REVIEW: 50 FOR 50 – CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE DOCTOR WHO FAMILY / AUTHOR: PAULA HAMMOND / PUBLISHER: TELOS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Last year, our favourite fugitive Gallifreyan celebrated fifty years of time and space travelling (at least, as they are reckoned on Earth). There was a flurry of books and memorabilia to mark the prestigious event, which covered every single imaginable facet of the rich tapestry of the series, past and present. However, author Paula Hammond offers us something new and fresh, giving us an insight to Doctor Who that we’ve never seen before.
She has gathered together fifty interviews with the often overlooked heroes of the series, going back to its genesis in 1963. You won’t find interviews with Matt Smith, David Tennant, Billie Piper or Steven Moffet here, but you will uncover a treasure trove of the reminiscences of Bernard Lodge who designed the iconic title sequence, Warris Hussein, who directed the first episode, Peter Purves, Louise Jameson, past Cyber Controllers, set designers, bit part actors and so on – each with rich tales of working on the set with each successive Doctor.
From a personal point of view, I found the interviews with the older actors and technicians to be far more insightful and involving than the recent era, but that’s a matter of personal preference. I enjoyed reading about the low budget early days, where, to quote Bernard Lodge, “There weren’t many creative expectations of us at the B.B.C. We all wanted to do super duper things, but we didn’t get much chance”. Those pioneers of visual effects proved conclusively that necessity is the mother of invention and without ever dreaming they were doing so, they created immortal television magic on a budget that would barely cover the catering bill in this day and age.
It’s an absorbing, wonderful book that really deserves to be on the bookshelf of every self- respecting Whovian and don’t be surprised if it inspires you to rewatch some vintage episodes.