Thursday, November 03, 2022

Review: Doctor Who and the Daleks (2022)

Every so often a Doctor Who item comes along that when you first year about it, you scratch your head and wonder why ...  This was my reaction when I heard about this new edition of Doctor Who and an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks (as it was originally called) being released by BBC books. It's a large format hardback illustrated by Robert Hack, one of the artists whose work has been seen on trading cards and in the Doctor Who comics and graphic novels ... he's also a fine fellow in real life!

So I wondered how they could make this work ... what a strange choice of something to release ... a book that has been in print almost non-stop since it's first release in 1965 ...

And yesterday I got a review copy.

And wow!

Sometimes a book just gets everything right, and this is one of those times. The size is sort of mid-way between a large format A4 sort of size, and the smaller Royal size that some hardback fiction is released at. But the slightly squarer format really works.

Probably my only complaint is that title. They have called it Doctor Who and the Daleks ... I would have preferred the original and more nostalgic Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks ... but that's just being picky.

The book contains the text from the 2011 reissue of the novelisation by BBC Books in their 'Target' imprint ... but this time, for reasons best known to them, they omit to credit Justin Richards for the 'Changing Face' and 'About the Authors' texts, and Steve Tribe for the 'Between the Lines' section. There's also nothing about Robert in the book itself (he does get a mention on the back cover flap though). It would have been nice to have seen an afterword piece from him on his work, the unused cover ideas and so on ... Neil Gaiman does get a credit for his superb and nostalgic introduction though ... which sets the scene nicely for the story to follow.

The real beauty of the book kicks in on the first page, as we are treated to the first of the many illustrations of a car on a foggy Barnes Common being driven by Ian Chesterton. This reminds us that this is David Whitaker's superb novelisation, which differs in some respects from the televised story ... like Neil, I have memories of the Barnes Common opening, the car accident, and the strange man with the everlasting matches ... and it's all here ...

Robert's illustrations take you into the story and present scenes as we move through ... it's all here ... mutations in the swamps ... Dalek mutants ... Thals being exterminated ... Ian climbing inside the Dalek casing ... and, finally, the incredible glass Dalek itself!  All rendered in gorgeous illustration which leap off the page.

If this was an experiment, then it really worked well! The book is beautiful to look at, and the story is one of the very best from the Doctor Who Novelisation range.

At £30 the book is not cheap, but I'm assuming that you can probably find it for less if you search - at the time of writing Amazon have it for £19.99 which is pretty good!

As a gift to give to a new fan of the show, it's pretty perfect ... and for us old nostalgists, it brings back lots of smashing memories ...

Top marks to BBC Books for this one ... and maybe we'll see more stories adapted into this format in the future!

Doctor Who and the Daleks is published in hardback by BBC Books (an imprint of Ebury Publishing). 3 November 2022, £30.00