‘The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who 2012’ book review

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Fast becoming an annual treat, The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who 2012 picks up where last year’s effort left off, taking a critical and creative in-depth look at the fourteen episodes that have appeared on our screens since Christmas 2010.

More wittily ingenious than any mainstream TV tie-in book has a right to be, this is the Doctor Who annual we always wanted from our childhoods – the one we always believed the annual could be. Yes, even during that psychedelic period in the late ’70s when it seemed that all its artists were dope-smoking occultists.

If you want proof that, in the new world of 21st century Who, times really are better, flick the pages of this beautifully-designed book.

Taking its inspiration from the genre-crossing, wittily self-reflexive stories of Steven Moffat, this is a book which does full justice to Doctor Who as it is now: cheeky; knowing; audacious.

Heroes from Who, past and present, mingle on its pages: thus, Madame Vastra finds herself briefly in the employment of Henry Gordon Jago, and President Flavia finds herself turned on by the Corsair’s smile – although it’s not clear whether this is during one of his male or female incarnations.

President Flavia in same sex love shocker – now that’s not a thought any of us would have entertained before 2005. Truly, this book is where fan fiction dreams become quasi-official reality.

But it’s not all lesbian high jinks – oh, no. As in last year’s Brilliant Book, the pages are full of behind the scenes profiles, designed to whet the appetites of young fans and set their hearts on careers in the television industry. Many of the main players on the production team are interviewed, and there are enough insights into the design and effects work to fill the gap left by the recently-departed Doctor Who Confidential.

Best of all is the art design. The full-page illustrations by Lee Johnson, accompanying the chapters on each episode, are things of beauty – so too the comic strip recreation of the lost first scene of The Doctor’s Wife, illustrated with great subtlety and a sharp eye for the likenesses of the regulars by Mark Buckingham.

Little wonder that a book this clever and creative is already inspiring imitators. If you have not done so already, check out the online homage, The Wonderful Book of Doctor Who 1965, which takes full advantage of its unofficial status to be even more scurrilous and cheeky.

This is what Doctor Who has always done – and should always do: inspire its fans to be as imaginative and ingenious as the show itself, and as the character whose name is hidden in plain sight.

Simply… brilliant.

Published on Thursday 13th October 2011 by BBC Books.

> Buy the book on Amazon.

Are you looking forward to the Christmas special? Let us know below…