Doctor Who is a British science fiction show that first aired in 1963. Since then we have seen eleven incarnations of the Doctor—a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels through space and time in his 'borrowed' type 40 time capsule (TARDIS, which stands for: Time and Relative Dimension in Space); he often stumbles into trouble and improvises his way out of it. Instead of dying, Time Lords possess the ability to regenerate.
If you have never seen the series it can be very daunting to watch an episode decades after the original debut without any context. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of an English institution there is one novel that is the perfect introduction to such a gargantuan franchise and does not assume that the reader has prior knowledge of the show. The Eight Doctors by former Doctor Who script editor Terrance Dicks, first published by BBC Books in 1997.
Set immediately after the 1996 movie, the eighth Doctor—alone in his TARDIS—inadvertently triggers a booby trap left behind by his nemesis, the Master. In a flash, the Doctor suffers a serious case of amnesia and the only way to cure himself is to trust the TARDIS and meet each of his former selves.
Permanently disguised as a police box, The TARDIS's first stop is Totters Lane (present day London). Confused and curious, the Doctor steps out and finds himself saving a young woman, Sam Jones, from local drug dealers. Throughout the course of the novel Sam Jones joins the Doctor as he lets the TARDIS take him to the next destination.
As the plot trundles along, we learn more about the Doctor's other personalities: the arrogant old man; the recorder-playing clown; the inventor in the cravat; the cosmic hobo with the scarf; the young man with the cricket whites and the celery; the aggressive Time Lord proudly wearing his loud jacket; the cunning intellectual with the umbrella and hat; and the romantic protagonist.
For those familiar with the TV series, there are some excellent references to specific episodes that are in some cases continuations or alternative perspectives to events depicted on-screen. The narrative is satisfyingly rich with Gallifreyan lore.
If this is your first foray into Doctor Who, then be assured that the novel is entertaining for both fans of the show and people who are new to the canon.