In 2010 JR Southall started a project to let Doctor Who fans everywhere share the story of their relationship with the show. After various trials and tribulations the book was finally published by Miwk Publishing late in 2012. The profits from the book all go to Children in Need and you can buy your own copy for £12.99 by following this link.
Yours truly was one of those whose essays appeared in the book, but putting that on one side, does the idea work and is it the book worth reading?
There are around 80 essays ranging in length from a few paragraphs to a few pages. All are presented without any commentary and in no discernible order. Almost all of them will resonate with most fans and almost all of them come across as considered and honest.
Although the essays may not teach you much about Doctor Who I found that they gave me plenty of material for reflection and many times I felt ‘that’s what happened to me / that’s what I think’.
Each essay is then followed by a brief introduction to the writer in terms of their favourite Doctor, favourite story and some based bio details. It is quite interesting to compare these to the text – in most cases you can predict the favourite Doctor but often there is a little surprise.
In some ways this book has led me to think that we fans and our stories are like the show itself. You can dismiss Doctor Who as being mostly base under siege / companion gets lost / deceit / monster / good guys win by being clever not violent; you could characterise the fans stories as mostly liked the show / lost interest / discovered by chance / loved the revival / helped shaped who I am. You might think that 80 versions of this would get repetitive, you’d be wrong.
Like the show there are lots of little details and personal moments that make each experience unique and important to the individual. No one fan gets to dominate proceedings and all voices are heard.
I’m happy and proud to be included in the group of authors.
If you want to know more about us, check out our author pages on the You and Who website.
Is it a success?
It is largely a false exercise to judge something after the event without having laid down the measures of success in advance. Ignoring that, I suggest it is a success for the following reasons:
- It got made. JR got 80+ fans to write essays then worked to get them into a book and get it published
- The book is selling and providing donations to charity
- The sequel books (see below) are well under way.
This is work byfans for anyone who wants to understand how a large, diverse group of individuals can care so much for a TV show. It is a masterpiece of inclusivity and everyone involved should be pleased at their contribution.JR himself should take a moment from the melee of editing the next titles to reflect on his achievement so far and award himself a large pat on the back
If you want to get involved there are two further books in the pipeline covering every episode of the TV show (and some other connected items). These will be published in 2013 and 2014 and once again any can contribute.
I took part, originally, just for the frisson of seeing my name in print. I have gained so much more than that and I encourage everyone to check out You and Who. Still here? Get on with you!
Anyway, those are my thoughts – what did you think?
Tony Jones, January 2013