BFI TV Classics: Doctor Who - A Critical Reading of the Series

No. 73 of 339 in the Miscellaneous factual books series
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Cover image for BFI TV Classics: Doctor Who - A Critical Reading of the Series
By:Kim Newman
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Released:  December 2005
Publisher:  British Film Institute
Format: paperback
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Note:  Part of a series of BFI TV Classics books from the British Film Institute — other titles include Star Trek, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and two other series with strong Doctor Who connections: the Christopher Eccleston-starring Our Friends in the North and the Russell T. Davies-written Queer as Folk.

Cover blurb:
From 1963 to 1989, for the most part at teatime on Saturdays on BBC1, Doctor Who was a British TV institution. The series had its roots in British science fiction but grew to take in many other influences: historical drama, Hammer horror, satire, conspiracy thriller, even pantomime. Over the years it developed a uniquely eccentric style, at once cosily familiar and cosmically terrifying, and many of its characters, creatures and objects have become iconic — the Doctors and his assistants, the TARDIS, the Time Lords, and a panoply of monsters and villains: Cybermen, Ice Warriors, the Master and, of course, the Daleks.

The idea that the Doctor should have the power of regeneration was forced on the show’s makers when William Hartnell, the original star, could not carry on. But the changing face of the Doctor became key to the evolution of the series and, for many, whole phases of life are summed up in the casting changes: Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston and now David Tennant.

Kim Newman’s comprehensive study follows the Doctor’s travels through time and space, placing Doctor Who in the context of science-fiction television, and traces the history of the show through its outstanding stories and its recurring themes, from its highs (Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker) to its lows (K-9, Bonnie Langford, and cancellation) and suggests why the programme has become an enduring television masterpiece and a cultural phenomenon.

KIM NEWMAN is a contributing editor to Sight & Sound and Empire magazines. His fiction includes the novels Anno Dracula and Life’s Lottery and novella ‘Time and Relative’.

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