11 September 2017

Review: Doctor Who: Talkback, Volume One: The Sixties edited by Stephen James Walker

Trade paperback, 197 pages
Published 2006 (contents: 1978-2006)

Acquired September 2016
Read October 2016
Talkback: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Doctor Who Interview Book, Volume One: The Sixties
edited by Stephen James Walker

I've been reading Doctor Who Magazine's six "In Their Own Words" specials, which interweave quotes from DWM interviews to create a history of Doctor Who from 1963 to 2009. I've been supplementing them with Talkback, which prints interviews in their entirety, mostly sourced from fanzines (though some are from DWM, making for some redundancies). The interviews focus on production personnel, with only a couple performers getting looks in. If you like reading about the minutiae of producing a television programme, especially the very "primitive" ways it was done in the 1960s, then this book is for you.

Highlights include the interviews with the two set designers of the first couple seasons, Raymond Cusick (who designed the Daleks) and Barry Newberry (who designed most of the historicals, including the lush Marco Polo and the excellent The Aztecs), make-up designer Sylvia James, Anneke Wills (who played Polly and lived a fascinating post-Who life), director Morris Barry (who did The Dominators but knew it was crap except for the bitchy Dominators themselves), and Peter Bryant and Derrick Sherwin (the script editors and producers who got rid of the time/space travel element of the show in 1969, and whose reasons for doing so make for interesting reading). Sometimes it can be a bit dry and hard going (Walker and the various other interviewers are no Benjamin Cook when it comes to writing up interviews in a lively fashion), but it's packed with facts and anecdotes you'll struggle to find anywhere else.

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