Chapter 162. Doctor Who – Rose (2018)

Synopsis: Rose Tyler works in a department store. Exploring the basement one evening after hours, her life changes forever as she meets a man who saves her life by telling her to ‘run!’ He tells her to forget him too, but she begins to investigate and learns that this man has appeared throughout history. He’s called the Doctor – and right now, he’s trying to protect Earth from an alien intelligence with a deadly control of anything plastic…

Chapter Titles

  • Prologue
  • 1. Descent into Terror
  • 2. Enter the Doctor
  • 3. Life at No.143
  • 4. Plastic Attack
  • 5. The Turn of the Earth
  • 6. Life at No.90
  • 7. The Mysteries of Juke Street
  • 8. Shed of Secrets
  • 9. The Pizza Surprise
  • 10. Inside the Box
  • 11 War Stories
  • 12. The Living Statues
  • 13. The Lair of the Beast
  • 14. The Never-Ending War
  • 15. The Army Awakes
  • 16. The Battle of London
  • 17. Rose Says No
  • 18. Death Throes
  • 19. Aftermath
  • 20. The Journey Begins

Background: Russell T Davies adapts his own script from 2005.

Notes: The caretaker (not chief electrician) at Henrik’s Department Store is Bernie Wilson. He’s a short, creepy man who abuses his position to coordinate a mini-crime ring from the basement of the store. In recent years, he’s been running the lottery syndicate and pocketing the money. When a store employee wins the roll-over lottery, Bernie panics and decides to burn down the store to cover his tracks. He is killed by a shop window mannequin. Henrik’s is at ‘the western end of Oxford Street’, backing onto Cavendish Square (so it occupies the exact same space as the John Lewis department store in our world).

Rose Tyler looks back on the events of that day from the beach in another dimension [see Doomsday]. The story takes place between Friday 4th March (‘Chris Rea’s birthday’) and the early hours of Sunday 6th March. She attended Sweeney Street Comprehensive and when she was 16, she dumped her boyfriend Mickey, dropped out of sixth-form college and took up with Jimmy Stone, a flash lad (with a nice car) who turned out to be a disaster. She got back with Mickey and spent six months on the dole before finding work in the female clothing department of Henrik’s, which was a year ago. She remembers meeting a stranger on New Year’s Eve whose face she never saw and who had told her that 2005 was going to be ‘great’ [see The End of Time Part Two]. In the basement, Rose hears the voice of an Irish comedian on a radio somewhere (a beautiful reference to the accidental crashing of Graham Norton over the first TV broadcast of the episode). She thinks the man who rescues her looks like he’s tackling the situation with ‘glee’ and that the bomb he’s holding looks like something from the TV series 24:

He was about 40 years old, tough, hard as nails, she reckoned, lean and fit, with a brutal buzz-cut, dressed in a battered brown leather jacket, tight black clothes and big sturdy boots. And now he turned to face her, his blue eyes glistening with delight, strong cheekbones hollow in the steep fluorescent light, his head bracketed by two splendid ears.

Rose lives at flat 143 on the 14th floor of the ‘Enoch’ Tower on the Powell Estate. The estate was built in 1973 – two towers of 16 floors each with six flats per storey and looming over a selection of shops. ‘Enoch’ is a nickname for one of the towers, as residents wrongly assumed the estate was named after the Conservative MP Enoch Powell; in reality its name comes from the mother-in-law of the developer, who died in tragic circumstances.

Rose’s mum is introduced as ‘a little blonde missile’ in ‘double- denim’:

Jackie Tyler, 5 foot nothing, age not relevant, karaoke champion of the Spinning Wheel, life and soul of the party but a monumental lightning storm when angry, now sobbing and laughing and then, somehow, finding a reason to give Rose a punch on the arm.

On inspecting himself in the mirror, the Doctor is disappointed not to be ginger. Jackie walks in on her daughter straddling the Doctor and holding the (now inert and cracked) mannequin arm; misunderstanding the scene, she calls Rose a ‘tart’. When the Doctor leaves her for the second time, Rose hears a ‘grinding, heaving, aching sound, like some sort of ancient engine lurching into life’.

Mickey is three years older than Rose. His mother, Odessa, took her own life when he was five. His father, Jackson Moseley Smith, was an engineer and part-time singer who went away to sea, leaving Mickey with his Gran, Rita-Ann – and Jackson never returned. Once Mickey turned 18, his Gran arranged for him to rent a flat back on the Powell Estate; she died a few months after Mickey left [as explained in Age of Steel]. Though Mickey’s parents and Gran are now dead, Rose later remembers there’s still an uncle Cliff on the scene. Mickey now lives at flat 90 in the Powell Tower. His one-bedroom flat is a meeting place for his gang – Mook, Patrice and Sally – who have all taken turns sleeping in the living room. They are trying to form a band and are in the process of choosing a name when Sally suggests ‘Bad Wolf’. Later, Sally recalls that the phrase ‘Bad Wolf’ appears in the Jordan Street car park, the graffiti tag of some gang or other.

Clive Finch is an estate agent living on Juke Street, Stoke Newington, North London. He is married to Caroline and they have two sons, Michael and Ben. His website shows photos of people he identifies as ‘the Doctor’, including the one Rose has met and a ‘curly-haired man in a long scarf’. In Clive’s shed, Rose sees his files on UNIT and what she thinks says  ‘Touchwood’. Clive describes the Doctor as ‘he – or she’. There’s ‘an old man with white hair and a black cape’ standing in the street in front of a War Machine; ‘a little man with a Beatles mop of hair’ outside an antiques shop [possibly from Evil of the Daleks]; ‘a man with a fabulous grey bouffant standing next to a small silver hovercraft’; ‘that man in the long scarf again’, dwarfed by an unconvincing monster emerging out of the Thames [see Terror of the Zygons]; ‘a rather hot blond man at Heathrow Airport’ [Time-Flight]; ‘a curly-haired man clearly on his way to a fancy-dress party dressed as a picnic’; a photo from World War II of ‘a short man with an umbrella’ running with some soldiers [The Curse of Fenric perhaps]; ‘a dashing, Byronic man’ at the opening of an atomic clock [the TV Movie]; from a box-file labelled ’09’ comes an old photo of ‘her’ Doctor, shown wrestling with a pterodactyl and visible bruising that she saw him receive only that morning from the plastic hand; a man with two suits, ‘brown and blue’; ‘a man with a fantastic jaw, dressed in a tweed jacket and bow tie’; ‘an older, angry man in a brown caretaker’s coat, holding a mop’ [The Caretaker]; ‘a blonde woman in braces running away from a giant frog in front of Buckingham Palace’ [an unseen adventure]; as well as ‘a tall, bald black woman wielding a flaming sword’ and ‘a young girl or boy in a hi-tech wheelchair with what looked like a robot dog at their side’.

Clive has no idea what the ‘blue box’ is, though it appears in many photos. His father – Second Lieutenant Gary Jonathan Finch – was a soldier who died while on manoeuvres ‘in Shoreditch’ [see Remembrance of the Daleks]. One of Clive’s most treasured photos shows a small tank-like machine, ‘a one-man vessel made of white and gold metal, its lower half studded with balls, odd prongs sticking out of its body’ – which Clive believes was responsible for his father’s death. Rose notices one photo of a ‘giant big tentacled thing’ wrapped around Westminster Abbey [probably a reference to the pioneering 1950s sci-fi drama TV The Quatermass Experiment, which you can’t see as it was never telerecorded, or The Quatermass Xperiment, the movie adaptation of the TV serial], while Clive mentions a theory about ‘a crack in time’ [see The Eleventh Hour and many more]. Desperate to meet the Doctor himself, Clive bursts into tears as Rose leaves.

Rose deliberately doesn’t tell Mickey about the Doctor because she wants something exciting of her own, so she tells him Clive is helping her with an insurance claim. At the restaurant, Fake-Mickey’s eye pops out of his face and into his soup; Rose realises he’s made of plastic just as the replica demands she tells it everything about the Doctor and threatens to kill the other diners. The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver once on fake-Mickey’s head, but claims he can’t use it again because the plastic has ‘recalibrated’. The head accuses ‘you lot’ of bringing ‘a war crashing down on our civilisation’ before falling inert. 

We see the inside of the TARDIS for the first time, through Rose’s eyes:

She was standing on a metal ramp surrounded by curved walls arching upwards, studded with hexagons. What she’d thought was a dome was more of a sphere; she could look down, through the metal mesh at her feet, to see the curve completing far below in one vast circle. The whole interior was weathered, rusting, bruised, and yet humming with life, as though huge engines were brooding somewhere beyond the walls. The skin of the sphere was supported by weird buttresses, shaped like … coral? Yes, she could smell ozone, like the seaside, though this was a coral glowing with internal light.

The central console is ‘a coral mushroom out of which a glass pillar containing tubes of light soared up to the roof and down into the depths, like a linchpin holding the entire globe together’. 

Rose notices that the cut on the Doctor’s cheek from her mother’s table has healed since this morning, only for the Doctor to tell her that, for him, that was weeks ago. He briefly explains the ‘war’ between his people and ‘another kind’, a ‘filthy stinking war that changed reality itself, corrupting everything it touched. Ripping life inside out and making it obscene’. The Nestene Consciousness was once flesh and blood with an ‘affinity with plastic’, but the war rewrote its DNA, turning it into ‘an actual living plastic creature’. Rose compares the Doctor to the famous environmental protestor ‘Swampie’, who the Doctor claims to have met. He also identifies the Nestene Consciousness’s foot-soldiers as ‘Autons’ (on telly, they’re only named in the end credits). Some of the ‘living statue’ entertainers on the South Bank of the Thames are revealed to be Autons: One is dressed as a tramp holding a plastic daffodil [see Terror of the Autons]; another takes the form of a ballerina; and a third is a knight in a suit of armour. The Doctor realises the Auton trio has been steering them towards the Nestene lair, a chamber that the creature has clearly chewed its way into from beneath. A second Mickey duplicate tricks Rose into revealing the existence of the anti-plastic. Rose slowly becomes able to understand some of the Nestene Consciousness’s words, such as ‘Time… Lord’ and ‘Doc…tor’.. 

The shop-window Autons in the ‘Battle of London’ include a plastic dog and a boy made out of small plastic bricks, as well as display models from Soho’s adult shops, dressed in leather harnesses and speedos. Some of the Autons turn their hands into blades and hack their way through the crowd, while others morph their hands into gun barrels. Clive recalls stories of ‘monsters from Loch Ness, and wizards in Cornwall, and robots in the North Pole’ [neatly looping in Terror of the Zygons, The Tenth Planet and Russell’s CBBC TV show, Wizards Vs Aliens] before he pushes his family to safety and is killed. 

Rudi Henrik, heir to the Henrik family fortune, comes to inspect the damage to the Henrik’s store, accompanied by his wife and his boyfriend; all three are killed in the Auton massacre. A ‘posh boy’ is knocked over by one of the Auton Living Statues and he and his family are later caught in the Millennium Wheel when it tips over. Rose’s dodgy ex Jimmy Stone has recently moved in with a Ghanaian student, not for love but for her money; he decides to leave her, after stealing some of her valuables, and is hacked to pieces in the street by a gang of Autons. In Chiswick, Donna Noble has been nursing a hangover all day. Put to bed by her grandfather, she sleeps through the whole thing.

Cover: Anthony Dry’s cover shows the Doctor pointing his sonic screwdriver (its first ever appearance on a Target cover!) along with Rose and a pair of Autons.

Final Analysis: This is a perfect example of what a Target book should always be – telling the story we loved on TV, adding insights into the lives of the supporting characters that might not be possible to reveal within a TV schedule timeslot, add a few extra characters and background detail and throw in a couple of scenes too ambitious for even a generous TV budget. Russell is confident enough in the character of Rose to allow her to be selfish, demanding and aware of her own faults, because she’s also determined, brave and compassionate. All of these things made her such a strong, fully rounded woman on TV but here we get to understand more of who she was before we met her. 

This is only Russell’s third novel (he wrote Damaged Goods for the Virgin New Adventures and adapted his first CBBC serial, Dark Season, for BBC Books) and as we’d expect, he brings a more adult approach than we might have seen before in a Target adaptation – even though it’s entirely family friendly. So there are characters who are gay, one in transition, and even just the acknowledgement that people might be sexual beings feels like a brave new world. Jackie Tyler may have photos of her late husband and find herself still mourning him, but she still has ‘understandings’ with various friends around the estate. She’s grown up with nothing and isn’t afraid to take what she feels is owed to her, whether it’s a favour from Rodrigo or a premature spending spree in anticipation of her share of Rose’s compensation. There are a few mild swear words, a couple of uses of ‘bloody’, a ‘sod that’, plus something that wasn’t an issue for British viewers on transmission of the TV episode, but turned out to be controversial elsewhere. The phrase ‘leave the domestics outside’ is retained here. It’s a term commonly used by the police in the UK, meaning ‘domestic abuse’ – threatening or violent behaviour between partners or family members. Unfortunately, some North American viewers incorrectly interpreted this as ‘domestic servant’, suggesting a racially insensitive description of Mickey. This led to a few heated and (for British fans) rather baffling conversations at conventions in the year after Rose was first broadcast. 

I’ve cheated slightly in how I’ve ordered these final chapters as, officially, Rose entered the Target library before The Pirate Planet, the TV Movie, the two Saward Dalek stories and the two Fisher rewrites – but this is the right way to end. At the time of writing, Russell T Davies has not indicated that he’ll be writing any more Targets, happy to leave those adaptations to other writers. It’s a shame, because I’d love to see him tackle some more. But if you’re going to write just one Target book, let it be this one. Marvellous!

Thank you for following this quest to the very end. Although I’m not covering the rest of the 21st century stories, you can find a quick guide to them in this chapter. As a reward / punishment for sticking with me this far, come back on 17th November, when I’ll be releasing something new, one chapter a day, leading up to Doctor Who’s birthday.

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 4. Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion (1974)

Synopsis: An alien intelligence lands on Earth and begins to establish a bridgehead for an invasion by creating an army of plastic dummies. The Doctor arrives in a new body, disoriented and without the ability to operate his TARDIS – but finds a job with the Brig’s UNIT (and usurps Liz Shaw as UNIT’s scientific adviser in the process).

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Prologue: Exiled to Earth
  • 2. The Mystery of the Meteorites
  • 3. The Man from Space
  • 4. The Faceless Kidnappers
  • 5. The Hunting Auton
  • 6. The Doctor Disappears
  • 7. The Horror in the Factory
  • 8. The Auton Attacks
  • 9. The Creatures in the Waxworks
  • 10. The Final Battle

Background: The first book written for Target and the first by Terrance Dicks, adapting Robert Holmes’ scripts for Spearhead from Space (1970). The book also introduces the Third Doctor (after a prologue recounting the final minutes of the second Doctor’s trial in The War Games), along with Liz Shaw – and reintroduces Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart as a regular (even down to having him appear on the cover!).

Notes: It’s Terrance Dicks’ first novel and straight off, he describes the materialisation noise of the TARDIS (which is now in full caps and no italics!) as ‘wheezing and groaning’, a description we’ll see again. The Brigadier is given the first name ‘Alastair’ (a detail not revealed on TV until Planet of the Spiders but it appeared in print in Piccolo’s 1972 edition of The Making of Doctor Who). A few characters gain a little extra detail (Dr Henderson and his colleague at the hospital are fierce rivals, Captain Munro is called Jimmy, Seeley and his wife play a bigger part) and a few details are changed (the Auton devices are green, not pink, Channing accompanies the facsimile to kidnap General Scobie). Channing acquires a repeated description of possessing ‘handsome, regular features’ (which is better than ‘a middle-aged man with an ill-fitting wig and one huge hair poking out of his left ear’, I suppose). We’re told by Captain Munro that Corporal Forbes is an expert driver, so it’s right that he survives the car crash – but is then chopped down and flung brutally into a ditch by the Auton. There’s also a lovely flashback as Hibbert recalls how he first found the glowing green sphere and felt it possess him and build the machine that created Channing.The biggest change is the final depiction of the Nestene, which improves upon the original’s wriggling rubber tentacles somewhat:

‘A huge, many tentacled monster something between spider, crab and octopus. The nutrient fluids from the tank were still streaming down its sides. At the front of its glistening body a single huge eye glared at them, blazing with alien intelligence and hatred.’

The Doctor considers ‘reversing the polarity of the neutron flow in the dematerialisation circuit’ – two phrases that we’ll see a lot of in the future, but that ‘neutron flow’ term popped up a lot less often on TV than we might think.

Cover & Illustrations: The first Target edition had a cover and illustrations by Chris Achilleos. The cover shows the Doctor and the Brigadier with a green octopus, but the final illustration has a go at capturing that lurid description of the Nestene creature. My first edition of this was the 1982 Andrew Skilleter cover with a colourful cuttlefish, while Alister Pearson’s 1991 reprint cover is a vision in pink, with the Doctor and an auton mannequin amid a meteor shower.

Final Analysis: Terrance hits the ground running with the efficiency he’ll become famous for. Episode one spans four chapters, but the rest are covered in two chapters each. It’s all the more impressiove considering this is Dicks’ first book ever and he takes the opportunity to tweak a few things here and there, solving problems from the broadcast episodes, such as making Hibbert explain that the shop window dummies they make are called Autons, after his company, Auto Plastics (as opposed to the Doctor somehow just knowing what they’re called in a later scene in the TV version). It’s a great start to this new range.