And so began a lifelong obsession. He claims that he’s not a “Whovian”, but rather a “Doctor Who fan,” and rates himself a probable two or three on a Nerd Scale—while admitting “That framed set of Tom Baker bathroom tiles on the wall behind me suggests the truth may rank somewhere higher.” The iconic sci-fi show was a defining factor in his childhood, and yet when Doctor Who started getting crappy—after Tom Baker basically—he nearly moved on, ready to take on more mature interests, until he discovered a small ad of someone selling tapes of old episodes, and that was the end of the plan to move on. Only in the last few years has this anti-social obsession become something he can earn a living from as a journalist, as he’s become Radio Times’ unofficial Doctor Who correspondent and so interviewed a host of the show’s stars past and present. Happily this coincides with Doctor Who getting good again. Anyone who grew up with The Doctor will relate to this superfan’s story and his love for the show that lets him journey back to his own childhood—his own personal TARDIS.
I won’t lie; I was told I had to read this book by the OH. I’ve been a fan of New Who since it was rebooted and have always wanted to see Original Who but never knew where to start and how it would fair to my New Who eyes. I needed a bit of education and was told to read this to get an idea of the world of Old Who and life as an original fan.
Told as a memoir of sorts, this follows the life of Nick Griffiths from his younger years and follows him growing up, finding and losing love, finding music and losing Who only to rediscover it years later. It’s a funny tale about a now (at the time of publication) Radio Times journalist who seems to be their go-to guy for Doctor Who related pieces.
This is the kind of book that unless you have a frame of reference for it, it may be hard to get to grips with. I know what it’s like to be aged ten, but not a boy at ten in the 1970s with all the cultural references that are very much “of its time”. Plus, I had no real reference for the heavy Who related stuff. I know the older Doctors, have caught the odd repeat and can tell you roughly what era they’re from, but that’s about it. It was Nick’s love of music and discovery of new bands that I really gelled with, something I did myself as a teenager, and his later years as a grown-up fanboy that made me chuckle with an in-joke knowledge of what that’s like.
I think that this book would work for real Who-heads and those of a geeky leaning but unless you’re prepared to embrace a lot of Who knowledge in a quick blast; it may not suit your tastes. Sweet, amusing and very touching in places. A book about life as a geek and coming terms with the fact that you’re not quite as cool as you might think you are.
Published by Gollancz and is available in bookshops and online now