Shiny Shelf

Running Through Corridors

By Matthew Badham on 28 April 2011

I have a confession to make. I’m a crap ‘Doctor Who’ fan. In fact, when it comes to the (Extraordinary?) League of Whovians, I’m definitely Fourth Division. When Season 24 was mentioned in the pub, I had to ask which one that was; I still can’t pronounce ‘Frontios’; and I switched off 10 minutes into ‘The Time Meddler’. (I don’t care if it’s a classic. I was bored and life’s too short. [You are dead to us -- Ed.] Having said that, I managed to sit through all four episodes of ‘The Ark’, so… go figure.) [OK, you're alive to us again now -- Ed.]

Anyway, why did I decide to pick up ‘Running Through Corridors – Volume One: The Sixties’ (Mad Norwegien Press)? Surely I’m the last person who would be expected to enjoy this ‘epic quest of friendship’, which sees Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke attempt to watch every episode of Doctor Who in a year while exchanging their thoughts about each via email. Well, yes and no…

You see, I very much enjoyed Toby’s one-man show, ‘Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf’, and found him enjoyable company when I (co-) interviewed him for a fanzine (the piece subsequently got spiked… ah, well). And I’d seen Robert Shearman speak at a con and he was just great, witty, interesting and full of insight. Both struck me as the sort of people who would be fun to sit and chin-wag with in the pub. And that’s what ‘Running Through Corridors’ is, a massive chin-wag between Toby and Robert that you’re invited to, if you so desire. It takes in all of the Hartnell and Troughton stories, and the Peter Cushing films (there are going to be two more volumes, covering every episode of ‘Who’ right up until David Tennant’s swan-song).

I suppose the big question, then, is whether this concept and format works?

Well, it did for me. I imagine there are a number of ways in which you could read this book. You could emulate Robert and Toby’s ‘epic quest of friendship’ and after watching each episode of ‘Who’, turn to ‘Running Through Corridors’ to see if your opinions chime with those of the authors (who, it should be noted, don’t always agree with each other). Or you could do things the opposite way round, reading each entry prior to watching the relevant episode, so that your viewing experiences “benefit” from Shearman and Hadoke’s various insights.

I did neither of those things, however. Instead, I read the book straight through in a couple of sittings, without watching any Hartnell or Troughton at all (although I have seen my fair share in the past).

‘Running Through Corridors’ succeeds because the format is loose enough to allow the authors room for conversational roaming. This is not a “programme guide”. Instead, it’s an opportunity to sit with two erudite friends as they explore a subject they are passionate about. Consequently, both authors fail to confine themselves to a simple critical appraisal of each episode. Instead, they use ‘Who’ as a jumping-off point to explore everything from social history to politics to fandom, and much more besides.

‘Running Through Corrridors’ is a great book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And if you’re a fan of ‘Doctor Who’, I would be very surprised if you didn’t enjoy it too.

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By Matthew Badham