A target with the words Escape to Danger

Working through the Target Doctor Who novels, one by one, in order of publication.

In 1973, a fledgling imprint called Target published a selection of books aimed at younger readers. Among them were reprints of three adaptations of Doctor Who stories from the 1960s, which kickstarted a phenomenon in children’s publishing.

I entered 2020 with ambitions to read every one of these original novelisations and reached May without having turned a single page. A chance Twitter conversation inspired me to put my plan into action – and a quick Twitter poll decided how I’d go about it.

Due to the way the Target books were released, their own chronology didn’t follow that of the TV show; the first three books were selected gems from the First Doctor, then Target’s own commissions were from the current (Third) Doctor, but not every story was selected for adaptation – not at first, at least. So the first book offers us a completely new origin story for how Ian and Barbara met the Doctor and Susan; we get two incompatible ‘first’ adventures for Jo Grant; and the events surrounding the departure and return to Space Station Nerva are most confusing.

I could have just followed the order of the serials as broadcast and note the contrasting styles across stories adapted sometimes decades apart, but the decision to follow publication order allowed me to see the range grow and evolve over time as it approached these novelisations with different audiences in mind. As the back cover blurbs on Target books used to remind us, the Daily Sketch once called Doctor Who ‘the children’s own programme which adults adore’, but what happens when that child grows up?

… and will I even get to the end?

One way to keep me on track is to write a blog, so I have deadlines to keep – and what better title for the blog than ‘Escape to Danger’, variants of which were used for many chapters across the series. Here we go!

Begin the pilgrimage here…