Doctor Who Novelisations

Louis Trapani's picture

Louis Trapani - Posted on 23 June 2009

The Tome Lord

Dr Who novels

Before video and DVD, Dr Who fans who wanted a fix of the Time Lord in between the TV shows relied on a series of official novels. Writing for the Magazine, Mark Gatiss recalls his love of Dr Who's adventures in print.

Even without the keys to a Tardis it's possible to transport some of us back to a magical childhood time when all nights seemed wintry and dark, the football results never ended and Doctor Who was the best show on television: the heroic Doctor, the fantastic monsters, the gently moralising stories... and during the eternity between new seasons of the TV programme, we had the books.

Mark Gatiss; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-attachment: initial; -webkit-background-clip: initial; -webkit-background-origin: initial; background-color: initial; background-position: 1px 0px;">Mark Gatiss presents On The Outside It Looked Like An Old- Fashioned Police Box on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 23 June at 1130 BST; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-attachment: initial; -webkit-background-clip: initial; -webkit-background-origin: initial; background-color: initial; background-position: 1px 0px;">Or hear it later here on the iPlayer

When Dr Who's early day are remembered, it's nearly always his televisual incarnation that's recalled.

But alongside the TV Doctor there was the much forgotten print Doctor - the Dr Who brought to life by a publishing imprint called Target books.

Target gave us exciting versions of the stories we had seen - and glimpses into a strange and mysterious past where the Doctor had been someone else.

Whenever I was off school my medicine of preference was always a well read copy of the Doctor's adventure on the planet Spirodon* - and maybe oxtail soup - because it took me light years away from my four walls in County Durham and into the Doctor's universe. What a comfort - and genuine inspiration - those books were.

Read the rest here: BBC News - The Tome Lord

7 Days left to listen to this as of today (June 23, 2009) 30 minutes

Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who writer and fanatic, explores the hugely popular Doctor Who novelisations of the 1970s and 80s, published by Target books. Featuring some of the best excerpts from the books and interviews with publishers, house writers, illustrators and the actors whose adventures the books tirelessly depicted.

In an age before DVD and video, the Target book series of Doctor Who fiction was conceived as the chance for children to 'keep' and revisit classic Doctor Who. They were marketed as such, written in a highly visual house style. Descriptive passages did the work of the TV camera and the scripts were more or less faithfully reproduced as dialogue.

The books were as close to the experience of watching as possible, and were adored by a generation of children who grew up transfixed by the classic BBC series. Target Doctor Who books became a children's publishing phenomenon - they sold over 13 million copies worldwide. From 1973 until 1994, the Target Doctor Who paperbacks were a mainstay of the publishing world.

A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4.

barnabeee's picture

Don't forget to listen to the radio programme too!

I have very fond memories of all of these books - and running to the local library in Carshalton every other day to get more books! Its how I discovered all the old stories, after finding the show on TV and I loved every single one of them (except for THE MUTANTS for some reason - it was always heavy going, but I loved the cover!). The Chris Achelios covers and the memories of Terrance Dicks' prose always make me smile!

(Of course, they lead me to view several of the episode with rose-colored glasses! THE INVASION OF TIME was so much fun as a book, and I loved the chase all over the TARDIS, but it was such a disappointment when I actually saw it!)


Announcing A Who York Evening with... Louise Jameson (Leela) Tuesday November 3, 2009 Tickets on sale at Follow us on Twitter
Louis Trapani's picture

Agreed. The 30 minute radio programme hosted by Mark Gatiss is well worth the listen. But if you are going to listen, do it before the end of the month. It's only available for the next six days now via the BBC iPlayer (and it is available outside of the UK). 




barnabeee's picture

...this should be a must-listen for any Who fan Absolutely delightful 30 minutes fo radio - full of love for the series and the books. And how lovely to hear from Chris Achilios!



Announcing A Who York Evening with... Louise Jameson (Leela) Tuesday November 3, 2009 Tickets on sale at Follow us on Twitter

The novelisations were my first, and fondest, memory of Doctor Who. It was several yeasr before a local PBS brought it to out area. A cousin in Ontario videotaped Logopolis and Castrovalva for me.

 I still read the novelisations, after countless times, every now and then and still enjoy them immensely

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