Doctor Who: Character Encyclopedia review

Can't tell a Dalek from a Cyberman? Maybe this who's who of Doctor Who can help...

Over the years DK Publishing has made a name for itself with its lavishly illustrated reference guides to iconic characters from the worlds of film, television and comic books. With Doctor Who celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it's no surprise to find the BBC's Time Lord getting in on the act.

Rather than simply update the Visual Dictionary it published back in 2010, DK Publishing has instead cooked up an entirely new hardback tome dedicated to the hundreds of creatures and characters that have appeared in the popular sci-fi show.

Despite the (understandable) decision to primarily showcase the latest incarnation of the Doctor and some of his more recent enemies on the cover, the Doctor Who: Visual Dictionary isn't simply a guide to the new-look show since its 2005 regeneration. Instead, it looks back across the entire 50 year history of the series, with its  entries running the gamut from the Abzorbaloff to Zygons. Along the way you can learn about all 11 incarnations of the Doctor to date, plus their many companions and the myriad people, aliens and robots that they encountered in this televised journeys.

The actual style of the book will be instantly familar to anyone who has encountered any of DK's previous guidebooks, mixing generous numbers of (mostly) good-looking photographs with a few paragraphs of informative text and a quick-look 'Data File' that fills you in on their homeworld, character traits and which incarnations of the Doctor they've encountered.

Despite it's admirable approach to giving equal weight to all eras of the series, the Doctor Who: Character Encyclopedia isn't perfect. The requirement to work towards a specific page count means that it simply can't be as all-encompassing as an online database - which means that it's innevitable that somebody's favourite monster won't be included (we're particularly aggrieved that The Creature from the Pit's spectacularly rude-looking Erato doesn't merit an entry, while Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen gets one in addition to the more general entry for the Slitheen).

The visual nature of the book also means that it is unable to go into the kind of detail that older fans might want. However, this is also a point in its favour, as it makes it a great book for younger fans. And it's focus on older characters as well as newer ones means that it could be the ideal tool for hardcore Doctor Who fans looking for a way of introducing their kids to the world of the classic series.

Doctor Who: Character Encyclopedia, DK Publishing, £13 Approx