Review Blog

Feb 13 2014

Doctor Who: The Vault - treasures from the first 50 years by Marcus Hearn

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BBC Books, a Random House Group Company, 2013. ISBN 9781849905817.
In 2013, the television series, Dr Who, celebrated its 50th anniversary even more popular now than when it began. The TARDIS, that time machine disguised as a police telephone box, continues to transport fans, new and seasoned, into another world providing them with a momentary diversion from the here and now. And in this magnificent creation of Marcus Hearn, fans can travel back across time, without a TARDIS, to revisit their favourite memories.
Hearn is a Doctor Who fan, and when he realised that there is no central archive of props and paraphernalia, he decided to curate a collection within in a book as a way of marking the program's 50th milestone. Each chapter is devoted to a year, or other short off-air periods, in its history and through text, remarkable photographs and other graphics, the timeline is told. Much of the material is rare and much of it not seen before. A specific event sparks each chapter such as the story of the Daleks in 1965 and the phenomenon of time travel in 2007. This really is an all-you-wanted-to-know-about-Dr-Who tome.
But it is much more than a book for the aficionados. Given the popularity of sci fi with our students, this book encapsulates its development as a genre over the years in both text and film so there is much that could be used for comparing and contrasting activities. The development of costume design and makeup could be an interesting theme as well as the impact of technology on special effects It would also help satisfy the Year 10 history strand which focuses on 'Popular Culture (1945 - present)' and examines the influences of music, film and television.
In my opinion, the author has well and truly achieved his aim of curating a museum in a book and this has a place on the shelves of every secondary library at least. It is a remarkable work that is likely to satisfy the appetites of established fans and whet that of new ones.
Barbara Braxton

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