Book Review: ‘The Quotable Doctor Who’ by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright


On paper a book of quotes isn’t much to dissect unless there is a continuous theme and even more so if it’s a book of quotes from a famous television series. The Quotable Doctor Who, published by Harper Collins, however, is chock full of great quotations that have great context behind them and for the average fan can be a wonderful exploration into the history of the show without even having to search Wikipedia for a comprehensive one.


The book navigates through the show’s very beginning in a junkyard in Totter’s Lane all the way up to the fields of Trenzalore. With a new life cycle and assumingly new life to the show on the way this front to back examination of all the best moments in the show’s 50 year history is a solid compendium for the character’s initial lifespan. I’m hard pressed not to name off my favorite quotes from the series because they are all here but needless to say they are profound. Even using the word profound speaks volumes about the wealth of great quotes from the show but not every one of them is designed to have that kind of an impact. Off-hand remarks in dialogue tend to be favorites for some fans so it’s important to note that the book covers every possible avenue ranging from off the cuff jokes to legendary monologues and exchanges.

To give an example let’s focus on the first chapter of quotes devoted to the man himself; The Doctor. Subsections vary in actual depth and substance ranging from “First Words” which aren’t usually weighty to declarations about the wonders of the universe. Surprisingly there is no section devoted to each incarnation’s famous last words which in some cases are deeper than anything else in their time. If you are just starting out with either era of the show there is a great sense of personality and character gained in reading quotes from the various incarnations of the Doctor some that may make a fan inclined to check out a particular one and some that may tell them to say away. Not all the quotes are catered to the Doctor obviously; there a many from various companions as well as notable ones from many of the show’s noted villains. You wouldn’t think a whole chapter on the Daleks would be riveting but the combination of actual Dalek quotes and ones made by other characters puts the legend of these pepper pots into context.

If you are a DW historian like I am it’s interesting to read over some of these quotes and look back on the writers who put them to paper. From the works of classic show legends like Terrance Dicks to Robert Holmes all the way up to Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat there is much love and care taken in making the Doctor’s words wise and grandiose. A larger than life figure deserves larger than life dialogue that also has meaning beyond just what they are on screen. It’s a great examination of the various themes that pop up in the show; themes ranging from the fight of good and evil, optimism and how important an individual is in the universe. This speaks volume about the heart of the show and the values that go with it.

If anything the Quotable Doctor Who is great to bust out philosophical quotes at a party to the unaware or vanquishing an enemy’s attempt to call you out on getting a line wrong. It’s a skim at best that is worth the time but don’t expect a cover to cover exploration that is overly enlightening; it’s just a nice addition to your already crowded shelf devoted to your favorite Timelord.

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Jason Stives is the Music Editor of Pop-Break as well as the resident Anglophile and Pop-Break representative for BBC America conducting weekly reviews of Doctor Who and Orphan Black. He is currently a contributing writer for and a freelance creative consultant for fundraising and marketing campaigns in New Jersey’s various art communities. He is a graduate of Rutgers University’s class of 2010 with a bachelors in Journalism and Media Studies. When he isn’t attending concerts or writing the great American novel he moonlights as lounge crooner J.M Heavyhart turning the works of Dokken and Dio into Sinatra-esque standards (or at least he would like to be). Follow his constant retweets and occasionally witty banter on Twitter at @jaystives.