Dimensions in Time – Author Notes

The Rani standing in front of a whirl of stars and planets

Having now read every Target book, I thought I’d have a go at novelising the one televised story we’re unlikely to ever see in Target form. It also has the distinction of being the only TV story we’re unlikely to see with an official home video / DVD release, due to various contractual nightmares, so this would serve the same function as those original Target books of telling a story you might not have seen on broadcast. While there are some jokes slipped in, I set myself the challenge of treating it seriously, as if it were a ‘proper’ TV adventure.

The first line is a tribute to Terrance Dicks’ opener for Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth (1977). The first chapter depicts new events leading up to and out of the Doctor’s warning to his other selves. The reference to the Rani hating children has been omitted (sorry!). The boy who discovers the Doctor in his yard was going to be Ian Beale, until I realised that the Ian as seen on TV was actually the wrong age. Pauline’s elder son Mark was a better fit, so he was swapped in. 

Chapter 2 references a few stories: The backstory to Underworld and the near-eradication of the Minyans; the Doctor’s departure from Gallifrey as shown in Name of the Doctor; and the Doctor’s trial in The War Games and subsequent exile to Earth. The Rani’s TARDIS control room is the one seen in Mark of the Rani, with the addition of a separate corridor where the menagerie is kept. The disembodied heads of the Doctors are avatars, not the actual heads (explaining why they look like rubber heads on telly). The descriptions of the first two Doctors are inspired by similar lines in The Five Doctors (1983), again by Terrance. A Wirrn is added to the Rani’s collection. Although not given on screen, the name of the Rani’s companion Cyrian appears in the scripts. For many years, fandom had another name for him – ‘Shagg’ – something actor Samuel West recently acknowledged he was aware of on Twitter!

Chapter 3 sees the TARDIS arrive with the ‘wheezing, groaning’ noise introduced by Terrance Dicks in Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion (1974). The description of the Seventh Doctor and Ace is inspired by similar lines in Terrance Dicks’ original New Adventures novel, Timewyrm: Exodus. The ‘JUST MARRIED’ headline from the TV episodes is expanded upon – as the wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Philips took place a couple of weeks before that sequence was set. The Sixth Doctor’s description cribs from Terrance Dicks’ The Mysterious Planet (1988), while Mel’s ‘inquisitive glint’ comes from Pip and Jane Baker’s The Ultimate Foe (1988).

Chapter 4 provides some of Kathy Hills-Beale’s backstory, to introduce some of the contrivances inherent in soap opera plotting (and to foreshadow the revelation later in the story). As seen on TV, Kathy’s son Ian was too old for 1973, so he’s shown as a quiet three-year-old here. The description of Susan comes from The Five Doctors, while her back story includes details from An Unearthly Child and Nigel Robinson’s adaptation of Edge of Destruction. The Fifth Doctor is said to have a ‘pleasant, open face’, a description first used by Terrance Dicks in Four to Doomsday (1983). As the Doctor searches his memories, he sees fog, a tenuous reference to the very first shot of An Unearthly Child. The Ogron description comes from Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (1974), while the Cyberman is from The Wheel in Space (1988)

Chapter 5 introduces a new idea, that the first Doctor is influencing events in the favour of his other selves (which also explains how the Doctor suddenly acquires multiple companions!). The alternative dimensions that flick from the big man to the sleight girl refer to the TV viewers’ vote as to which EastEnders character would be involved in episode 2 – Big Ron or Mandy (and the dimension readings are, of course, the phone numbers for the voting). Bessie’s description is another steal from The Five Doctors. The Doctor checks to see if Mike is an Auton, referring back to a similar rescue by car in The Terror of the Autons, while the backstory for Liz and the Brigadier is from Spearhead from Space. The joke about the Mitchell brothers speaking in ‘wheezing, groaning’ voices was suggested by author Will Maclean – cheers Will!

Chapter 6 provides Frank Butcher’s backstory and the explanation for exactly why Albert Square is the perfect setting for the Rani’s trap.

Chapter 7 includes a reference to ‘teshnology’ and Leela’s introduction, The Face of Evil, which also provides her description. The chapter includes new scenes showing some of the aliens from the Rani’s menagerie returned to their proper times, along with suitably nasty resolutions. Just this once, everyone dies! And finally, the presence of K9 at the end is explained away. Almost.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this daft bit of fun. I’ve never monetised this blog or added adverts, but I’d really appreciate it if you could donate to BBC Children in Need, the charity appeal that first gave us Dimensions in Time.

… and as a thankyou to you faithful readers, here’s a PDF version of the novella for you to download, which should work in most e-Book readers (please note, if you don’t have PDF software on your device, this may trigger an additional download).

Goodbye, my dears…

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