Chapter 35. Doctor Who and the Mutants (1977)

Synopsis: When the Doctor receives a mysterious object, it leads him and Jo to the planet Solos, a colony in Earth’s future empire ruled by a cruel and sadistic Marshal. The native Solonians are fighting for their rights to independence while also battling something far more puzzling – some of them are transforming into hideous insect-like creatures…

Chapter Titles

  • 1. The Hunters
  • 2. Mutant on the Loose!
  • 3. Assassination!
  • 4. Hunted on Solos
  • 5. The Experiment
  • 6. Escape
  • 7. The Attack
  • 8. The Trap
  • 9. The Fugitive
  • 10. The Crystal
  • 11. Condemned
  • 12. The Message
  • 13. The Investigator
  • 14. The Witness
  • 15. The Change

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts scripts from a 1972 story by Bob Baker and Dave Martin.

Notes: Solos is a ‘planet of jungles’, but still looks grey from orbit due to the mists. Varan’s son is called ‘Vorn’. Dicks writes that the Doctor was exiled by the Time Lords ‘for some unknown offence’; obviously Dicks himself knows why – he co-wrote the story that saw the Doctor exiled (and so do we), but Jo actually doesn’t – the closest she gets is in The Doomsday Weapon, where the Doctor explained that he used to roam the universe before the Time Lords caught him and trapped him on Earth – but he never explains to her precisely why!

Professor Jaeger is ‘a vain and unprincipled man, desperate for scientific recognition, but without the talent to attain it on his own’; he’s disgraced back on Earth after some scandal involving results stolen from a junior colleague. The Marshal, meanwhile, came to Solos as a security guard and slowly climbed his way up the ranks to his current position; he sees himself as the supreme power over Solos, which is why he is so desperate not to lose his position. Standing at the mouth of the caves, the Marshal uses a device with a ‘directional microphone’ to overhear Stubbs and Cotton talking to the Doctor to uncover their treachery. The Marshal has a secret exit behind the desk in his office, which Cotton knows about.

Cover: Jeff Cummins makes his first appearance with a splendid photorealistic cover. A mutant leers into frame just as the TARDIS materialises in a red-lit cavern. As with Doctor Who and the Space War, the title page in early editions of this book claimed that the front cover showed ‘the third DOCTOR WHO, whose physical appearance was altered by the Time Lords when they banished him to the planet Earth in the Twentieth Century’. Er…

Final Analysis: Despite being a huge fan of the Third Doctor, this has always been my least favourite of his stories, largely because the Marshal is such a relentless bully. He’s still that here, but it’s at least useful to get the perspective of every character working around him. Even Jaeger, who is enabling his ‘scorched Solos’ policy, is doing so for scientific glory, not for anything that might benefit the marshal politically. Dicks manages to edit down the six episodes in a tidy fashion, so even though some speeches are summarised or cut back, all the beats are there in the right order.

Chapter 11. Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (1975)

Synopsis: Alien delegates assemble on the eve of the planet Peladon’s acceptance into a galactic federation. King Peladon balances the superstition of his people and the promises of advancement, but his High Priest, Hepesh, wishes to preserve the Old Ways. The old priest plots to sabotage the King’s ambitions with help from an alien with selfish plans of their own. As the Doctor becomes entwined in the political future of this primitive planet, King Peladon of Peladon makes a proposal to Jo – an allegiance bonded in marriage…

Chapter Titles

  • 1. The Deadly Guardian
  • 2. Into the Chasm
  • 3. An Enemy from the Past
  • 4. The Doctor Must Die
  • 5. The Attack on Arcturus
  • 6. The Temple of Aggedor
  • 7. Escape to Danger
  • 8. Trial by Combat
  • 9. A Conspiracy of Terror
  • 10. The Battle for the Palace
  • 11. The King’s Avenger

Background: Bryan Hayles adapts his own 1972 scripts. 

Notes: King Peladon’s mother is named (Ellua) and she may have had a passing resemblance to Jo. Alpha Centauri changes colour, like a cuttlefish, to reflect moods. There are a few extra scenes, such as a chat between the Doctor and Ssorg, and another between Jo and Grun, just before the duel. Peladon saves Jo’s life by making sure Jo is not overheard by Hepesh when she criticises him about the Doctor’s trial (Hepesh would certainly call for Jo’s death too) and later, before a statue of Aggedor, Peladon vows to rid his land of all iconography of the beast if the Doctor is killed in the duel.The Doctor is specific about his encounters with the Ice Warriors, telling Jo he’s ‘met them twice so far’.

Cover & Illustrations: The first cover was again by Chris Achileos, a nice montage of the Doctor, Alpha, Aggedor (with smoking nostrils) and Ssorg. Alister Pearson’s 1992 reprint cover shows the Doctor in weirdly beautiful blue-red lighting, the citadel, Arcturus, Ssorg and Aggedor. Alan Willow provides internal illustration again and it’s taken me way too long to realise that he wouldn’t have had access to the tapes, only of selected publicity photos, which is why the likenesses of the guest cast are often so unlike their TV counterparts (here, King Peladon looks suspiciously like Christopher Lee!). His Aggedor is more monstrous and huge than on screen and the arena for the duel between the Doctor and Grun looks like a traditional medieval pageant.

Final Analysis: Bryan Hayles’ first novelisation and the ‘Escape to Danger’ chapter title from The Daleks makes its first appearance in a Target original (though we’ve been close a few times). This is largely a straightforward summary of the TV episode with just a few deviations and elaborations (noted above), but what he does change is for the benefit of the characters, in particular the Martians and Alpha Centauri.

Chapter 9. Doctor Who and the Sea-Devils (1974)

Synopsis: The Master has been tried and imprisoned with a ‘life-long’ sentence (commuted from a death sentence by the Doctor’s plea for mercy). When the Doctor and Jo visit him in his high-security home, they are only briefly reassured that he’s secure before he escapes and sets into motion a plan to resurrect more of the homo reptilia race – this time from beneath the sea.

Chapter Titles

  • 1. ‘Abandon Ship!’
  • 2. Visitors for the Master
  • 3. The Vanished Ships
  • 4. Stranded!
  • 5. Air-Sea Rescue
  • 6. ‘This Man Came to Kill Me!’
  • 7. Captain Hart Becomes Suspicious
  • 8. The Submarine
  • 9. Visitors for Governor Trenchard
  • 10. The Diving Bell
  • 11. ‘Depth Charges Away!’
  • 12. Attack in Force
  • 13. Escape

Background: Malcolm Hulke adapts his scripts from the 1972 serial (the smallest gap so far between story transmission and novelisation, at two years, six months and two weeks).

Notes: It’s a little less even-handed this time as Hulke plays the Sea-Devils (not ‘Sea Devils’) as the aggressors from the start (and what a great opening scene as the crew of the ss Pevensey Castle abandon ship and are pulled under water one by one). Hulke also doesn’t give names to any of the Sea-Devils. There’s some background from the Master’s trial, where the Doctor begged for his best enemy’s life; although the death penalty was repealed for murder in the UK (except Northern Ireland) in 1965, it was still available for treason until 1998.

Governor George Trenchard’s backstory is elaborated upon to be both comical and rather tragic. Th Doctor and Jo’s walk up to the chateau is given extra detail with the engraved wall-tap and the mysterious poem that reveals ancient local legends and somehow inspires the Doctor to deduce a pun on ‘the scales of justice’. The Master reveals that he’s worked with the Ogrons before (not in the TV version, but this was written soon after Frontier in Space, so would be fresh in the mind of the author and his audience). And the lead character is referred to as ‘Doctor Who’ twice.

Cover & Illustrations: The first cover by Chris Achilleos (a yellow maelstrom with the Doctor, Jo, two Sea Devils and a submarine). The first cover I owned was the 1979 John Geary reprint with the green and yellow Sea Devils and a bluey-pink background. The illustrations are once again by Alan Willow and my favourite is either the Doctor ducking as a Sea-Devil fires a heat ray or a Sea-Devil watching the submarine on TV.

Final Analysis: Another corker from Hulke. Even though the Sea-Devils are more overtly villainous than their cave cousins, they repeat their claim on the planet and at least appear to waver before going on the assault (stirred up by the Master). There’s the oft-quoted business about Trenchard wanting to be brave and being killed by Sea-Devils because he left the catch on his gun, and the Doctor switching it off before Captain Hart notices, but this is only one of many moments of charm for the characters – in fact if anything, it’s Jo who comes across worst, brash and impatient and occasionally compelled to back down when she gets too hot-headed.

Chapter 8. Doctor Who and the Daemons (1974)

Synopsis: The Master’s up to no good in an English village, posing as both a vicar and the leader of a satanic cult. The Doctor and Jo appear on TV and they take on the Master, a gargoyle and an ancient god – with the help of UNIT and a self-proclaimed white witch.

Chapter Titles

  • Prologue
  • 1. The White Witch
  • 2. The New Vicar
  • 3. The Opening of the Barrow
  • 4. The Appearance of the Beast
  • 5. The Heat Barrier
  • 6. Meetings
  • 7. Explanations
  • 8. The Second Appearance
  • 9. Into Danger
  • 10. The Third Appearance
  • 11. The Rescue
  • 12. Into the Cavern
  • 13. The Sacrifice
  • Epilogue

Background: Barry Letts adapts the 1971 scripts he co-wrote with Robert Sloman as ‘Guy Leopold’.

Notes: An early manifestation of Azal is much more dramatic, involving the death of the verger. Benton recalls earlier adventures with the cybermen, Axons and the daffodil-touting autons, none of which have been novelised by this point, while Jo recalls her first meeting with the Master as seen on TV but which flatly contradicts the books so far. We also get the first revelation that the Doctor and the Master were schoolfriends – and that the Doctor wasn’t a particularly keen student. The character of Stan Wilkins is new to the book, on TV he’s just a nameless acolyte in the coven who recognises that the Master is evil and tries to save Jo and the Doctor. His courage serves to make Jo’s attempted self-sacrifice all the braver.

Cover & Illustrations:  The original cover was by Chris Achilleos following the now-familiar formula of the Doctor’s face with a head-shot of Azal and a teeny Bok. Internal illustrations are by Alan Willow. There’s a lovely drawing of Jo back against an ivy-covered wall (that’s based on a photo from The Sea Devils), but Azal and Bok are both faithfully reproduced. My first cover was the 1980 reprint with a portrait by Andrew Skilleter of Azal in the cavern, while the 1993 reprint used Alister Pearson’s VHS cover, with an almost-Celtic cross that shows the Doctor and Master both in half-portrait, Azal at the top and Bok at the bottom against a sunburn-pink background.

Final Analysis: Barry Letts adapts the scripts well, so it’s surprising this is his only novelisation of a TV story. It enhances what was possible on telly but doesn’t elaborate vastly; the prologue is just everything that happens on TV before the Doctor appears, where Mac Hulke might have given us an insight into Azal’s arrival on Earth. Azal gets a better motivation to implode though – being both confused by Jo’s illogical actions and about to die anyway. And the lead character is referred to as ‘Doctor Who’, right at the start of the first chapter.