Chapter 15. Doctor Who and the Green Death (1975)

Synopsis: Deep beneath the hills of a Welsh town, pollutants from a chemical factory have caused the deaths of local miners. Worse, the chemicals have transformed maggots into deadly monsters. Fighting the chemical company is an idealistic young professor, who’s unimpressed by a clumsy fool of a girl from UNIT who wants to join his cause. Meanwhile, the Doctor finally lands the TARDIS on Metebelis Three…

Chapter Titles

  • 1. ‘Wealth in our time!’
  • 2. The Doctor Plans a Holiday
  • 3. Land of My Fathers
  • 4. Into the Mine
  • 5. Escape!
  • 6. The Sluice Pipe
  • 7. The Egg
  • 8. The Maggots
  • 9. The Swarm
  • 10. The Green Death
  • 11. The Chrysalis
  • 12. One World, One People, One BOSS!

Background: Malcolm Hulke adapts scripts from the 1974 serial by Robert Sloman and (uncredited) Barry Letts. 

Notes: The Global Chemicals of the TV show is now Panorama Chemicals. Elgin gets a first name (Mark) and a job title (public relations), and he doesn’t disappear as in the TV version, so his TV replacement, Mr James, doesn’t appear. Hulke has a lot of fun with Metebelis Three, constructing a bit of a legend around it involving a lone Time Lord and then giving us an insane escapade involving unicorns and giant eagles. The Doctor keeps the Professor’s gang amused with stories of his journey to Metebelis Three, rather than that wonderfully incomprehensible nonsense about the perigosto stick from the telly. Jo speculates why the Doctor never married, or even if there are Lady Time Lords, while stating on the very last page that the Doctor is 725 years old. In the TV story, the actual term ‘Green Death’ is never mentioned; in the book it appears in descriptions and dialogue eleven times.

Cover & Illustrations: The first edition cover, by Peter Brookes, shows a giant green fly raining acid down onto the Doctor and Bessie while in inset, Jo recoils from a huge maggot. On the back cover, there’s another two-panel illustration, depicting Ted Hughes discovering the deadly green goo in the mine. There’s a similar illustration of that scene inside, one of six by Alan Willow, the best of which shows the Doctor and Jo in a mine-cart surrounded by maggots. I had Alun Hood’s 1979 reprint cover, which has a beautiful dragonfly stretching its wings across the bleak murky landscape of the mine, surrounded by maggots. This is the final Target book to have illustrations.

Final Analysis: The opening chapter explains why the coal mines are being closed (and how the miners feel about this), how Elgin views the locals (being university educated, he considers himself superior to them) and what Stevens thinks of everyone else. And Professor Jones and Dai Evans discuss the forces of production in relation to the mining industry and the people of Llanfairfach – before they’re interrupted by the first tragic event. Even in the climax, the Doctor worries about whether any of BOSS’s ‘slaves or semi-slaves died’ in the aftermath. It’s not too heavy-handed, but it leaves us no uncertainty as to where Hulke’s politics might lean.

How strange that Jo Grant’s final story follows her first in publication order. And is followed by the Third Doctor’s last.

Chapter 14. Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons (1975)

Synopsis: A renegade Time Lord calling himself ‘The Master’ has followed the Doctor to Earth and as an introductory calling card he’s brought the Autons with him. The Doctor has even more trouble on his hands with a new assistant forced upon him by the Brigadier, the very keen and very newly qualified agent Jo Grant.

Chapter Titles

  • 1. The Terror Begins
  • 2. Sabotage at the Space Probe
  • 3. The Master Takes Over
  • 4..Death at the Plastics Factory
  • 5. The Killer Doll
  • 6. In the Hands of the Autons
  • 7. The Battle of the Forest
  • 8. The Killer Doll Attacks
  • 9. The Deadly Daffodils
  • 10. Prisoners of the Master
  • 11. The Final Assault
  • 12. The End of Round One

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts Robert Holmes’ 1971 scripts.

Notes: Our introduction to Luigi Rossini (real name here is ‘Lew Ross’) presents a much more consciously obnoxious figure, employing labour of a mainly criminal type as they’re cheap and won’t risk complaining. This includes Tony the Strongman, who’s wanted by the police. Rossini manages to persuade his crew that the Doctor and Jo blew up Phillips as they were trying to steal the mob’s wages. The Auton meteorite device glows green as in The Auton Invasion, while the Master says that the plastic chair that kills McDermott is made of ‘polynestine’. The Doctor recognises the visiting Time Lord as being a member of the High Council who exiled the Doctor to Earth.

The Doctor recognises the device that the Master leaves in the cabin of the radio telescope is a ‘Volataliser’, a product of ‘The Xanthoids [who] use them for mining operations’, while the one that Jo tries to detonate in the UNIT lab is ‘a Saturnian Solar Bomb’. One of the best / nastiest additions is the revelation that the Master uses Professor Phillips to help him operate controls within his Tardis, but when he’s not on duty, he is both disguised as – and forced to work as – an actual clown, because it amuses the Master to ‘degrade a brilliant scientist into a mindless buffoon’. There’s a gap of a few days between Mr Farrel’s death and the Doctor’s visit to his wife, and the distribution of the daffodils spans a few more days too. Brownrose from the Ministry is completely removed and I didn’t even notice until just now. And of course, as the cover reveals, the description of the Nestene’s arrival is much more impressive than on TV.

Considering the Master’s crimes, the Doctor provides an insight into their race:

Once captured by the Time Lords, the Master’s life-stream would be thrown into reverse. Not only would he no longer exist, he would never have existed. It was the severest punishment in the Time Lords’ power.

The text refers to the ‘chameleon mechanism’ and ‘chameleon circuits’ for the first time in print (and ‘chameleon circuit’ won’t be said on screen until Logopolis!). There’s also a reference to a ‘Sontaran fragmentation grenade’ (the story came before their first appearance, but the novelisation was published a year after The Time Warrior aired). The Doctor makes good use of his sonic screwdriver, dismantling a bomb, opening the Auton-containing safe and trying to break into the Master’s Tardis. We’re party to the Master’s thought processes as he weighs up his options in turning against the Nestene, swayed by the Doctor’s persuasive argument – and the Brigadier’s pistol.

Cover & Illustrations: Peter Brookes’ original cover depicts a scene that doesn’t actually happen on TV as the one-eyed crabtopus Nestene creature envelops the radio telescope and, inset, the Doctor makes a surprise entrance as the Master plays with a lever. The back cover again features an illustration, Captain Yates inspects a fallen auton carnival dummy while another soldier in silhouette takes on a horde of autons. The 1979 reprint boasts a cover by Alun Hood, again depicting the imagined Nestene but in a more photorealistic style more akin to a Pan horror book; this was the edition I first owned and I was convinced this was a photo of the prop they used (what a disappointment the TV version turned out to be!). Alan Willow provides six illustrations, all of which expand upon what we saw on TV. It’s hard to pick a favourite although I love the one of the radiotelescope technician working away as ‘A dark shape peered down at him’ – the Master, snooping through a skylight, is much more dramatic than him just stepping through a door. 

Final Analysis: Another good job by Dicks here, covering a lot of ground and adding nuance where appropriate. Jo’s previous ‘debut’ in The Doomsday Weapon is glossed over, but there’s some decent continuity between this and The Auton Invasion, including the Brigadier asking why they can’t just do what they did last time and the Doctor points out all the flaws in his previous attack plan.

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. An illustration by Bill Donohoe solely for a 1981 hardback edition uses photo references from The Monster of Peladon for another Ice Warrior, Alpha and Aggedor group shot. 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 10. Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen (1974)

Synopsis: Landing the Tardis in Tibet near the Det-sen monastery, the Doctor decides to return a holy relic, which he took receipt of three hundred years before. He’s quickly accused of murder by a zealous explorer called Travers, who’s hunting the legendary Yeti. But the Yeti that are roaming these hills are the real killers – and they’re robots controlled by someone within the monastery. 

Chapter Titles

  • 1. The Secret of the Snows
  • 2. The Creature in the Cave
  • 3. Live Bait to Catch a Monster
  • 4. Jamie Traps a Yeti
  • 5. The Secret of the Inner Sanctum
  • 6. A Yeti Comes to Life!
  • 7. A Plan to Conquer Earth
  • 8. Revolt in the Monastery
  • 9. Attack of the Yeti
  • 10. Peril on the Mountain
  • 11. The Final Battle
  • 12. The Abominable Snowman

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts the first Second Doctor novelisation based on the scripts by Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln.

Notes: Terrance Dicks gets his first go at the Second Doctor, who has ‘a gentle, rather comical face, and a shock of untidy black hair’, while Jamie is ‘a brawny youth in highland dress, complete with kilt’ and Victoria is ‘a small, dark girl dressed in the style of Earth’s Victorian age’. There’s also harkbacks to the origin stories for the companions. He tweaks the Yeti here to make them more like the ferocious ones seen in The Web of Fear, with glowing red eyes and a terrifying roar. He also adjusts a few of the character names, in deference to his Buddhist producer on the TV show, Barry Letts, to avoid using the names of real historical figures, and he expands the backstory of Travers: His nemesis is a Professor Walters); and Travers’ fated friend who’s killed early on (called simply ‘John’ onscreen) is here identified as his best / only friend, known as ‘Mackay’.

Cover & Illustrations: Chris Achilleos’s original cover showed a lovely Second Doctor head-shot (taken for The Three Doctors) with a small Jamie and Victoria cowering from a roaring Yeti and the Earth creating a lovely circular frame in the background. I had the 1983 edition with a roaring Yeti in the moonlight up a mountain and both covers used the same photo reference. The illustrations are again by Allan Willow and the standout one is where Jamie and Thomni smash the glowing spheres in the control room; there’s a lovely depth to it with the Doctor and Victoria just visible through the doorway. And that’s the only (tiny) illustration of the Doctor in the entire book.

Final Analysis: This is much more fun than the TV series. It’s largely helped by Dicks choosing to make the Yeti more like they were in the sequel, so they roar and claw and attack, rather than amble about and wiggle a bit. Padmasambvha is a less terrifying creation than on TV, we never forget that he is still a human struggling against the possession of the Great Intelligence, described here as having been ‘exiled’ from ‘another dimension’ (so who kicked him out?!). His final end is rather heartbreaking.

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.