Chapter 161. Doctor Who – Revelation of the Daleks (2021)

Synopsis: Tranquil Repose offers a full care package for the nearly departed, where the terminally ill can be put on ice until a possible cure for their ailment is found. It’s one of a number of companies founded by a figure called The Great Healer, whose financial interests require careful accounting. Which is why his business partner, Kara, has hired an assassin to terminate him. Meanwhile, a determined daughter has broken into the Great Healer’s complex in search of her missing father – to whom the Doctor and Peri have come to pay their respects…

Chapter Titles

Numbered One to Nine.

Background: Reprinting the text of the hardback from 2019, Eric Saward adapts his scripts from the 1985 serial, completing the stories for Season 22, the Sixth Doctor and the entire Target books range for the 20th-century series.

Notes: A scene inside the TARDIS shows Peri exploring the ‘cathedral-like’ wardrobe while the Doctor, newly convered to vegetarianism [see The Two Doctors], makes nut roast. The Doctor’s regeneration is still ‘recent’ and he’s decided to adopt a new ‘belt and braces’ approach – literally putting on a new belt and braces to reflect his sudden determination to be more cautious. Peri apparently has a ‘New York’ accent. The TARDIS lands with a ‘muffled scraping sound, not unlike a scrapyard being turned over by a massive earthmover’. 

Necros is about the size of Mars but with an atmosphere like that of Earth. It has three moons and its ocean waters are not salty. Speelsnapes are native to Necros and they have a habit of hiding their heads under rocks in the belief they cannot be seen. It leaves them vulnerable to voltrox, creatures like large domestic Earth cats with the ability to fly [see Slipback for more on the lifecycle of the speelsnape].

Tranquil Repose – or ‘TR’ – has existed in some form or other for at least a thousand years. Its lower catacombs have been redesigned and built over many times, its architecture reflecting many different styles practiced across the ‘Twelve Galaxies’. The current complex on the surface was erected soon after the arrival of The Great Healer. The gates to Tranquil Repose are fashioned from Eradian steel. The planet’s other great industry is a food production plant called ‘Kara’s Kitchen’, owned by Kara Seddle, a 40-year-old businesswoman. She’s fond of eating chocolate-covered locusts while bathing in Lindosian’s milk. Like everyone else in the Saward universe, she and Vogel are partial to the alcoholic drink Voxnik.

Joshua Jobel is 51 years old. He was born in the star system Sifton 31, his parents were a ‘purveyor of meats’ and a stage make-up artist. Considering himself a great lover (to a degree that nobody else seems willing to support), he tends to target married women as they offer less risk of commitment. His newly qualified assistant is Tasembeker Brown. Head of security Lancelot Takis was a sergeant in the Peninsula Wars on plant JJ33, where he met August Lilt, then a corporal. Lilt was born on Earth in Ealing, London, in ‘the Democracy of England’. Stowing away on a space freighter, he served five years in the Tinclavic mines of Raaga [see The Visitation and The Awakening] for ‘minor larceny’. He’s a keen ornithologist. During the war, Takis and Lilt used to entertain the troops with impressions of Laurel and Hardy. One of the other living inhabitants of TR is a cat called Lord Plunkett.

The DJ’s name is Derek Johnson. He became a disc jockey while studying at the Lowwrie Institute of Technology in ‘the star system Sygma 18’ and by the age of 19, he was playing all the clubs in the Third Zone [see The Two Doctors on TV for a little more on the Third Zone]. He was later kidnapped by pirates and, because they didn’t like his musical tastes, they abandoned him on a small planetoid in the Delta JJ sector of the Sixth Zone of the galaxy. After a couple of years, he found his way onto a freighter heading for Kara’s Kitchen and thanks to Takis and an unnamed wealthy benefactor, he accepted a permanent residency at TR. The benefactor subsequently died of a heart attack and, now very much aware that the Great Healer is not a fan, the DJ feels that he’s living on borrowed time. Though he adopts various accents from around America, they all have a flavour of Liverpool in them (just like actor Alexei Sayle, who played the role on screen), even though he’s never been to Earth and all of his knowledge comes from old recordings.

The Great Healer’s attendants perform operations on his behalf in the hope of strengthening his body with transplants. Davros’s (decoy) head is suspended in a glass tank filled with clear liquid. The Daleks move around freely in TR, but nobody there knows the true identity of the Great Healer. He arrived at Tranquil Repose after months floating in space on the brink of death (so this story is set a year or two after the future timescale of Resurrection of the Daleks). His new ‘gold sphere’ Daleks are ‘supposedly more intuitive, better skilled at reading emotional situations and equipped with the potential to levitate’. Despite the modifications, they’re still in need of ‘further fine tuning’; Davros begins to accept that his new Daleks are not quite as superior as he had hoped. The Doctor later wryly observes that despite Davros’s extensive work on their intellectual capacity, the new Daleks behave ‘just the same as all his previous models’. They’re also no match for the firepower of the grey Daleks.

Natasha Stengos has a rose tattoo on her arm. Seeing the tattoo reminds Takis of the time he and his wife got matching rose tattoos; they were together for three years and had a young child but his family died in a tragic shuttle crash. His grief propelled him to join up for the army. The Garden of Fond Memories reminds the Doctor of the Roman town of Ephesus, which he once visited two thousand years in the past. Peri greatly enjoys the garden, which the Doctor attributes to ‘negative ions’ combined with the artful architecture and the garden’s natural beauty. Peri doesn’t recognise a Dalek on sight but thinks it looks ‘cute’. While listening to Tasambeker’s sales pitch for TR’s services, the Doctor steals her metal propelling pencil; he later uses this to escape from his chains in the prison cell and gain access to various security sections.

Orcini has a medallion made from Tinclavic and inscribed in Terileptil script. He met Bostock at the Battle of Vavetron. Kara has timed Orcini’s assassination attempt to coincide with President Varga’s arrival for his wife’s funeral; the President has been investigating Kara’s business affairs and she hopes to remove two obstacles at once. The Doctor knew the President’s ‘Principal wife’ Sontana (or ‘Sonnie’)  before they were married. Orcini and Bostock find the corpse of the mutant who attacked the Doctor; Orcini has to dissuade Botsock from stealing a ‘trophy’ of the cadaver’s ear.

Arthur Stengos was reported to have contracted Waugh’s Disease (referencing Evelyn Waugh, author of The Loved Ones, which inspired this) and placed into Tranquil Repose moments before his death; this was a lie concocted by Davros to cover up Stengos’s conversion into a Dalek, with the additional aim of luring the Doctor to Necros. The Doctor and Stengos used to meet at agricultural conventions and Stengos spoke fondly of him to his daughter. 

The corridors in the TR pyramid are constructed from Tinclavic. Inside the pyramid, the Doctor, Natasha and Grigory find a thousand Daleks in storage, awaiting activation. They meet an imprisoned and badly mutated clinical psychiatrist called Alex Sagovski. Sagovski is just one of many experts in their respective fields lured to Necros by the Great Healer’s promises – and then experimented on for the purpose of advancing the new strain of Daleks. While Natasha and Grigory sabotage the electrical systems, the Doctor and Alex break into the hydro-stabilization system of the Pyramid, where the Doctor uses his new belt to pull open a valve as part of the disruption to the pyramid structures. Alex takes up the DJ’s rock ‘n’ roll weapon and defends the studio from Daleks while issuing calls to arms for the new rebellion (he’s said to have a voice like an old-fashioned BBC radio announcer).

By the time Kara reaches Davros’s chamber, her dress is torn and one of her incisors is missing after a ‘consultation’ with Lilt. Natasha and Grigory are cornered by three Daleks. Grigory is killed outright and rather than face conversion into a Dalek, Natasha turns the last charge in her gun on herself. Reactivated too early, some of the Daleks tumble from their storage palettes with explosive and messy results.

The Doctor has a box of matches from the Match Girls’ strike of 1888. He recalls pushing a Dalek out of a warehouse window in 1985 and the explosion it made. He vows to return the Greek statues lining the entrance to Davros’s chamber to ‘his old friend Peracles’. Takis and Lilt await the arrival of the Dalek shuttle on the landing pad outside Tranquil Repose. The Dalek squad is led by Daleks Alpha and Beta [see Resurrection of the Daleks] and they are accompanied by a corp of humanoid troopers. The Doctor sticks his propelling pencil into Davros’s chariot, fusing it and preventing the Daleks’ creator from being able to move by his own volition. The Doctor hopes that Davros might face a trial in the High Courts of Gallifrey (somewhere we’d see in his very next TV adventure, but with someone else in the defendant role), yet he knows that his old enemy will only be tried for crimes against the Supreme Dalek. He offers to shelter the survivors of the tragedy inside the TARDIS with promises of food cooked by his robot chef [see Resurrection of the Daleks]. He agrees to stay around for a while to help tidy up and establish a new weed plant cultivation. As on TV, his next destination remains unresolved.

Cover: Anthony Dry’s composition shows the Doctor, Davros and two cream-and-gold Daleks.

Final Analysis: There’s a certain amount of closure reading the final novelisation of a 20th-century story that features a glass Dalek, just as the very first one did 57 years earlier. Saward clearly enjoys this adventure much more than his previous novel. He even makes amends for the production difficulties that forced him to sideline the Doctor back in 1985, by adding a new sub-plot that gives the Doctor something more heroic and action-packed than we saw on telly. A welcome shift in Saward’s writing comes in the way he introduces his usual random elements – the type of metal used to build the complex or the Doctor’s adoption of new braces – but then dovetails them into the plot to make their presence more than just decorative.

Like Tegan in the last novel, Peri is distressed by the sheer scale of death and destruction around her, but she’s not yet been overwhelmed by it all, remaining determined and optimistic. We also have a new character, Alex the mutant, who becomes a temporary companion to the Doctor and takes up the DJ’s role to lead a revolution. With so many supporting characters killed off by the end, his survival is unexpected and very welcome.

As in Resurrection of the Daleks, Saward brings a world-weary resignation to the violence, as if it’s merely the route to a rather bleak joke, but his irreverence also means we get to see Davros in a new light; he’s desperate to prove his worth after 90 years in suspended animation and months left abandoned in an escape shuttle, yet his new, ‘improved’ Daleks are a bit of a disappointment – and he knows it. For all his manipulation and betrayal, he’s a bit pathetic. Thanks to the Doctor’s immobilising of Davros’s chariot, the final indignity for the creator of the Daleks is having to be pushed along corridors by his Dalek captors. He rants and raves, but ‘no one was listening’.

I keep getting to a point where it looks like this project has reached its end, only for new stories to be adapted. This is the very last of the original run of TV stories to bear the Target branding, so – mission accomplished! However, tune in next time as we still have two more classic Targets to go. How??

Chapter 160. Doctor Who – Resurrection of the Daleks (2021)

Synopsis: A dilapidated prison in space comes under attack as the Daleks try to recapture the prison’s sole inmate – their creator, Davros. On Earth in 1984, soldiers investigate strange objects found in an old warehouse. The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough are nearby and as they help the army with their search, the Doctor is slowly drawn into a trap…

Chapter Titles

Numbered one to Eleven, plus a Coda.

Background: This is a reprint of Eric Saward’s novel from 2019 with minimal corrections (though to be honest, I’m hard-pushed to spot exactly what), based on his scripts for a serial from 1984. This edition has the smallest type of any Target novel so far.

Notes: The old tramp’s name is Jones. We’re told a little of the history of Shad Thames. Raymond Arthur Stien is a quartermaster sergeant ‘although in charge of distributing the apparatus of war, he himself had always managed to avoid armed confrontation’. Tegan recognises the Cloister Bell – the ‘Campana Magna’. 

The ship is called the Vipod Mor. It used to be a battlecruiser and it fought in the Hexicon Delta Zone Wars, when it was called the Fighting Brigand and captained by Andrew Smyth, known for his ability to drink vast quantities of Voxnik. Then it was sold to ‘the poet, explorer, scientist and lover, Fellion, Vipod Mor’ who, after being caught in a compromising position with his android assistant, was imprisoned in the ship for 97 years. After Fellion’s death, his ship was reclaimed and converted into an actual prison ship [and see the novelisation of Slipback for why this is interesting].

Lieutenant Tyler Mercer has been in space intelligence for eight years and is the youngest head of security in the intergalactic penitentiary service. He’s been in deep-space stasis for two weeks for his journey to the Vipod Mor. The current captain is another one fond of the Voxnik, hence why he’s already drunk when the crisis begins. The ship’s medical officer is Dr Elizabeth Styles. Her assistant is a beautiful android called Monda who is learning German and hopes to learn Terileptil [see The Visitation]. The ship has a cat called Sir Runcible. Ensign Fabian Osborn spends her spare time translating Terileptil poetry into Northern Hemisphere Earth English. She warns Mercer that most of what he learned at the academy doesn’t apply aboard the Vipod Mor. Senior Ensign Baz Seaton was thought to be the dimmest crew member until a computer glitch revealed he had the highest IQ of all. Later, we learn that Seaton is secretly in the employ of the Daleks and is also behind a minor subplot concerning Osborn’s stolen tools. Seaton shoots Osborn but is then shot by Lytton; the mercenary uses a Browning 9mm automatic, which he prefers to modern laser weapons.

The strange objects that (we later learn) contain the Movellan virus samples are hidden in the basement of the warehouse. The Doctor identifies a computer code running through the time corridor and eventually pins it down as Ciskinady, used by the Daleks (Turlough comes to the same conclusion and is sufficiently aware of the Daleks – and, it turns out, Davros! – to recognise their computer code). The Doctor schools Tegan in the basics of Dalek history and, while he believes they were all destroyed, he feels it’s his duty to hunt them down and eradicate them if they’ve returned. The Doctor still uses his half-moon spectacles and in his pockets he carries a wooden HB pencil, some jelly babies and a device to project maps onto surfaces. 

The opposite end of the Dalek corridor emerges on board a Dalek battle cruiser in 4590 (though as the craft travels through the time continuum, this might just be when it arrived, rather than when it’s from originally). The cruiser is presumably stolen as the Daleks have modified it extensively.  Most of the non-Dalek crew of the battle cruiser are Tellurian – ie human [a subtle nod to Robert Holmes – see Carnival of Monsters]. The station has two starfighters at its disposal; engaging with the approaching battle cruiser, they are destroyed in seconds.

According to Tegan, she and the Doctor met Sir Christopher Wren during the Great Fire of London when ‘those Terileptil things were around’. The Doctor reminds her that they met William Shakespeare. She isn’t much of a tea drinker and doesn’t ‘do colonial history’. Turlough is familiar enough with English literature to reference Christopher Robin and recognise a play by Oscar Wilde. He regards his old school as a place for ‘modern-day thuggery’ and abuse. Despite hating his old school, Turlough still wears the uniform as he hopes it will convince the Doctor’s enemies to underestimate a child; he knows this won’t work with Daleks. The Doctor runs like ‘a two-headed sangorstyk being chased by a hungry speelsnape’ (a creature that Saward references in many of his novels).

The Dalek Supreme looks larger than a normal Dalek and has a black body and white ‘nodules’. Gustav Lytton (not ‘Gustave’ as seen in Attack of the Cybermen) has worked with Daleks before and accepts their commissions because they improve his market rates. He finds them ‘noisy, aggressive and highly repetitive’, but this Supreme is quieter and – Lytton’s surprised to learn – a bit sarcastic, telling him ‘only a fool would expect an answer’ to his questions. The Alpha Dalek – the second in command – considers the Supreme ‘effete’.

The station is bombarded by Low-Impact Torpedoes that take out power substations and flood the corridors with acrid smoke before the gas canisters are released. When the mines in the airlock are detonated, 15 Daleks are destroyed (slightly more than the two on telly). The narrator tells us that ‘by now, almost everyone [the prisoner] had known would doubtless be dead’. Considering this is Davros, and he was in suspended animation for thousands of years before he was frozen, this might seem a little obvious, so we must assume that this is a viewpoint generally held by the crew and that they don’t necessarily know the details of his extended timeline:

His lower half, liveried much as a Dalek, was not only his transport but his life support system. On his top half, with its missing left arm, Davros was dressed in the inevitable leather jacket. With blind eyes he observed the world through a single, blue electronic eyeball set into his forehead.

The bomb disposal squad includes metallurgist Professor Sarah Laird, Sergeant Graham Calder, who is an explosives expert and also very good at making a decent pot of tea, and the group leader, Colonel Patrick Archer, who is an academic without much active field experience. The soldier killed by the Dalek in the warehouse is the first to die under Archer’s command, which unnerves the Colonel more than he expects. The soldier attacked by the Dalek mutant is Lance Corporal Miller. 

Turlough has a compass given to him by the Doctor, which he regrets leaving behind in the TARDIS as he gets hopelessly lost aboard the Dalek ship. The Doctor feels uncomfortable killing the Dalek mutant with a handgun. A second Dalek arrives unnoticed at the warehouse, fails to find its fallen comrade and disappears via the time corridor.

Davros enlists help from Trooper engineer Dente Kiston (considering the character was played by future EastEnders star Leslie Grantham, should we wonder if his nickname among the crew was ‘Dirty Dente’?). It’s Lytton, not Kiston who suggests Davros must be ‘equally humane’ in his revenge. The Supreme and Alpha Daleks are aware of Davros’s betrayal from the very start, but the Supreme allows it to play out. Davros is compared to Florence Foster Jenkins attempting a high-C as he rants. A cultural reference for the kids there, Eric.

The TARDIS is said to be from the ‘Type 40 TT series’ but the Doctor has modified it extensively: There’s an art gallery where visitors can gain an insight into artworks by walking around in them; a cavernous wardrobe containing ‘oceans of conflicting garments’; the Explosion Emotion Chamber allows a person to relive sensations and memories; the library contains all of literature from throughout Earth’s history; the robot chef, Ooba-Doa, can conjure up any number of delectable dishes; and the gym, cinema, concert room, private allotment (with its own shed), rock collection and workshops are similarly beyond the realms of a TV budget. The Doctor’s favourite films include Chimes at Midnight (1965, Orson Welles), The Sea Hawk (1940, Michael Curtis) and The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed).

Lance Corporal Miller, controlled by the Dalek poison in his blood, runs off through Shad Thames until he finds a white lorry; he climbs into the back – where he joins his deceased colleagues. A squad of Daleks materialises inside the warehouse to send a high-frequency signal that activates the duplication process (the high-pitched whine that affects Laird on TV). The duplicates then emerge from the back of the white lorry. It’s the Alpha Dalek that intercepts the Doctor on his arrival (‘that’s a new title’, he notes). An officious Gamma Dalek is assigned to guard Davros. A Beta Dalek oversees the duplication room. The two Daleks who are conditioned to obey Davros are Delta and Epsilon. 

Stien loses his stammer when his true identity is revealed and he calls everyone ‘dear boy’ (something Lytton finds especially annoying). The Doctor reveals that he previously met Lytton when he was running a ‘high-class jazz club in Old Compton Street’ (a part of London’s Soho district where Tom Baker spent a lot of the late 70s and early 80s and – presumably – inspired by the similar set-up of Philip Martin’s TV series Gangsters, which starred Lytton actor Maurice Colbourne). Styles is accompanied in the self-destruct chamber by crew member Zena. The Doctor has a lovely little rant at Beta Dalek.

Here we go again, thought the Doctor. ‘Trying to build empires on the back of the dead never works. Kill the Time Lords and you make war on Time itself – all you will get us chaos. And when there is chaos, disaster follows. Have you not learned that?’

The metal detectorist, PJ, was friends with Mr Jones, the tramp shot by the same fake policemen earlier that morning. Tegan is profoundly affected by his murder, a feeling that only increases as she finds the bodies of Colonel Archer and his men. It’s the moment when the Doctor announces his decision to kill Davros when it all becomes too much for her. 

The duplication process triggers memories for the Doctor, regret at having been unable to save Adric and regret at not finding a way of halting the Terileptils in 17th Century London without letting them burn to death. He doesn’t appear to remember other companions although he does recall his fourth and second selves. Lytton tells the Supreme Dalek that the duplicates are failing because they keep remembering their past lives; he’s also aware that the Supreme is concerned by the depleted numbers of the Daleks after their defeat in the war. Davros is aware that the Doctor is a Time Lord and that he is capable of regeneration. As Davros’ Daleks assert that they are not traitors,  Alpha accuses them of blasphemy as ‘the Supreme Dalek is your ruler’. Gamma and Alpha destroy each other in a blast of simultaneous gunfire. The Doctor moves the TARDIS up a level in the warehouse ‘like a lift in Henrik’s’ – yes, the same store Rose Tyler would work in 21 years later. 

The Doctor vows to go after Lytton. Turlough also seems to know who Lytton is (and that he’s an alien too). Tegan wonders if she was too rash in leaving the Doctor. She has been with him for three years and saw many exciting places. She begins to feel strange, as if in possession of new powers. Followed to Tower Bridge by the two policemen, she evades them by dropping down from the bridge edge onto a passing barge. She decides to track down Lytton herself, ‘on her own terms’.

Cover: Anthony Dry’s artwork shows the Doctor with two grey-and-black Daleks.

Final Analysis: There’s something frustrating about Saward’s writing. He often surprises with an odd viewpoint or character insight that really lifts a scene but he also seems easily distracted. Like so many writers in SF, he succumbs too easily to the temptation of trying to make the most mundane, everyday things sound exotic and alien (watch Star Trek for some really bad examples of this), so it’s ‘Terileptil wine’ or ‘Siddion Quartz batteries’ or ‘Tellurian’ whatever, when we really shouldn’t be so focused on such details just as an alien horde is about to burst in. The historical detail about Shad Thames is a lovely piece of background detail that spotlights the history to the location, but when Stien enters the TARDIS and discovers its many rooms, Saward lacks any sense of discipline as he pads the job with giddy abandon to sketch out a hidden dimension of madness that has absolutely no bearing on the plot and adds nothing whatsoever to the characters. Such mind-blowing discoveries could have been the trigger that unlocks Stien’s conditioning, for example, but it just goes nowhere. Also, the tagged-on final sequence with Tegan might have struck Saward as empowerment, but it’s really rather silly.

That’s the negative critique out of the way. This really is the ‘expanded universe’ version of an already popular tale. The crew of the prison station (here named the Vipod Mor, for reasons that apparently completely escaped Saward) are even more disheartened and dejected than they appear on screen, but we’re shown why and how this comes about. The bomb squad are a keen group of experts with likeable personalities but a significant lack of experience in battle situations, so we feel Archer’s discomfort and sense of responsibility as the killings begin. Tegan’s growing distress at the violence that surrounds her is a subtle slow burn, which contrasts her memories of many otherwise uneventful trips to fantastical worlds that we never got to see, while Turlough’s alien nature is illustrated by his love of skulking, his casual knowledge of extra-terrestrial politics and the rather marvellous revelation that he only maintains his school uniform because he believes it will make him seem less of a threat to the Doctor’s enemies if they consider him to be just a mere schoolboy.

Like Robert Holmes, Saward loves using violence as a means to tap the blackly comic cruelty of the universe:

Enveloped by the gas, people started to die. Internal organs atrophied or erupted like massive boils, causing bodies to rapidly decompose. The truly unlucky developed a form of accelerated leprosy where flesh and sinew instantly started to rot. Whoever had designed the gas seemed to possess a highly warped obsession with reducing organic living beings too little more than puddles of acrid slime.

Unsurprisingly, Saward does Davros rather well. We might think of the character as a dry husk, but Saward depicts him as very wet – coughing, spluttering, gurgling and spitting throughout, ‘like a man with a sudden, intense bout of malaria’. He also achieves a minor miracle by giving each of his Daleks subtle characteristics and personalities. The Supreme is pompous and ‘effete’, Alpha is impetuous and full of scorn for the Supreme’s leadership and the conditioned Daleks genuinely don’t understand what the fuss is all about when all they want to do is serve their creator. Our narrator points out that this teetering on the brink of civil war is a recurring issue with Daleks (and having Daleks called Alpha and Beta might also remind us of a previous period of inter-factional hostility in Dalek history). They might not be strictly adhering to Terry Nation’s vision of a unified and logical race, but this is a very welcome addition to the Dalek DNA.

Chapter 148. Doctor Who – Remembrance of the Daleks (1990)

Synopsis: The Hand of Omega – a powerful weapon from the dark times of Gallifrey. In 1963, an old man living in a junkyard hid the weapon on Earth. Then the Daleks came looking for it, hoping it could be used to end a civil war between Dalek factions. The Doctor now returns with his new friend Ace to find the Hand of Omega – and give it to the Daleks! But which side gets it, the Renegades led by the Supreme Dalek, or those loyal to the Dalek Emperor? Time will tell…

Chapter Titles

A prologue and 23 numbered chapters, although each chapter also begins with a time, such as ‘Friday, 15:30’.

Background: Ben Aaronovich adapts his own scripts for the 1988 serial, completing the run of stories from Season 25.

Notes: The book opens with a quote from Shakespeare’s Richard III and a prologue that once again adapts the Doctor’s arrival at the junkyard from An Unearthly Child. Ace has destroyed the TARDIS ‘food synthesiser’ by mistaking it for a microwave and accidentally pouring plutonium into it, thinking it was soup. When the Doctor gives her currency appropriate for the time, Ace recalls the savings coupons on Iceworld [see Dragonfire]. This Doctor has ‘intense grey eyes’ and an unnerving gaze.

We’re introduced to more of Gilmore’s squad: There’s a 26-year-old Private John Lewis Abbot; Bellos, a big man from Yorkshire; Sergeant Embery; Quartermaster-Sergeant Kaufman; MacBrewer (a career soldier, ‘Catholic, married, four children’), who is killed by the Dalek at Totter’s Lane; Faringdon, who is decapitated by Dalek fire during the battle at the school; and Corporal Grant, who is the soldier attacked by Mike Smith in the cellar of Coal Hill School.

The Doctor recalls his first visit to Skaro and the death of Temmosus, plus events from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Planet of the Daleks and Genesis of the Daleks. Thanks to an excerpt from The Zen Military – A History of UNIT by Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart (2006), we learn that UNIT emerged out of an earlier operation, the Intrusion Counter Measures Group, a Royal Air Force Regiment established in 1961 under the command of Group Captain Ian Gilmore. The official files refer to the events of this story as ‘the Shoreditch Incident’. Gilmore’s headquarters are at Maybury Hall in Hendon but, recognising he needed a base closer to the centre of the current operation, he asked Sergeant Mike Smith to make enquiries – and Smith brought in Ratcliffe from the Shoreditch Association. Ratcliffe’s men attack Gilmore’s officers at Foreman’s Yard and steal the Dalek remains (an assault missing from the transmitted episode, which cuts straight to the removal of the Dalek remains on the back of Ratcliffe’s truck).

In one of the novel’s most far-reaching additions, we encounter a triumvirate of Time Lords from Gallifrey’s legends: Omega is ‘a huge man with wide shoulders and muscular arms, a definite drift from the regenerative norm’ who is seen by some as a genetic throwback from the dark time; he addresses Rassilon as ‘cousin’ and Omega believes himself and Rassilon to be equally responsible for their varied Time Lord creations; and the unnamed ‘other’, who urges caution, reminding them of Minyos [see Underworld – or, y’know, don’t] and warning that Omega’s ‘magnificent achievement’ might also serve as a weapon. 

The Doctor suspects that the Daleks that invaded Earth in the 22nd Century uncovered information that led them to the Hand of Omega in 1963 [perhaps during the Doctor’s aborted robotisation]. We also learn that the Daleks (or at least the renegade faction) call the Doctor ‘the Ka Faraq Gatri’ and the Imperial Faction are known as ‘the Ven-Katri Davrett’. The Imperial Dalek transmat operator bursts through a wall in the school cellar, behind which it has lain dormant for some time.

The Doctor stops at a roadside tea-stall in the docklands, run by John (it’s not the cafe we saw earlier, as it was on TV). Rachel Jensen is also staying at the boarding house run by Mike’s mum. In a dream, Rachel finds herself inside the synagogue in Golders Green that she attended with her mum as a child, where the familiar Rabbi is replaced by the Doctor. While they’re recovering from the events at Foreman’s Yard, Rachel is surprised to hear Gilmore call her by her first name and we learn that, 23 years earlier, she and Gilmore had enjoyed a night of passion on a beach, before she was dispatched to other manoeuvres in Scotland (neither of them married). She worked with Alan Turing and his description of the human brain put her off porridge for life. When tying the rope for their escape from the school, she recalls her time as a girl guide. According to The Women That Science Forgot by Rowan Sesay (1983), Rachel retired in 1964 and published her autobiography, The Electric Dreamer.

Ace got her first taste for explosives at the age of 12, when she discovered the effects of mixing nitrate fertilizer with a two-pound packet of sugar. As a teenager, Ace attended a modern ‘concrete’ school covered in multicultural murals, where her friends were Manisha, Judy and Claire. Manisha had long black hair – until she was in a fire, which Ace tries to forget. Ace also has a dream while at Mike’s mum’s, in which she remembers visiting Manisha in hospital after she and a sibling escaped the fire that killed her parents and three younger children; Manisha left Perivale to stay with relatives in Birmingham:

It was Dorothy who stared at the burnt house, the burnt face, the burnt life, the racist graffiti. And it was Dorothy who stared at the words ‘Pakis out’ on the wall of the playground. 

It was Ace who blew away the wall with two and a half kilograms of nitro-nine. 

Fireball in the darkness. 

Fire fighting fire.

This attack happened when Ace was 14, two years prior to what the Doctor calls Ace’s ‘adjustment’, which saw her catapulted across time and space to Iceworld.

The junior undertaker is called Martin. As a young captain, the Reverend Parkinson had fought in the Great War in Verdun, where he lost his sight, but found his vocation. Mike’s dad had been in the Navy during World War II and was lost with his ship in 1943 while running weapons to the Russians in the Arctic Sea; a photograph of his father, in uniform, is still on Mike’s mum’s wall in the boarding house. Mike first met Ratcliffe as a child, when the older man had given him some German chocolate. Mike served in Malaya for 18 months and spent some time in Singapore, but stayed in touch with Ratcliffe, who only days before this operation had warned the young soldier that the United States would be getting ‘a new president’.

Allison refers to the situation with ‘Miss Keeler’ that has affected the current government (ie, the ‘Profumo Affair’). Ace sees Muffin the Mule on TV. Her behaviour at the school alerts the Imperial Dalek commander that she must either be from a different planet or a different time period and instructs the Dalek squad to target her. As recounted in The Children of Davros, a Short History of the Dalek Race by Njeri Ngugi (4065), the Daleks suffered 83% casualties in the Movellan war and the remnants factionalised across the galaxy. The arrival of Davros’s new Daleks propelled the Dalek race into civil war. The Dalek mothership is called Eret-mensaiki Ska, or ‘Destiny of Stars’ and it was constructed in orbit around Skaro. It contains hatcheries that nurture Dalek embryos. There are tiny servo-robots providing maintenance across the Dalek mothership and the Doctor sees one aboard the shuttle. Also aboard the shuttle is the special weapons Dalek, also known as ‘the Abomination’, the presence of which unsettles the Imperial Commander. Its past history seems to contain the first reference in Doctor Who to a Time War:

It served in many campaigns: Pa Jass-Gutrik, the war of vengeance against the Movellans; Pa Jaski-Thal, the liquidation war against the Thals; and PaJass-Vortan, the time campaign – the war to end all wars.

The radiation from its gun has sent it insane and it only survives by order of the Emperor. The Dalek Emperor remembers when he was a man – and we might pick up the clues that this man was Davros in a description that is pure body-horror:

He remembered the smell of his own blood, pulsing slowly from severed arteries, the taste of concrete dust in his mouth, and the crackling of his own skin. He hurtled blindly into darkness.

And then resurrection. 

An age of pain and humiliation. He was reconstructed with chrome and plastic, held together by tungsten wire. They drilled sockets through his skull and threaded fibreoptics into his forebrain. 

Ratcliffe had marched on Cable Street with Oswald Mosley, ‘proud to be English, proud to fight against the jew and the Bolshevik, proud to stand up for their race’; he served a prison sentence during World War II, but managed to spend the 1950s setting up a construction company, profiting on the rebuilding of London. Ratcliffe walked into his office one day to find the Renegade Dalek battle computer installed in the shadows; it began to feed him secrets and use his business to install electronic devices – Electronic countermeasures pods, or ECMs – hidden around the rooftops of London and which scramble the circuits of the Imperial forces. The Supreme Dalek and its renegade troops lie dormant, hidden away in Ratcliffe’s warehouse until the Imperial Shuttle lands.

On Skaro, Vekis Nar-Kangli (the Plain of Swords) is where the final Kaled-Thal war ended and where the Dalek city, Mensvat Esc-Dalek, was built. The Hand of Omega destroys one thousand million Daleks along with Skaro, its sun and its other surrounding planets. Ace sprays graffiti on the rear of the Imperial Dalek shuttle: ‘Ace woz ‘ere in 63’. The Doctor befriends a dog – an Alsation [see more of this in Survival]. Allison writes to ‘Julian’ to share some gossip about a possible relationship between Rachel Jensen and Ian Gilmore and reveals that they’re trying to find the parents of the ‘creepy girl’.

Cover: Alister Pearson combines Davros, a gravestone with an ‘omega’ symbol, a smirking Doctor and three types of Dalek in a cover that also draws him equal with Andrew Skilleter in painting all of the covers for a single season of stories.

Final Analysis: Remembrance of the Daleks is seen by many fans as a high-point in the final years of the series. When he took on the role of Target range editor in February 1989, Peter Darvill Evans began to develop plans to publish original novels once the novelisations were complete. His first steps were to encourage the writers of this final run of stories to expand upon the TV scripts, writing the novels for an older audience. Target authors had often tried to expand the depth of their original stories, but here Ben Aaronovich delivers an altogether more cohesive work. We find out why Ratcliffe is more than just a useful fascist for the Daleks – his construction company has been used to create a network of Dalek devices across London. We learn much more about Ace (who is only in her second story, chronologically) and Aaronovich plays with the conflicts burning through a teenage girl who is also wise beyond her years, experiencing her first love and first betrayal. We’re teased with a smattering of Dalek history and allowed inside the minds of various Daleks and even the Emperor himself – to a depth unseen in even the novels of John Peel. The renegade Dalek Supreme in particular is fascinating, experiencing feelings and sensations by proxy through the girl who is the battle computer and an extension of the Supreme.

Aaronovich doesn’t flinch away from the brutality of war and it’s definitely the most er, mature novel since the heady days of Ian Marter: There’s mention of an incident in Gilmore’s wartime past that involved ‘two German soldiers his men had scraped off the interior of a pillbox’ and the gut-wrenching fate of a soldier called Faringdon. Also, while we’ve had passing mentions of orgies and alien reproduction, a flashback to a ‘brief encounter’ between Gilmore and Rachel on a beach – where he calls out her name and then doesn’t say it again for 23 years – is the closest we ever get in the pages of a Target book to an actual sex scene – which I definitely didn’t pick up on during any of the previous times I read this. And of course, Aaronovich’s own heritage enriches the backstory of Rachel.

There are many books in the volumes 100-156 that I’ve read for the first time for this project, Remembrance of the Daleks is one that I’ve come back to repeatedly since it was first published. It’s no exaggeration that it was a game-changer. At this point, we were still a year away from the release of Timewyrm: Genesis but here is where the New Adventures truly begin; it’s a story ‘too broad and too deep’ for the small screen, featuring the Doctor as a mythic figure and with revelations that hint at a history that predates the TV series. Right at the very end of the series, we begin a ‘new golden age’.

Chapter 51. Doctor Who and the Destiny of the Daleks (1979)

Synopsis: The Doctor and Romana explore a dead world, unaware that one of them has been there before. A spaceship arrives containing the beautiful Movellans who inform the Doctor that the planet is Skaro – home of the Daleks – and their mission is to find the Dalek creator, Davros. But Davros is dead… and coincidentally, so is Romana!

Chapter Titles

  • 1. The Dead City
  • 2. Underground Evil
  • 3. The Daleks
  • 4. The Movellans
  • 5. Slaves of the Daleks
  • 6. Escape
  • 7. The Secret of the Daleks
  • 8. The Prisoner
  • 9. The Hostages
  • 10. The Bait
  • 11. Stalemate
  • 12. Suicide Squad
  • 13. Blow-up
  • 14. Departure

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts Terry Nation’s scripts for a story that aired just two months earlier.

Notes: Dicks calls Romana a ‘Time Lady’ and summarises the events from the climax of The Armageddon Factor, which hasn’t been novelised yet. The Doctor surmises that Romana’s higher score at the academy accounts for her greater control over how she regenerates, unlike his own traumatic experiences. They arrive on the strange dead world at night during a storm (it’s a bright, sunny day on TV). The slaves bury their dead under rocks because the foundations of the city ruins are too thick to dig up. The dead body that the Doctor investigates was a ‘Space Major Dal Garrant’ (so close to that familiar ‘Tarrant’ that Nation often used). While pinned under the fallen masonry, the Doctor reads ‘The Origins of the Tenth Galaxy’,  written by a ‘particularly pompous Time Lord historian’ who he has never liked. He’s interrupted by the arrival of just two Movellans (Lan and Agella) and they’re wearing ‘simple, military-type space coveralls’, rather than the beautifully distinctive space-dreadlocks and Top of the Pops dance-troop suits. On the Movellan spaceship, Commander Sharrell’s rank is denoted by an insignia on his uniform. 

Sharrel does not identify the planet they’re on beyond the serial number. Only later does the Doctor discover that it’s Skaro, when Tyssan tells him. As Davros revives, his eyes open [see The Witch’s Familiar in 2015]. The journey to the surface with Davros involves a long, steep, spiralling ramp. The Daleks cheat and make their way to Davros’s level using ‘eerily silent anti-grav discs’ as seen in Planet of the Daleks. Disappointingly, the Doctor doesn’t tell the Daleks to ‘spack off’. The Dalek mutant that he encounters in the sand dunes is more active than the blob of Slime-with-Worms from TV. It’s a ‘pulsating green blob, a kind of land-jellyfish’ that crawls up his arm. There’s a fair bit of gender-swapping here: Veldan and Jall’s genders are reversed, the Daleks’ sacrificial victims are both male and the Movellan that captures the Doctor and Tyssan is also male. Romana doesn’t dismember Sharrel during their fight, she merely kicks away his power tube.

Cover: Welcome Andrew Skilleter, who surrounds an image of the Doctor (based on a pic from The Pirate Planet) with very TV Century 21-style Daleks moving around in fog, as if at a disco. Alister Pearson’s 1990 reprint cover puts the Doctor and Romana alongside a moody Davros in profile, a Dalek and Agella against a salmon background.

Final Analysis: Destiny of the Daleks seems to polarise opinion, but as it was the first Dalek story where I was old enough to follow the plot in full, I didn’t care about how tatty the props looked or that the central point about a robotic impasse shouldn’t have worked because Daleks aren’t robots. I just enjoyed it for being Daleks on my telly. This novelisation is, for me, the first point in this project where Terrance Dicks’ straightforward script-to-page approach feels a little lacking. Racing to get this story novelised meant that Romana v2 is introduced before V1 – we’ve leapt past a season and a half of stories, which is quite confusing – but there’s no real explanation as to who Romana is, only that she’s changed and she’s from Gallifrey. The Movellan costumes are described in such generic terms that they lose some of their onscreen glamour, and it’s all a little… thin. However, there is this lovely harkback to Genesis of the Daleks, which highlights a decision the Doctor has returned to time and time again:

The Doctor sighed. He had hesitated once before, at a time when he could have destroyed the Daleks before their creation, simply by touching the two wires that would complete an explosive circuit. Who knows what horrors he had unleashed upon the Universe? The Daleks were stronger now and more numerous, and with Davros to help them… He must not hesitate again. The Doctor pressed the switch. 

Chapter 23. Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks (1976)

Synopsis: The planet Skaro has been a battleground for generations as two races fight for supremacy. Deep beneath the planet’s surface, the chief scientist of the Kaleds, Davros, has determined the final outcome of his race and has planned for their future – as Daleks. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry are sent by the Time Lords to avert the creation of the Daleks – but do they really have the right to commit genocide?

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Secret Mission
  • 2. Prisoners of War
  • 3. The Secret Weapon
  • 4. Rocket of Doom
  • 5. Escape to Danger
  • 6. Betrayal
  • 7. Countdown to Destruction
  • 8. Captives of Davros
  • 9. Rebellion!
  • 10. Decision for the Doctor
  • 11. Triumph of the Daleks
  • 12. A Kind of Victory

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts Terry Nation’s 1975 scripts. In 1991, it was revealed that Genesis of the Daleks was the best seller of the entire range, having shifted over 100,000 copies to that point.

Notes: The story follows on from The Sontaran Experiment with the time travellers expecting to be back at Space Station Nerva [but see The Ark in Space and The Sontaran Experiment for how that doesn’t match the book universe]. Sarah recalls her first encounter with the Daleks on the planet of the Exxilons [See Death to the Daleks in 20 books’ time]  The Doctor  has time to explain the Time Lords’ mission to Sarah and Harry before they’re attacked and endure a more protracted battle on their first approach to the Kaled dome. There’s a little extra information about how Davros came to look the way he does:

Harry Sullivan looked at Davros in horror. ‘What happened to the poor devil?’

‘An atomic shell struck his laboratory during a Thal bombardment,’ whispered Ronson. ‘His body was shattered, but he refused to die. He clung to life, and himself designed the mobile life-support system in which you see him.’

A group of Thal soldiers are noted to be blond (as in the earlier stories, even though that was a product of their full cycle of mutation). Sevrin is a giant with agility like an ape, while Bettan has ‘an important official position’ and is responsible for the victory celebrations planned after the end of the war. Davros’s office looks down onto the laboratory, which gives the Doctor and his chums a better view of events than the small monitor they had on TV. As Davros is exterminated by the Daleks, his chair explodes into flames. The new Dalek leader, while announcing their mission statement, decrees that they shall build their own city [a reference to the first Dalek story?]. Sevrin sees the time travellers disappear (and Sarah waves him goodbye before the trio vanishes).

Cover: Achilleos gives the first edition a deceptively simple design as Davros (in a brown tunic) owns the centre while a Dalek lurks at the rear and the Doctor is inset and sepia as if on a screen. Alister Pearson gives the 1991 reprint a similarly plain cover, with the Doctor emerging through the fog as Davros enters, stage left.

Final Analysis: Matching the TV story, the tone of this adaptation is a leap away from the rompy fun of its predecessors. This is grim from the first scene and there’s barely any concession to a younger audience. Maybe it’s the quality of Terry Nation’s scripts (or Dicks’s friendship with the script editor who oversaw then), but considering the TV version has possibly the highest number of exterminations in a story up to this point, Dicks doesn’t shy away from any of it, and even goes into detail and singles out a few individuals for their personal experience of ‘Death by Dalek’. Even the Dalek incubation room benefits from a little extra groo, as Dicks paints a picture of glass tanks containing ‘ghastly-shaped creatures twisted and writhed in agitation, while in the darker corners of the room other monstrosities cowered away timidly’.

As if this couldn’t be more perfect, we get another chapter called ‘Escape to Danger’. Yay!