Roger Hargreaves Doctor Who Series: Dr. First, Dr. Fourth, Dr. Eleventh and Dr. Twelfth – all by Adam Hargreaves (books review)

May 21, 2017 | By | Reply More

Lest we forget, ‘Doctor Who’ is intended to be a show for children. I have two of them myself and. like any good geeky parent, I am determined to make them like the things that I like or I’ll considering writing them out of my will. Though considering that all I have to leave them is a set of ‘Star Wars’ salt and pepper shakers, a large collection of Batman figures and a LEGO TARDIS, then they might not be all that fussed. But still, I have to make an attempt at getting them into the geek lifestyle. I look forward to them rebelling and becoming accountants or something.

My youngest is still a little bit away from indoctrination…erm, I mean introduction into the world of SF and Fantasy only just having learned how to walk, though at just over the age of 1, he still recognises the myriad of flaws in ‘Time And The Rani’. Funny that. However, at just over 3, my eldest seems ripe for some ‘Doctor Who’ action. But what to do? He’s still a little bit hyper to sit through a full episode of the old or new series and even the Krotons would probably terrify him, the aforementioned LEGO TARDIS gets smashed to pieces if he gets his hands on it and he still thinks the Cyberman head/money box on his shelf is Batman.

Well thank goodness there is now a way to introduce your youngsters to the world of the Time Lord as Doctor Who meets those colourful slices of kiddie manna from heaven known as the Mr Men. Yes, that’s right, incarnations of the Doctor have now been rendered as those colourful characters that kids have been obsessed by since they were invented by Roger Hargreaves in the 70s.

The first is appropriately is ‘Dr. First’ in which the first Doctor finds himself reluctantly on Earth trying to fix the TARDIS, find Susan and defeat the Cybermen. There’s plenty of allusions to Doctor Number 1’s grumpiness and some nice poking fun at 60s Britain. It also manages get the line ‘Cybermen were not interested in the Changing of the Guard’ which is probably a first for any Doctor Who media.

‘Dr. Fourth’ sees the Doctor and Sarah Jane running from Daleks, offering lots of jelly babies and finding suspiciously well-placed items that will help them out of their predicaments.

‘Dr. Eleventh’ also has a bit of a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey plot as the Doctor and River Song relive a perilous day so the Doctor can go and find something that he previously dropped.

We end, assuming, like any good ‘Doctor Who’ fans, that we’re reading the stories in a canonical order with ‘Dr. Twelfth’, in which the Doctor keeps finding out that Missy is one step ahead of him. Which is annoying as he rather wants his lunch. This pokes fun at the Missy/Master dynamic with the Doctor as her desperation to reveal her diabolical plan is brushed off in favour of a quick bite to eat.

All the iterations of the Doctor are rendered in the traditional Mr. Men style with some iconic accoutrements. So Dr. Fourth is basically an orange blob with a scarf and hat while Dr. Eleventh is a blue blob sporting a fez while the art styles are exactly the same as the Mr. Men series. The stories themselves are unsurprisingly simplistic that will appeal to youngsters while containing a few things for the ‘Doctor Who’ fan to enjoy.

Of course, some of the reasons for these book existing lie in the current vogue for dredging up childhood nostalgia and giving them an adult edge, see the recent glut of satirical Ladybird books or Enid Blyton parodies. But these do work in their own right and my own child happily listened to them as a bedtime story, though he’d happily listen to the ingredients of a tin of Mulligatawny soup being read out if it meant he could stay up a bit longer. Then there are more on the way with the second, seventh, eighth and ninth doctors all to come. Colin Baker still can’t catch a break can he? You’d think with that colourful coat, he’d be a shoo-in. Now, can we have ‘Babylon 5’ done in the style of Dr. Seuss?

Laurence Boyce

May 2017

(pub: BBC Childrens Books/Puffin/Penguin. 32 page small paperbacks. Each: Price: 4.99 (UK). Dr. First: ISBN: 978-1-40593-005-5. Dr. Fourth: 978-1-40593-006-2. Dr. Eleventh: 978-1-40593-007-9. Dr. Twelfth: 978-1-40593-008-6)

check out website: https://www.penguin.co.uk/puffin/worlds/doctor-who/

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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