In 2011, during an episode called ‘Night Terrors’, the eleventh Doctor spoke these memorable words to young George:
“When I was your age about, ooh, a thousand years ago, I loved a good bedtime story; ‘The Three Little Sontarans’, ‘The Emperor Dalek’s New Clothes’, ‘Snow White & The Seven Keys To Doomsday’, eh? All the classics!”
As a huge Doctor Who nerd with Who-tattoos and a plan to get a dog called Pond so I can say ‘Come along, Pond!’ every time we go out for walkies, I was immediately intrigued. I wanted to read the stories that had so enthralled my favourite Time Lord when he was just a mini-Gallifreyan with dreams of exploring the universe, although probably with the authorised use of a TARDIS and not following a massive war where he had to blow up his entire species, I’ll bet.
And now, thanks to ‘Time Lord Fairy Tales’, I can!
The fact that it’s written by Justin Richards, the creative consultant and veteran author of many Doctor Who books and audio books published by the BBC, means that it’s immediately obvious this is going to be something special. The dude really knows his stuff. And with fifteen fairy tales crammed into the book including, to my delight, two of the ones mentioned by The Doctor himself in ‘Night Terrors’, you’re looking at one happy Whovian right here.
Remaining true to the fairy tale format, the stories are short and easy to read, written for the benefit of small children but still very appealing to the child (and rampant Doctor Who fan) in all of us. If you’re having a busy day you can read a tale over a cup of coffee, or pick the book up during your lunchbreak without fear of losing your place. Or, you know, read it to your kids at bedtime if you like. It’s fine for that too.
But being short stories doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Quite a few of them are based on our own classic fairy tales but with an imaginative Doctor Who twist; ‘The Three Little Sontarans’ is based on ‘The Three Little Pigs’ for example, and there’s also ‘Little Rose Riding Hood’, ‘Jak & The Wormhole’ and ‘Sirgwain & The Green Knight’ to name but a few. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes them predictable though – while some do have the ‘happy ever after’ ending, some have some nice twists and turns, with the most memorable being ‘The Garden of Statues.’
The Doctor in his various incarnations makes a few appearances too, even playing a rather nifty, bow-tie-wearing fairy godmother at one point, but he’s never the main character and is only actually named as The Doctor in one of the stories. Even so, this fits very well with his M.O. of being the mysterious stranger who shows up, prods the characters in the right direction to save the day, and then buggers off again.
And the book itself is extremely sexy-looking. Published as a hard-back, it really is reminiscent of something a wee Time Lord would have on his bedside table. The illustrations by David Wardle are fantastic and really capture the fairy tale nature of the stories, almost engraving-like in their detail and picked out in gold highlights on the front and back covers.
All in all, this is a rather lovely tome, suitable for young and old. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be halfway through it before you realise you’re reading it in Matt Smith’s voice…
Viking Rating: 5 Axes (and a sonic screwdriver)