Back in the dark days of the late 1980s when the original series of Doctor Who was dying a slow death on television, there was little so profoundly and irremediably unfashionable as to declare oneself a fan of that overlooked and underfunded show. To do so was to invite immediate social exile and to be admitted to the club of perpetual uncool. Since Russell T Davies’s triumphant revivification of the programme in 2005, however, that situation has undergone so complete a reversal that it is now seemingly de rigueur to admit to a lifelong passion for the programme. So potent has been the success of the Saturday-night family drama that it has attracted contributions, either on screen or in a variety of spin-off media, from authors actively seeking to associate themselves with the franchise as diverse as Frank Cottrell Boyce, Jake Arnott, Neil Gaiman, Matthew Sweet and Mark Ravenhill. Long-time fans will recognise, perhaps, that what attracts these luminaries is the versatility of the format, its licence for wild creativity and its place, unique and now seemingly unassailable, in British popular culture.
The latest to do so is A L Kennedy, who, in an arguably slightly unexpected career move, has written for BBC Books a lithe and witty full-length Doctor Who novel, The Drosten’s Curse. Featuring Kennedy’s detailed and persuasive interpretation of the fourth incarnation of the character (played, indelibly, on screen, with hat, curls and scarf, by Tom Baker), it is set in the