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R.I.P. Gerard Murphy

(October 14, 1955 – August 26, 2013)

Gerard Murphy as Richard Maynarde in Doctor Who

Irish actor Gerard Murphy died from prostate cancer Monday. Murphy appeared on Doctor Who in 1988 as Richard Maynarde (above) and in Batman Begins as Judge Faden (below) among man other things.

Gerard Murphy as Judge Faden in Batman Begins

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A Doctor Who birthday party!

My son celebrated his fourteenth birthday this month, and he is such a big Doctor Who fan we decided to give him a Gallifreyan birthday. The problem is, we waited too late to get any store-bought stuff. You see, we live in the United States, and even as the Doctor’s popularity rises on this side of the pond, merchandise is still a bit difficult to come by. So we did the next best thing and made our own stuff!

We started by making some treat bags for the kids…

Tardis Treat Bags

These were simple enough. Purchase a few small blue paper bags from Meijer and print off the “Police Box,” “Public Use,” and “St. John’s Ambulance” signs from the internet. Then draw a few lines on with a Sharpie and you have your very own TARDIS treat bags!

What to put inside the treat bags? The kids are a bit old for the run-of-the-mill toys that you find at the department stores, so we just filled it with candy and TARDIS notebooks…

Tardis notebooks

There is a tutorial for making these here, and although we didn’t follow the directions precisely, they turned out nicely.

We were planning to have the kids make TARDIS papercrafts to pass the time…

Tardis papercraft

My son decided to go ahead and work on one a few days ahead of time, and decided it was too much work and too much of a chore to do at the party. So we used the ones he folded to decorate around the kitchen a bit. If you want to make one of your own, print off the template here or see if there is another template you like better here.

We ate pizza and chips, but you’ve got to have some sweet snacks at a party also. So we made some marshmallow Adipose for the kids to play with a munch on…

Adipose marshmallow snacks

Don’t let their cuteness fool you…these little buggers are dangerous! To learn more about Adipose, watch “Partners In Crime” from the fourth series of Doctor Who,

A birthday would not be complete without a birthday cake…

Tardis cake

We checked several stores in the area to see if they had Doctor Who-themed cakes, but to no avail. So my wife made her own!

She also made fezzes and bowties for all the kids to wear during the party…

Doctor Who bowtie and fez

Because fezzes and bowties are cool.

It turned out to be a pretty good party and all the kids, even the ones who are not yet familiar with Doctor Who, seemed to have a good time.

birthday party

Art book takes uniquely visual approach to charting 50 years of Doctor Who

Time and Space Visualiser

TIME & SPACE VISUALISER by Paul Smith is the first exploration of both the factual and fictional history of the famous TV series through a range of eye-catching graphics, presenting information about the show in a way never seen before

Look at any book about ‘Doctor Who’ and it’ll be full of text and tables, dates and facts – dense with detail that the eye skips over and the mind struggles to take in. Wonderful Books’ TIME & SPACE VISUALISER: THE STORY AND HISTORY OF DOCTOR WHO AS DATA VISUALISATIONS is the first to take this information and express it in an engaging, graphical form.

It reveals who are the most popular writers and directors; all the places on Earth the Doctor has visited and how often he goes to other planets; which companions gained the most experiences from their travels in the TARDIS; the most common comeuppances for the Doctor’s enemies; how long it would take to watch every episode back to back; and much more.

As ‘Doctor Who’ nears its 50th anniversary, cementing its place among that select group of TV series that have become part of the national consciousness, TIME & SPACE VISUALISER—available now on Amazon—takes a fresh perspective, visualising information from every aspect of the programme to show there are lots of options beyond lists and tables.

Each chart is accompanied by detailed notes discussing the background and context of the areas under examination, how the data was compiled and what it reveals. The results can therefore be appreciated by those interested in the possibilities of data visualisation while also presenting new angles to ‘Doctor Who’ devotees who might think they know all there is to know about the show.

TIME & SPACE VISUALISER examines a TV series in a way never done before, providing a unique view of a much-covered subject.

‘Time & Space Visualiser: The Story and History of Doctor Who as Data Visualisations’; 120 pages, full colour; Designed and written by Paul Smith; Published by Wonderful Books; Printed on demand through Amazon’s CreateSpace; Softcover; 22x28cm; £24.95; ISBN 978-0-9576062-0-3

To view sample pages and to order from Amazon, visit http://www.wonderfulbook.co.uk/visualiser.html

About the author
Paul Smith is a graphic designer and production editor with more than 20 years’ experience in the business press. Much of his work has involved presenting technical information and data in a clear fashion for easy understanding by the readership, but this is the first time he has applied those techniques to the facts and fiction of the BBC television series ‘Doctor Who’. As well as producing his own magazines on the subject, Smith designed and edited ‘The Barry Newbery Signature Collection’ (Telos Publishing, 2012) and is working on a second title featuring the photo collection of fellow BBC designer Raymond P Cusick. ‘Time & Space Visualiser’ is his first self-originated and commercially available book.

Smith said: “‘Doctor Who’ is perhaps the most documented TV show ever and, as a lifelong fan, I’ve read and absorbed tons of information about the series’ fiction and background, so it was the obvious subject for me to mine for data. There was instantly identifiable numerical data, such as when episodes were shown and how many viewers they had, but I also researched and catalogued more relational material, like how long it took for each story to be novelised and what are the most common cliffhangers.”

About Wonderful Books
Wonderful Books is the imprint established by Paul Smith for the self-publishing of ‘Doctor Who’ and related titles. While seeking employment following redundancy in 2011, Paul is pursuing his love of producing printed material and extending his knowledge of publishing. In 2011 he wrote, illustrated and produced ‘The Wonderful Book of Dr Who 1965’, a pastiche of BBC Books’ ‘Brilliant Book of Doctor Who’. It was followed this year by a light-hearted celebration of the modern series, for which he commissioned new artwork and comment. Further self-published commercial titles are planned for later this year.

Purchase Time & Space Visualiser: The story and history of Doctor Who as data visualisations

R.I.P. Mary Tamm

(March 22, 1950 – July 26, 2012)

Doctor Who companion to the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, in 1978-79.

Who Is The Doctor by Graeme Burk & Robert Smith? (2012)

Who is the Doctor

Who Is The Doctor:
The Unofficial Guide To Doctor Who – The New Series

by Graeme Burk & Robert Smith?
ECW Press, 2012
440 pages

“We are here today because Doctor Who is the greatest show on television. We really mean this, by the way. That’s not hyperbole.” Thus begins the unofficial episode guide written by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith? (the question mark is a part of his name). Covering every episode of Doctor Who beginning in 2005, including the mini-episodes and animated specials, Who Is The Doctor is a must-have for any fan of the BBC’s rebooted science fiction series.

Burk and Smith? do a fantastic job covering the series and the performers. Written from a fan’s perspective with a great deal of levity, Who Is The Doctor is a fun read, but not suggested for those who have not yet watched the series. After all, it’s an episode guide, taking you from the first episode of the reboot, “Rose,” to the last episode of the sixth season, “The Wedding of River Song.” The authors point out holes in the story, things that the casual viewer may not notice until it is pointed out, but they also praise the good points of each tale. They are unabashed fans of the current Doctor, portrayed by Matt Smith, and heap enormous amounts of praise upon him for his work in the role.

The book itself has rightly received praise from such genre heroes as author Neil Gaiman and Doctor Who writer Robert Shearman. Anyone who is a fan of the television program starring Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman, and Karen Gillan will enjoy and learn from Who Is The Doctor.

Learn more about ECW Press.

Purchase Who Is The Doctor by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?

R.I.P. Caroline John

(October 11, 1940 – June 5, 2012)

Best known as Doctor Who companion Liz Shaw, Caroline John passed away earlier this month.

Doctor Who: Bumper Activity Book (2011)

Doctor Who: Bumper Activity Book
BBC Children’s Books, Published by the Penguin Group, 2012
80 pages

Something for all ages, this Doctor Who: Bumper Activity Book features crossword puzzles, word finds, spot the difference, and many more puzzles. It’s not all simple games, however. Some of the activities are very specific to particular episodes of the Doctor Who program. Others ask the reader to put events in order of when they appeared on the television show.

Whatever the age of the Doctor Who fan in your life, this book will keep him entertained for hours with stickers, coloring pages, and time-traveling trivia.

look inside

Learn more about BBC Children’s Books, Published by the Penguin Group.

Purchase Doctor Who: Bumper Activity Book.

Doctor Who: Postcards from Time and Space (2012)

Postcards in a blue box

Doctor Who: Postcards from Time and Space
BBC Children’s Books, Published by the Penguin Group, 2012

Many of the greatest scenes from Matt Smith’s first couple of seasons as the Doctor can be found in this wonderful collection of one hundred postcards. The Doctor is here, along with Amy Pond, Rory Williams, and River Song. A good number of enemies are present as well, including Daleks, the Silence, and frequent visitors to my own nightmares, the Weeping Angels.

the eleventh doctor

These are not flimsy postcards like you will find in souvenir shops while vacationing. They are printed on high-quality, thick card stock with full-color photographs or artwork on the front, and space on the reverse for a short note to your friend and his address. The corner where the stamp goes features a silhouetted TARDIS, Dalek, or sonic screwdriver. It would almost be a shame to cover it up with a real stamp!

amelia pond

These cards are, of course, highly collectible. Doctor Who fans of all ages will absolutely love this set…but don’t expect to see the postcards go out in the mail. They are more likely to be taped up on bedroom walls or preserved in the TARDIS keepsake box, which is almost as exciting as the cards themselves.

Learn more about BBC Children’s Books, Published by the Penguin Group.

Purchase Doctor Who: Postcards from Time and Space

Doctor Who: Where’s The Doctor? by Jamie Smart

Doctor Who: Where’s The Doctor?
illustrations by Jamie Smart
BBC Children’s Books, Published by the Penguin Group, 2011
40 pages

A collection of illustrations originally published in Doctor Who: Monster Invasion magazine, this book is a fantastic addition to any Doctor Who fan’s bookshelf. As you might have guessed, Doctor Who: Where’s The Doctor? is filled with “Where’s Waldo”-type puzzles in which you can search for the Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, and the TARDIS as they hide among their enemies. An additional list of items can be spotted as well, including Fido the Dog, clowns, astronauts and more.

The amount of details included in each puzzle is mind-boggling. The Cyberfactory page is one of my favorites, featuring an overweight Cyberman munching on French fries, another sitting on the edge of the platform with a fishing pole, and another handing out ice cream cones. The page featuring The Silence was the most challenging for me; it took a good fifteen minutes to find the Doctor. After finding the Doctor and his friends, there is one additional puzzle at the end of the book in which the reader is challenged to spot ten differences.

Illustrator Jamie Smart does a marvelous job with the characters, from the Daleks to the Weeping Angels to the Slitheen. It is just as fun to look through the drawings as it is trying to find the Doctor’s hiding spot.

Doctor Who fans of all ages will love the challenges presented in Where’s The Doctor?

Learn more about illustrator Jamie Smart.

Learn more about BBC Children’s Books, Published by the Penguin Group.

Purchase Doctor Who: Where’s the Doctor? by Jamie Smart.

Doctor Who: 100 Scariest Monsters (2011)

Doctor Who: 100 Scariest Monsters
BBC Children’s Books, Published by the Penguin Group, 2011
208 pages

You can try, but you will never convince me that “Doctor Who” is just a kids’ show. I believe this book, Doctor Who: 100 Scariest Monsters, backs up my belief. From the Daleks to the Cybermen, the Nestene Consciousness to the Silence, there have been some truly terrifying villains on this BBC television series.

“Doctor Who” is one of the longest-running television shows in the world, and has an insanely loyal fan base. Everyone has a different favorite Doctor, companion, and villain. This book covers all eras of the franchise, from the first Doctor’s enemies (War Machines, Zarbi) to the eleventh Doctor’s foes (Peg Dolls, Krafayis). Full-color photos (when available), a short description, and a “Fear Factor” meter round out each entry, along with which Doctors did battle with each monster. It goes without saying, this is a must-have book for “Doctor Who” fans.

The only shortcoming I see in this book is the omisson of episode titles. It may not be difficult to ascertain which episodes feature the Hoix by using other resources, but it would nice to have all the information in one place.

Which is your favorite monster? Personally, the Weeping Angels have given me nightmares, and I can’t wait to see what role they play in the upcoming episodes.

Learn more about BBC Children’s Books, Published by the Penguin Group.

Purchase Doctor Who: 100 Scariest Monsters.

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