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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 47 - -Referencing the Doctor > THE FOUNDATION TRILOGY


In the 1970s, television series were generally seen as disposable products, unworthy of in-depth cataloguing. In the early 1980s, a pair of Doctor Who books by Jean-Marc Lofficier led to a new approach…


Bill Donohoe’s cover artwork for The Doctor Who Programme Guide.

Looking at the ever-expanding Doctor Who: The Complete History partwork as it creeps across my bookshelf, I know that despite its scale and scope it can never achieve the same impact or influence as two hardback books that I purchased for £9 at a Sheffield bookshop in May 1981.

The Doctor Who Programme Guide became the bible for a generation of devotees, offering a fundamental listing of stories, transmission dates, cast, synopses and key crew plus a handy A to Z of all things ‘Whoniversal’. Now, it looks quaint. Back then, it triggered a whole new approach to books about television history.

Radio had already pointed the way with The Inside Story of Dick Barton by Geoffrey Webb and Neil Tuson, published by Convoy in April 1950. This offered a very early example of a story guide – a breezy single-paragraph overview of the hero’s first year on the BBC’s Light Programme. The approach was similar, in fact, to the summing up of the Doctor’s travels by his counsel for the defence in Piccolo’s 1972 publication The Making of Doctor Who.

When television became serious and respectable at the end of the 1950s, The Armchair Theatre: How to Write, Design, Direct, Act, Enjoy Television Plays (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1959) included a listing of the first three years of ABC’s acclaimed anthology with date, genre, writer, director, designer and stars; the listing was subsequently updated in John Russell Taylor’s Anatomy of a Television Play, which Weidenfeld & Nicolson issued in September 1962. Eight years later, John Elliot’s Mogul: The Making of a Myth (Barrie & Jenkins, 1970) took a similar approach – sans cast lists – for the popular 1965 BBC oil drama.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The latest Special Edition of Doctor Who Magazine is devoted to the many non-fiction books based on the series. This comprehensive guide traces the history of the series’ reference works, from the very first episode guides compiled by Doctor Who story editors for their colleagues in the 1960s, to the fanzines of the 1970s, the first authorised books based on the series and the plethora of books available today. Exclusive interviews, behind-the- scenes features and numerous rare photographs tell the whole story, from the black-and-white days of Doctor Who to the 2017 series starring Peter Capaldi.