Doctor Who: Dalek Combat Training Manual by Richard Atkinson and Mike Tucker (book review).

March 23, 2021 | By | Reply More

What would the Doctor be without the Daleks? Most likely a footnote in TV history, a forgotten SF show that a couple of people fondly remember whilst the rest of us wallow in a big budget reboot of ‘Blake’s 7’. It’s easy to forget that it was the Daleks who captured the imagination of a generation of school kids in the 1960s.

If nostalgia is to be believed, then you couldn’t move in playgrounds for youngsters sticking their arms out of their heads and going ‘Exterminate!’ and were a large factor in keeping the Time Lord on the air. Nowadays it seems that there is as much material dedicated to them as there is to their eternal two-hearted nemesis.

Under the conceit of being an intelligence manual written for Time Lords, the ‘Dalek Combat Training Manual’ contains synopses of all the Doctor’s TV encounters with all the pepper pots of malevolence, a timeline of their activities across the universe as well as an examination of the various different types of Dalek, from the standard travel machine to the might of the Special Weapons Dalek. Of course, there is plenty of information about Davros and his creation of some of the most evil creatures in the universe.

As an ‘in-universe’ style book, we’re unsurprisingly bereft of any behind the scenes stories and television history. Instead, this recaps the adventures of the Doctor in an order which makes some sort of sense whilst engaging in some narrative sleights of hand to explain how adventures that ostensibly take place at the end of the destruction of the Time Lords can be referred to in the book. Sorry, ‘Training Manual’.

Richard Atkinson and Mike Tucker (a veteran special effects guy and previous ‘Doctor Who’ material including such books as ‘The Dalek Survival Guide’) carry off the central conceit well, making a good fist at making it seem like a genuine manual without it becoming so dry that it doesn’t become entertaining. There is certainly something about having a handy reference guide to Dalek adventures and how they all fit together.

The book itself is wonderfully put together artefact with Gavin Rymill providing some wonderful illustrations alongside a number of well-chosen stills. As a quasi-coffee table book, it works admirably and make a nice addition to the haul of a ‘Doctor Who’ collector.

Dalek books are as ubiquitous as the creatures themselves are on TV. With George Mann’s Dalek book, an out of universe exploration of their history, published a scant few years ago with other items such as ‘The Dalek Handbook’ and the aforementioned ‘Dalek Survival Guide’, there is a slight feeling of redundancy in the whole enterprise, even as well put together as it is. But it will prove a delight for collectors and those wanting an up-to-date collection of Dalek adventures will find it a bastion of extermination

Laurence Boyce

March 2021

(pub: BBC Books/Penguin. 160 page softcover. Price: £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78594-532-8)

check out website: www.penguin.co.uk

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Category: Books, Doctor Who

About the Author ()

Laurence Boyce is a film journalist who likes Bond, Batman and Doctor Who (just to prove the things he enjoys things that don't just start with a 'B'). He is also a film programmer for various film festivals in the UK and abroad.

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