Gollancz is thrilled to be publishing two very different but equally excellent Doctor Who related books today, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the show. Both have been published before in different forms, but both are hugely worthy additions to our list.
First is BEHIND THE SOFA, the collection of celebrity memories of Doctor Who that we’ve been sharing extracts from over the last couple of weeks. With all royalties going to Alzheimer’s Research UK, this hugely readable book is perfect for dipping into. Full of comedians, people who worked on or starred in Doctor Who, celebrities and a few authors Gollancz readers will recognise, it’s perfect for casual fans of the show. This expanded edition has around 40 new entries as well as a very touching foreword from Sir Terry Pratchett.
We’re also thrilled to be bringing back to digital life the DOCTOR WHO DISCONTINUITY GUIDE by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping. Covering the entire original series, this lighthearted and affectionate look at the show changed the face of TV guides and remains a vital part of Who history. We’re also delighted to be publishing the same authorial team’s books on Star Trek, The Avengers and The X-Files. All four are available on the SFGateway and are available now.
Keep reading for an extract from Gollancz author Alistair Reynolds.
Once refused to visit a boy’s house in fear of his Dalek wallpaper
“I’d already developed a weird and abiding fascination with the idea of time travel.”
My theory is that your favorite Doctor is always going to be the one on television when you’re eight, which nicely (and conveniently) squares with my particular enthusiasm for the Pertwee era.
I have precisely no memory of the earlier Doctors, and no strong recollection of the first Pertwee season. Things only begin to come into very hazy focus with the second run of adventures (Colony in Space in particular) but even then it’s all very fragmented and I wonder how many of the stories I actually saw in their entirety. The Peladon stories have always been rather clear in my memory, for instance, but I have no recollection of catching The Sea Devils until rather later in the 1970s.
However poor my memories, though, what is clear is that I fell in love with the series unreservedly. I’d already developed a weird and abiding fascination with the idea of time travel, having been exposed to George Pal’s The Time Machine at a very early age. Doctor Who was more of the same, but better! Of course there was not a great deal of time travel (or, indeed, travel) in those earlier Pertwee days but I think the notion was always there in the background. More importantly, school friends knew a lot more about Doctor Who than I did. I remember being told about the “Cybermen” being the best monsters. Who were these mysterious Cybermen? Jon Pertwee never encountered them, but I suppose the older brothers and sisters of friends would have had recollections of the Troughton era. To them, these earlier monsters would still have been relatively fresh in the memory and preserved as such through the medium of TV annuals, Doctor Who chocolate bars, wallpaper and so on.
I don’t think you can overstate the importance of peer influence during those pre-digital, pre-repeat days. When Tom Baker eventually encountered the Cyberleader on Nerva Beacon in Revenge of the Cybermen, they had gained (to my nine-year-old eyes) an almost mythic stature. And I thought they were fantastic! I loved the Baker era too, in fact, although because I grew up with it (I was into my teens when it ended) I had inevitably become more questioning and critical over time.
No such difficulties with the Pertwee period. It was wonderfully terrifying but also wonderfully comforting and welcoming. Even now, 40 years on, I can’t think of sausage and mash without being transported back to a particular Saturday evening, and Invasion of the Dinosaurs. Marvellous!