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Doctor Who’s first coffee-table book, 1983’s A Celebration, was a publishing phenomenon that accidentally turned author Peter Haining into the show’s ‘official historian’.
The 20th anniversary of Doctor Who was marked by The Five Doctors (1983) and (centre) celebrations at Longleat.

When Peter Haining died of a heart attack in 2007, aged 67, his Guardian obituary spoke admiringly of how ‘deep knowledge, lightly borne, had powered a pen for hire’. It’s a fitting description of a man who, in the course of a 50-year career, wrote and edited more than 200 books on everything from HG Wells, Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula to scarecrows, cricket, the Channel Tunnel and Nazi gold. And, in a fertile flurry of activity in the 1980s – during which he turned out five large-format hardbacks in the space of six years – he also became arguably the world’s most successful chronicler of Doctor Who.

Born in Enfield in 1940, Haining developed an early fascination with gruesome stories of terror and witchcraft, fuelled by imported pulp magazines like Weird Tales. While still at school, he began writing articles for “anything that would publish me”, including local newspapers, parish pump newsletters and even a magazine about racing pigeons.

At 17 he landed a job as a reporter on the West Essex Gazette, then moved to Fleet Street as features editor of National Newsagent magazine before joining the publishing house New English Library, where he got to indulge his childhood passions by editing bestselling anthologies of Gothic horror, science-fiction, supernatural and detective stories.

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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.