Doctor Who: The Women Who Lived by Christel Dee & Simon Guerrier (book review).

September 28, 2018 | By | Reply More

As the authors, Christel Dee & Simon Guerrier, point out in their introduction, there have been a lot of influential female characters in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series. This book looks at 85 fictional and one real with Verity Lambert at the end. Isn’t it about time we had had another female show-runner? Of course, it’s also a means to promote the latest regeneration of the Doctor, who also has an extended entry. Rather than photos of each of them, 22 female artists were commissioned to illustrate the book.

Very few of them do the standard portraits which is a shame as the book cover is clearly not representative of the interior with only Donna Noble being better but looks closely based on a photo. Some, like Barbara Wright, look nothing like the actresses who played them. Far too many are cartoon-like which is a shame and I can’t help wonder if this was to keep to a sharp deadline. It missed an opportunity to some lady artists as serious painters which is a shame although this might be a matter of taste.

The pages for each entry varies a lot depending on what they did. Obviously, the female companions all get extended entries. Newcomer probationary police officer Yasmin ‘Yaz’ Khan (actress Mandip Gill), the latest female companion who will appear in the latest series has an entry bringing everything up-to-date so you probably won’t need an updated volume for a few years.

For much of the book, entries are in forename order first than surname but the index should help you find who you are looking for. I do wonder if there will be a male version of this book. After all, there have been many fewer male companions but probably too many other male characters for a single volume. Information-wise, you do get a lot on each companion and although the format of the opening sentence can get a little repetitive.

While I was reading, my memory kicked in as to who did they miss out and this includes omissions from their ‘And Not Forgetting’ section at the end of the book. So where is the Kaftan (actress Shirley Cooklin) from ‘Tomb Of The Cybermen’, Miss Hawthorne (actress Damaris Hayman) from ‘The Daemons’ and Nasreen Chaudhry (actress Meera Syal) from ‘Cold Blood’/’The Hungry Earth’? I would have thought all three were as significant as the rest here.

Nevertheless, this book will sell, if only for being one of the first ‘non-fiction’ books on the first female ‘Doctor Who’ to have Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill on the cover.

GF Willmetts

September 2018

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury. 223 illustrated indexed medium hardback. Price: £16.99 (UK), $23.99 (US), $35.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78594-359-1)

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Category: Books, Doctor Who


About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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