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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Froborr
    August 10, 2013 @ 12:16 am

    To be honest, other than one readthrough of the Discontinuity Guide about 15 years go, I've only read blogs. Other than here, I quite enjoyed Wife In Space and Mark Watches (which covers many different shows, but Doctor Who is one of the ones I read).

    Also, that cookbook sounds interesting. There is apparently some overlap in the markets for that and TARDIS Eruditorum.

    My brother-in-law spent a month experimenting with different custards until he made one that went well with fish fingers. It was a very lightly sweetened lemon custard IIRC.


  2. tom jones
    August 10, 2013 @ 12:45 am

    The Making Of Doctor Who in the mid 70s. I didn't get the first edition, which was about the Pertwee era; the version I got was in the early Tom Baker years. It listed all the stories up to Seeds of Doom, and I think all the companions, including the UNIT lot. It went into great detail about how a DW story was made, from start to finish (the example was Robot). A great book to introduce kids to the history and production of DW, and also a great example of how to do 'The Making Of …' in general


  3. Steven Clubb
    August 10, 2013 @ 1:06 am

    I'm not sure how I'd take to listening to the Big Finish audios without being in the middle of something. I usually listen to them at work when I can keep a decent amount of my attention on them.

    Of late, I've taken to listening to them twice within a short period of time as the more complex (or muddled) narratives become quite clear on the second go around. Not required for a straight-ahead narrative like "The Marian Conspiracy" where everything is exactly as it seems, but I find it helps immeasurably with a plot that involves any sort of double-dealing or people being forced to act out of character… or because the writer didn't realize a crucial scene isn't well suited to audio.

    But if I couldn't listen to them at work or on the commute to work, I'm not sure when I would bother to find the time.


  4. Scott
    August 10, 2013 @ 1:17 am

    I haven't read Doctor Who non-fiction in years aside from TARDIS Eruditorum (suck-up alert!), but I do have fond memories of Gary Gillatt's Doctor Who: From A-Z (which ISN'T an encyclopaedia of monsters or anything like that).


  5. Bennett
    August 10, 2013 @ 1:19 am

    "…and put in an essay on the most obvious and important book that I never talked about at any length. A hat tip to whichever commenter first identifies it."

    Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks perhaps?


  6. Bennett
    August 10, 2013 @ 1:30 am

    On topic: The two non-fiction Who books on my bookshelf are The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter and The Unfolding Text*. The first is compulsory reading, while the latter is a bit of a slog (though you can get something out of it if you skip to the parts which quote an interview with someone behind-the-scenes).

    *Eruditorum sits proudly on my virtual bookshelf.


  7. elvwood
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:25 am

    I listen to Big Finish audios a lot when walking the dog, cooking and washing up, occasionally when doing my exercises. Even though I no longer commute that adds up to quite a chunk of my time, so they are my main form of Who.

    Almost the only time I listen to them without doing something else is when the children have been listening too, and want to get to the end. If I am writing a review I may relisten to sections with pen and paper in hand; but mostly jotting down the occasional aide memoire is enough.

    It's interesting; I am very comfortable listening to the audios and find recons a terrible slog, whereas for other people it's the reverse. To be honest if I had to choose between losing the TV or the audios for the fifth, sixth and eighth Doctors, I would choose to keep the audios. (It's borderline with the seventh.)


  8. elvwood
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:43 am

    I adored the Radio Times 10th Anniversary magazine as a child. When I was getting back into Who in 2006-2007 I made much use of Mark Campbell's guide to find out what was out there and decide what to get (until I realised my taste was completely different to his). I'd also scan my son's copy of Jean-Marc L'Officier's Programme Guide for info. Now most of it's in my head, or discarded in favour of my own opinion. I've also scanned some stuff that came as DVD extras, though not read any of it cover to cover. The same goes for the You and Who series – we've got the first three volumes because me and my children each have an essay in one of the books, but I've probably read about a quarter of the other entries.

    One borderline non-fiction book I've read a lot is Lance Parkin's AHistory 2.0. Most of it is in-universe stuff, but hey, it's got footnotes!

    I'm interested in Running Through Corridors and the About Time series, but haven't forked out for them yet. I will read the storybundle books eventually, but so far have only scanned a few of the recipes.

    So the only wholly non-fiction, non-programme-guide-type books I've read thoroughly are the Eruditorum books. Sorry.


  9. peeeeeeet
    August 10, 2013 @ 3:10 am

    Discontinuity is my most dog-eared. Completely Useless Encyclopedia was a joy when it was first out, though now a lot of the jokes seem repetitive and superficial, though there are still gems I bring to mind ever now and again. Licence Denied was important in bringing fan crit to a more general audience. A lot of it is nothing special by today's standards, but it is a fascinating snapshot of old-school fan attitudes.

    One to avoid is "Science Fiction Audiences" – the Trek half is interesting to this non-Trekster and very sharply dissects Rodenberry's smug faux liberalism. The Doctor Who half is a mess of garbled ideas that never quite form an argument, which is a crying shame because the basis of it has a lot of potential.


  10. Marionette
    August 10, 2013 @ 3:32 am

    I remember enjoying the Discontinuity Guide, though I haven't looked at it in years. I listen to some Big Finish but they are rather hit and miss for me. I avoid the CD Extras as the are full of lovies patting each other on the back, which comes across as unbearably smug when the story isn't actually that good.

    When was the last time they did anything as original as Flip Flop?


  11. Anton B
    August 10, 2013 @ 3:37 am

    I can't remember if you wrote at any length about Whittaker's 'Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks' if not is that thebook you've added to the Hartnell revisions? I hope so. It's an intriguingly different take on the opening episode. I've often wondered why he decided to replace Totters Lane with a foggy night on Barnes Common.


  12. Lewis Christian
    August 10, 2013 @ 4:05 am

    "Regeneration" is a fascinating book – one of my faves – with all the proposed Movie ideas/bibles. So much stuff about the McGann film along with Doctor casting, abandoned story ideas etc.


  13. Steven Clubb
    August 10, 2013 @ 4:05 am

    With me, there's so much competition for the TV screen, I can never find the time to rewatch the recons. I do listen to the narrated soundtracks from time to time because I have plenty of time to listen to stuff.


  14. Arkadin
    August 10, 2013 @ 4:31 am

    Would that book be The Guardians of Time by Poul Anderson? Which, according to BBC documents, was what got them considering the idea of a series about time travel.


  15. storiteller
    August 10, 2013 @ 5:02 am

    I'm with Froborr – I think there is somewhat of an audience crossover between these books, because when I read there was a Doctor Who cookbook, I said, "Oooh!" My husband is a professional chef and I like cooking, so I like getting fun/unique cookbooks. However, your description was quite helpful because I actually don't think I'll buy it now (unless as part of the larger bundle). Those recipes seem a little too juvenile for me – more Marvel cookbook for kids (terrible but hilarious) and less The Hunger Games Cookbook (wild game!).

    As for fan memoirs, one of the best I've read is Freddie and Me, a graphic novel about the author's love of the band Queen. I picked it up at SPX, the indie comics convention, and it was definitely worth it.


  16. Daibhid C
    August 10, 2013 @ 5:58 am

    To be honest, I lost interest in the cookbook as soon as it became clear it was "recipes with a vague visual connection to Doctor Who" not "recipes from Doctor Who" (because there aren't any, except fish fingers and custard). I like my novelty tie-in cookbooks to have a stronger connection to the source material than that. (My favourite is Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, with which I've got quite skilled at making dwarf bread, jammy devils and Wow-Wow Sauce, but I still have fond memories of being a kid and making Jeremy Fisher's Butterfly Sandwiches from the Peter Rabbit Cookbook).

    Back on topic, my most consulted DW non-fiction book is probably AHistory, because I like pretending it all fits together, even though I know it doesn't and shouldn't have to. And I get the impression Parkin knows that as well, but he likes pretending too.


  17. matt bracher
    August 10, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    Quite bitter, I am, that you are holding About Time.


  18. Ewa Woowa
    August 10, 2013 @ 7:45 am

    Err… Have you considered pointing your brother in law towards the outdoors?
    Or buying him a pet? Or introducing him to the concept of girls?

    I own the 6 About Time books, and AHistory, and the 3 Euriditorums…
    Oh, and A Writers Tale, and An Unfolding Text, and The Making of DrWho…
    Oh, and A Key to Time, And A Celebration, and Timeframe, and The Seventies…
    Oh, and William Shatner's Star Trek: Movie Memories…

    Holy c***, I've just realised that that is about £250 worth of DrWho reference books…


  19. matt bracher
    August 10, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    But aside from that, where there are still so many episodes I haven't read just for lack of time and attention span, the first nonfiction guides I bought were the two-part Programme Guide. Many years later I happily purchased the three-volume set, and then a few years ago I suggested to Lofficier that he offer them in Kindle [although now I'd want Nook] editions. He said that there were so many websites with the same information that there would be little interest.

    …and last year, when I complained about the many formatting and spelling issues in the Kindle edition of the Programme Guide, he was astonished. He didn't know that the publisher was selling it as an ebook.

    I completed my set of The Handbook just so that I'd have the set to sit on the shelf. Sadly I'd lost interest as it continued.

    The MOST eye-opening book, though, was Lance Parkin's A History of the Universe! FANTASTIC it was! Not only was it a timeline, but it was heavily footnoted with his sources and thought process!

    …its only drawbacks being that the page format had some footnotes pages away from their references, and that by the eightieth Cyber-computer entry it got old. Aside from that, the primary documents — journal entries and such — were magnificent and sorely missed in the next edition.

    I own all three editions of AHISTORY, and actually two copies of the third edition: the first copy got mangled. Otherwise I'd buy the Nook edition, just to have the references as hot links.

    There are only two personal flaws with AHISTORY. First is the fact that the shortest footnotes don't include the medium (the universe has grown so vast, I have NO IDEA whether "Imperial Moon" is an audio, novel (which range?), comic strip, or some other form, and I would like to know that without having to look it up. Second that it's grown so HUGE that I'm overwhelmed — hence the wistful longing for a less expensive etext, and the wish for more complete footnotes.

    My only wish would be to own the fanzine edition of Parkin's history. But the few times it's shown up on eBay I've had to laugh. I'd like to have it, but not enough to outweigh the Nook version of its fifth edition.


  20. matt bracher
    August 10, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    (Apologies that I didn't preview first. One parenthetical got lost, and at the start I jumped without warning from About Time to Lofficier's work.)

    To summarize, ABOUT TIME and AHISTORY are the ones I've enjoyed and appreciate the most. (The copy of AHISTORY that I replaced got mangled in my classroom at school. Ah well.)

    I'd actually take David J. Howe's gorgeous Timeframe to school, just so it could be enjoyed by the many despite potential mishandling, but for the picture of Katy Manning fondling (actually embracing) a Dalek. I'd be shot for bringing that picture to school.


  21. matt bracher
    August 10, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    I hadn't heard of this. Have you (or anyone else) read The Nth Doctor by Lofficier? I'd be curious how they compare.


  22. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 10, 2013 @ 8:51 am

    tips hat


  23. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 10, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    More to the point, it's a major work by David Whitaker that I've never said a word about. Now I just need to figure out where to work in his bizarre yet fascinating prologue to Doctor Who and the Crusaders…


  24. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 10, 2013 @ 8:55 am

    If Regeneration is the book I'm thinking of, I've read both. Regeneration has a lot more detail – The Nth Doctor was basically Lofficier writing an unauthorized book cribbed from things he got from Segal by worming his way in as a "fan advisor," Ian Levine style, at least in Segal's telling. From Segal's description, this consisted of him getting sent scripts and documents, him running off and writing an unauthorized book about it, and little else.

    Reading the book, this is believable – Lofficier's book is written like someone who's afraid of a lawsuit if he quotes too much. Regeneration's authorized status means that whole swaths of the Leekley Bible get reprinted, and we get much more of a feel of what the McGann movie saved us from.


  25. jane
    August 10, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    I quite like Outside In: 160 New Perspectives… edited by Robert Smith? and which includes my favorite Sandifer essay. It's all Classic Who material (a second volume on the Revival is on its way) and it's stunning how many different takes people have on the show. Some readings are redemptive, some critical, and some plainly bonkers — though in a delightfully creative way.

    I wish Chicks Dig Time Lords was more oriented to meta and analysis of the show, but it's a fine entry that deserves to be on every Who fan's bookshelf.


  26. Theonlyspiral
    August 10, 2013 @ 10:34 am

    This blog. That's it.


  27. BerserkRL
    August 10, 2013 @ 10:46 am

    not "recipes from Doctor Who" (because there aren't any, except fish fingers and custard

    Well, there's the marmite on socks bit that was cut from "The Doctor's Wife."


  28. Andrew Hickey
    August 10, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    Obviously, for reference, The Handbook.
    For enjoyable reading, Miles & Wood, Shearman & Hadoke, and especially Andrew Rilstone's writing (which got me back into Doctor Who about thirteen years ago).
    AHistory for the sheer unbridled lunacy of the thing.


  29. Matthew Blanchette
    August 10, 2013 @ 11:19 am

    There is at least one recipe — The Doctor's omelette from "The Lodger".


  30. Matthew Blanchette
    August 10, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    holds empty hands up sadly, shakes head

    Alas, I have none. πŸ™


  31. Pen Name Pending
    August 10, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    Unfortunately the main reference books that interest me (The Sixties/Seventies/Eighties, etc) are out of print…I have The Brilliant Book 2012 which is fun and actually has some interesting stuff (like how many drafts "The Curse of the Black Spot" went through), and I have the revived series guide (up to 2011) Who is the Doctor by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith? which is an interesting read as well, giving me positive perspectives on stories I didn't think much about and more critical perspectives on stories I like. It's the basis for my claim that there's a good and bad to almost every Doctor Who story. I also have Doctor Who and Philosophy, which I'll have to look back at again now that I'm more familiar with the classic series, but I still feel like it's already outdated (was published in 2010) because the chapters on time travel and the Weeping Angels would be improved by the Moffat era. I also like the Inside the TARDIS book by James Chapman (mostly available on Google Books) for some general insights into the evolution of the series. And then there is, you know, this blog.

    I also love the DVD extras.


  32. Nick Smale
    August 10, 2013 @ 11:54 am

    I too would would have to go with the Radio Times Tenth Anniversary Special; it's hard to believe that it's been forty years since I handed over my 30p (two week's pocket money!) to purchase a copy.


  33. matt bracher
    August 10, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

    I just found it on Amazon. I never knew it existed.

    Pity that it's not available electronically….


  34. Josh Marsfelder
    August 10, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

    Self-professed massive Doctor Who fan Alton Brown came up with a Fish Fingers in Custard recipe for the premier of Series 6. My family decided to make it, and I have to say it was really good:


    As for other Doctor Who nonfiction works, I unfortunately have to admit I never really read much of them, certainly not compared with my library of Star Trek nonfiction works, so I wouldn't know what to begin to recommend.

    I did read a lot of Starlog magazine though, and they frequently had articles on the Classic Series. That was one of the first places that introduced me to it, actually.


  35. Wm Keith
    August 10, 2013 @ 1:43 pm


    My garage is full of Lance Parkin's Chronology (third printing).

    Email me if you want a copy. And I shall see what I can do.

    Wmkeithmatrix in the vicinity of googlemail.


  36. Wm Keith
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

    Oh my Crusaders, there is so much to write about. The explanation of why only Earth's history is immutable. The languid sensuality of the intro. The Ian\Barbara shipping (the story consists of a spoonerish Doctor\Vicki panto gift-wrapping Ian\Barbara slash fiction as it might have been written by Sir Walter Scott, only without his inbuilt non-Englishness).

    And then there's the kitchen-sink opening to Exciting Adventure, the unfortunately explicit equivalence of good looks and good character, the way the whole story is written as an Ian\Barbara love story with occasional Daleks, and, of course, the bizarre Marc Bolan tribute which, as I have said before, resolves UNIT dating to my entire satisfaction.

    Good night.


  37. Wm Keith
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

    There's the "Rememberance" recipe for a cup of tea.

    And the infamous Molotov Cocktail instructions from (is it?) "Seeds of Doom".


  38. Wm Keith
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

    I find an imperfect memory the best reference guide.


  39. Matthew Blanchette
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

    "Curse of the Black Spot" went through more than one draft? You're not confusing it with "The Doctor's Wife", are you? :-/


  40. Dan
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  41. Dan
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    When it came out, the original two volume Episode Guide was a quantum leap (in the sense of something vast, not tiny) from The Making of Doctor Who.

    I also loved The Early Years, the same format as Doctor Who: A Celebration and The Key to Time for the twentieth and twenty first years respectively, but so much more dark and mysterious. Also great on Raymond Cusick. These books had a lot of emphasis on visuals and Early Years delivered on that.

    I'm not sure I count as a real fan being one of these people who left it behind at a certain point, and coming back you see curious changes in fandom, such as referring to whole stories as "episodes". (Yes, that's a minor example.) But from different tangents Wife in Space and Eruditorum have helped re-ignite my love of the show. That and the fact it revived of course.


  42. Dan
    August 10, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

    My mistake, it was called the Doctor Who Programme Guide. It was the bible.



  43. ferret
    August 10, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

    There's one, maybe two more from Image of the Fendahl: the Doctor's fruit cake recipe (peanuts mixed with treacle and apple cores – bake for two weeks) and perhaps Martha Tyler's fruit cake recipe too, if she goes into any detail after waking from her coma and declaring "Here. Just a minute. That's ain't the way to make a fruitcake."


  44. matt bracher
    August 10, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

    And a wonderful thing it was. My only grumble was that it featured five Doctors on the cover — but only included through the fourth's finale in "Logopolis". [IIRC]

    Having an INDEX to so many places and people and things was a delight! Years later, after the series was well and dead, Lofficier issued a one-inch-thick Terrestrial Index which was a major update.


  45. Eric Gimlin
    August 10, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

    I think I currently own 8 Doctor Who nonfiction books, the 3 previously released TE volumes and the storybundle batch. By the way, Philip apparently is engaged in an experiment to see how many times I'll buy the Troughton volume. It's currently at 3- ebook, print via the Kickstarter, and now an extra ebook via storybundle. I assume this is a parallel to the BBC's efforts to see how many times they can sell us the episodes in various forms. (They have yet to get me to buy anything more than twice, which puts Phil in the lead there. Although Underwater Menace 3 may break that record if they release it with 2, since I've got both Lost in Time and the audio.)

    Nonfiction sources that I use online, however, include the BBC website (which has extensive quotes from the Discontinuity Guide and Doctor Who, the Television Companion), Wikipedia (if there's less than a million words on Doctor Who there I'll be surprised), and Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel).


  46. Anton B
    August 11, 2013 @ 3:32 am

    Had to think about the Bolan reference, but my Gods! You're right!


  47. Pen Name Pending
    August 11, 2013 @ 7:18 am

    Oh no – according to the book there were 9 drafts of it. It was originally about Amy wanting to go to Cornwall on a holiday, but they arrived 300 years too early and pirates were looting the streets and they ran into Avery who was looking for his wife, who had been stolen by some monster. There was nothing on the water whatsoever.


  48. Matthew Blanchette
    August 11, 2013 @ 7:47 am

    eyebrows shoot up past forehead, hit the stratosphere and enter space


  49. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 11, 2013 @ 7:50 am

    To be fair, the sloppiest part of Black Spot isn't the writing, it's the editing.


  50. Travis Butler
    August 11, 2013 @ 8:45 am

    Agreed that the Lofficier books were invaluable references in the days before the WWW. Unfolding Text… well, was a slog in all the worst traditions of dull dry academic writing, and chock-full of the kind of 'biased reading into the text' writing I hate.

    The Peter Haining books, while very light and breezy and (in the later books) focusing too much on fandom than on the show itself, were better than nothing until I found the Lofficier books.

    About Time and the Discontinuity Guide… a mix of interesting/thought-provoking reviews, and (especially in About Time) rather mad excursions off the reservation. Very much worth having, but not necessarily worth trusting.


  51. Ununnilium
    August 11, 2013 @ 10:08 am

    L'officier's book is also written like someone who has absolutely no taste. Gushing about the many iterations of the "streetwise kid" archetype, including "a Hispanic youth nicknamed Spanish"!?


  52. Froborr
    August 11, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    It would never in a million years have occurred to me that Alton Brown is a Doctor Who fan, and yet it makes total sense. Of course he would be.


  53. Josh Marsfelder
    August 11, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

    When the show is on, he posts his thoughts on each episode on Twitter, and before the announcement of Peter Capaldi, Alton was one of the many celebrities half-jokingly suggesting that they should be the next Doctor.


  54. Matthew Blanchette
    August 11, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

    If you mean the magically disappearing pirate, that's really the least of its problems… one of which being the utterly bizarre and nonsensical TARDIS-set portion of the climax.


  55. Matthew Blanchette
    August 11, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

    YES. Shannon Sullivan is quite invaluable as a source for the classic series; with the new series, however, there's unfortunately not so much info to pick from. πŸ™


  56. William Silvia
    August 11, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

    This isn't especially relevant this moment, but I was wondering, by any chance have you done any discussion of Peter Davison's show during the wilderness years? You know, the one that banked the entire chances of success on the fact that that the audience would recognize him as the Doctor?

    I'm referring, of course, to The Last Detective. I'm kind of interested what your take on it would be, and if you've watched and come to some of the same conclusions I have about it.


  57. Spoilers Below
    August 13, 2013 @ 7:03 am

    I thought The Last Detective was for folks who remembered him from Campion? Or were fans of At Home with the Braithwaites?


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