Telos Publishing
Talkback Vol 3
The Eighties

Edited by Stephen James Walker Cover image
ISBN 1 84583 015 1
Publisher Telos Publishing
Published 2007

Summary: A collection of interviews with people behind the third decade of the Classic Series.


Cringe by Robert Smith?10/10/18

Right on! Talkback. The unofficial and Unauthorised Doctor Who Interview Book. Wicked! Volume Three. Ace. The Eighties. Yeah! So I'm pleased to report that this tome is well and truly... a bit of an anticlimax, really.

I should point out that I haven't read the other two volumes, so, unlike 95% of the audience, I wasn't sure what to expect. The interviews range from the fascinating to the dreary - but that's not a big surprise; these things always do. The Terence Dudley interview is easily the highlight: conducted shortly before his death, he pulls no punches in assessing the production process of the time and offers fascinating insights into what could be improved and where things went wrong in vivid, gripping detail that makes you cringe on JNT's behalf. And the Andrew Cartmel interview is also fascinating, despite his 21st-century reappearance on the fan scene. Much of this interview passed into fan lore at the time, so reading it feels like watching Casablanca if you've never seen it before: every third line, you're suddenly saying "Oh, so this is where that's from!"

Aside from those two, the rest range from the mundane to the downright dull. There are doubtless people out there desperate to hear what the costume designer for The Curse of Fenric - a woman who worked on a grand total of one Doctor Who story - has to say, and you can't deny that the book is intended squarely for them. But the real problem here is the layout. The interviews are arranged in the same order as the show's chronology, so that everyone who first worked on the Davison era gets lumped together. This gets very strange when the costume designer who worked on Black Orchid and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy started talking about the latter during the Davison "era".

The book would have been vastly improved by breaking the interviews up with a few non-interview articles... which is all the more frustrating, because said articles are actually present, but they're all lumped at the end, since most of them concern Season 26. Because of the insistence on presenting everything chronologically, the book is needlessly lopsided. And, for a tome that isn't presenting anything new, just recycling old interviews, it's in the layout and the choice of order that the book lives or dies. If some thought had been put into the presentation, this would be a vastly superior book. Unfortunately it isn't - not because it's inherently bad, but just out of laziness.