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Dalek I Loved You: A Memoir
Nick Griffiths
Gollancz, 289 pages

Dalek I Loved You: A Memoir
Nick Griffiths
Nick Griffiths is a journalist, and a no-longer-so-closet Dr Who fan.

Nick Griffiths Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox


"A very funny book for anyone who grew up wearing Tom Baker underpants -- I know I did"
So says David Tennant, the tenth actor to portray BBC's longest enduring SF hero, the enigmatic Doctor for the long running series Doctor Who. However, if you weren't born yet, were too old or not in any way, shape or form British, what was it like living through that crazy era of the 70s and the effect Doctor Who was having on the population?

Writer Nick Griffiths doesn't try to answer that. Instead he recounts his own personal journey through that landscape and how Doctor Who shaped his progress into the man he is today. In the process he recounts his memories, opinions and reflections on many a topic from David Bowie to Withnail & I all the while having the good Doctor as a companion though the tale.

Doctor Who is a staple of English culture. Much like Star Trek in America, there are hardcore fans (Whovians as they're known), casual viewers and those that can't stand the program. But love it or hate it, just about everyone is aware of it. It ran, initially, from 1963 to 1989 with seven actors portraying the regenerating Time Lord. A made for TV film in 1996 attempted unsuccessfully to recharge the franchise, but 2005 saw an unparalleled return, critically acclaimed by critics and fans which is still going strong today.

Dalek I Loved You mainly focuses on the John Pertwee era (the Third Doctor for you neophytes) and the Tom Baker years (Pertwee's successor, the Fourth Doctor). Griffiths, a writer by trade, has an excellent knack for engaging the reader with conversational prose that makes you feel as if you're sitting in the room with him, listening to his anecdotes, rather than reading it on the page.

Griffiths refuses to accept the mantel of Whovian and the stigma that comes with it, but he will admit to being a fan. However, as you read the book, it becomes clear that he knows a little more than he'd care to admit. The story of his life is a tale of an introverted boy who makes his way through British society, what Doctor Who means to him, how he fell in love with it as a child, drifted away as he got older and returned to it later in life.

It must be mentioned that this book is VERY British. By that, if you're not familiar with the culture, celebrities or social events, many of Griffiths' references will be totally lost on the casual reader. In fact it helps to read it with an internet connection so you can look up the personalities he talks about or makes reference to.

That aside, the book still holds its own as it covers the major events of Griffiths life mixed with the adventures of the Doctor and the TARDIS through time and space. The tales of boarding school, first loves and all the musical venues explored by the author in his early writing career are so real and heartfelt that any late-thirties/early-forties reader can easily relate.

The paperback edition features a few additions from the hardcover, including an extra insert from Griffiths' son, Dylan, now 13, comments on what it was like having a Doctor Who fan as a father. There is also an updated chapter on what the elder Griffith thinks of the current series.

But what of the Doctor? Being a writer for Radio Times, Griffiths has had ample opportunity to meet with and interview many of the actors from the series as well as personal episode favorite lists and a smashing poem about Adric (possibly the most hated character in Doctor Who history). The stories range from the introspective to the downright hilarious. Dalek I Loved You is simply fun and a pleasant excursion for anyone who knows what it's like to hide behind the sofa at the word 'Exterminate.'

Copyright © 2008 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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