Thursday, September 03, 2015

Review: The Time Lord Letters

Hot off the presses from the BBC, is (one of) the 2015 hardback(s) tying into Doctor Who. This time, author Justin Richards has thought laterally, and has compiled together over one hundred 'letters' which the Doctor has apparently written, or which have been written about him, over the course of his many incarnations and adventures. And it's a fascinating selection.

Some are fairly 'obvious' in their existence - letters from the first Doctor to Coal Hill School asking them to take on Susan, and an application form for the same ... plus one from the twelfth Doctor applying for the post of caretaker ... but others are a little more esoteric in nature.  For example, one from the ninth Doctor to the parents of Adam Mitchell, or letters from and to the eleventh Doctor based around the events of 'Amy's Choice' ...

But possibly my favourite one, which stretches reality in every which way, is from the twelfth Doctor to Agatha Christie, apparently written while he was on the space-going Orient Express. Quite when during that adventure he had time to sit down and write is a little perplexing, but here is a letter.

From a design perspective, the book is a delight, with the letters on created notepapers with little logos and designs for all manner of places and corporations, from the aforementioned Orient Express to ESGO (the gas drilling company from 'Fury from the Deep'), International Electromatics (from 'The Invasion'), Brook House Theatre (from 'Planet of the Spiders'), The Palace Theatre (from 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang') and of course UNIT.  I love this level of detail, and the overall impact that the book has is excellent because of it.  I also like the various paper and parchment effects, the coffee cup rings, sticky tape marks, stained corners and edges to the photographs ... an awful lot of effort has gone into making this book look and feel like a true scrapbook of the Doctor's letters and correspondence over the years.

Some of it lifts directly from the show: there's sequences from 'The War Games' and 'The Mind Robber' for example, and other words and phrases echo dialogue from the show (as in the second Doctor's letter to Victoria).

Overall, it's a rather nice picture book, beautifully designed, and interesting to flick through. However like most of the books being produced for the show these days, it's also a little esoteric, falling between the stalls of a factual book (it's not that at all - the majority of these letters don't exist in the context of the show itself) and a fiction book (it is closer to this) and an art book (it's certainly packed full of images). But well done to Justin and the designers for coming up with a new take on the show, and managing to pull it together!

The Time Lord Letters is published by BBC Books. £20 rrp. ISBN: 978-1-84990-963-1

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