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Friday, 22 November 2013

Fifty Years in Time and Space 22 -Time Lord Literature

The first Doctor Who novel was published in 1964 - titled Dr Who in an exciting adventure with the Daleks, author David Whitaker wrote an alternative history of Doctor Who. In the novel Ian and Barbara actually come across the TARDIS on Barnes Common and their first adventure is not, as in the TV show, in prehistoric Britain but on Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks. Whitaker would also pen the novelisation of his own Who story, The Crusaders. Alongside Bill Strutton's novelisation of the TV story, The Web Planet, these were the only Who novels published during the Sixties. Strutton's story was retitled Doctor Who and the Zarbi for the novel.

Although there were various Doctor Who annuals and reference books published following the first spate of novels it wouldn't be until 1972 that Doctor Who novels proper returned. Target Books retitled Whitaker's first novel to Doctor Who and the Daleks and it flew off the shelves, despite the fact that on TV Jon Pertwee was now the Doctor but the book had William Hartnell on the cover. Realising they were onto a good thing Target books contacted the BBC with a view to novelising other Doctor Who stories. The BBC liked the idea and scriptwriter Terence Dicks contributed to the series by novelising many of his stories.

When the Auton Invasion by Terence Dicks sold upwards of 70,000 copies and set the blueprint for the Target series - the straightforward retelling  of recent TV adventures. And then in 1974 the series was expanded to include adventures of the past Doctors - through the years Target would issue 156 Doctor Who novels.

In 1989 with the TV series now out of production Virgin Books won the contract to continue the series in a range of all original Doctor Who adventures. Initially the books would tell the continuing adventures of the seventh Doctor and his companion, Ace. The new series of Who books were far more adult version of Doctor Who and many of the writers would go onto pen episodes for the revived Doctor Who series. The books went under the collective of The New Adventures were so successful that they spawned a series titled, The Missing Adventures  which featured previous Doctors.

In 1994 the BBC brought the book series back in house because it was hoped the Paul McGann TV-movie would lead to a new series/. The new series never came about but the book series came back in 1997 with Terence Dicks writing  story entitled, The Eight Doctors. This led to another past Doctors series of books which ran to 76 titles.

Fast forward to 2005 and Doctor Who is back on TV screens and more popular than ever - BBC Books found that not only was the new TV series bigger than ever but so were the books and many of them made the top ten bestseller lists. And in recent years the BBC have published Doctor Who novels by respected SF giants such as Michael Moorcock and Stephen Baxter.

The Doctor Who books continue to this day - for not only is Doctor Who a TV phenomena but a publishing one too.

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