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 86. Doctor Who – The Dominators (1984)

Synopsis: An island in an ocean on the planet Dulkis. Survivors of war, the Dulcians are now complete pacifists. They have no concept of aggression, no understanding of what it takes to defend themselves. They are ill equipped to deal with the Dominators. Accompanied by their murderous robot servants the Quarks, the invaders see Dulkis merely as a resource to be exploited. And the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe must stop them.

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Island of Death
  • 2. The Radiation Mystery
  • 3. The Assessment
  • 4. Heads in the Sand
  • 5. Slavery
  • 6. Fighting Back
  • 7. Buried Alive
  • 8. Clues
  • 9. Last Chances
  • 10. Desperate Remedies

Background: Ian Marter adapts the 1968 scripts credited to Norman Ashby (a pseudonym for Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln).

Notes: Dulkis is immediately diminished in importance; it’s  ‘pale, ochre-coloured’, and ‘an insignificant little planet which orbited an isolated minor star’. In contrast, everything about the Dominators is heightened to make them appear impressive:

They were human in form but towered more than two and a half metres in height. Their leathery features were starkly chiselled, with thin bloodless lips and deeply set red-rimmed eyes which burned with a cold green light beneath heavy brows. Their short hair was black and sleeked back, like a skullcap, from their shallow foreheads.The creatures were clad in protective suits consisting of black quilted material like rubber, armoured with small overlapping plates and built up around the shoulders so that they appeared to have no necks.

The Quarks too are much taller than the schoolboy-sized ones we see on telly, about two metres tall. The surface of their ball-shaped heads is covered with ‘a network of eyes and sensors’, while their arms have hand-like endings ‘bristling with sensors, sockets and implements’. They’re also a little bit more talkative.

Inside the War Museum, Jamie inspects a laser gun and it accidentally discharges, punching a hole into a door . There are four figures sat around a circular table (not two at a desk as on screen):

… their bodies frozen into grotesquely contorted positions. Their clothing was charred and rotten, here and there fused into a glassy lump with their roasted and flayed flesh. The eyeless faces were burned beyond recognition.

The Dulcians measure years in ‘annos’ and months in ‘lunars’. ‘Cully’ becomes ‘Kully’; at one point, he attempts to impersonate Jamie’s accent.

Cover: Andrew Skilleter gives us a Dominator and a Quark operating drilling equipment, while a huge oversized Quark fills the skyline. The 1991 reprint cover reuses Alister Pearson’s VHS artwork, with the Doctor flanked by pairs of Dominators and Quarks.

Final Analysis: It’s surprising that one of the most unsettling visual effects of its time – the fiery bubbling of Tolata’s skin as she’s blasted by a Quark – is reduced to an energy burst and a bloodless murder. I’d have expected Ian Marter to go all out on this, considering the gruesome description he gives to the dummies in the war room in a later scene. But this is a subtle work: Marter’s introduction places the impressive Dominator battleships soaring across space in formation near to quite the most boring-looking planet ever. In Chapter 4, we finally reach the Dulcian Capitol, where its citizens enjoy warmth from the planet’s ‘modest yellow sun’, there are galleries filled with ‘lush green vegetation’, small fountains that cast ‘fine shimmering sprays of purified water in myriad colours’. The Council Chambers are pastel shades, the elderly Councillors lounge in ‘padded reclining chairs’ with cushions, everything is soft, soothing and entirely non-threatening. In the space of a couple of paragraphs, we’re shown that Dukis has absolutely no defence against the trigger-happy invaders. It’s so much better than the story deserves, being a little one-note and thin on TV.

Chapter 32. Doctor Who and the Ark in Space (1977)

Synopsis: In the distant future, shielded from a long-past disaster, the entire population of Earth lies asleep in a wheel-shaped space-station. When the Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive at the station, they discover that its inhabitants have overslept due to interference from an invading alien insect – a Wirrrn. As the parasite grows, it threatens not just the lives of the waking senior crew of the station, but the entire human race…

Chapter Titles

  • Prologue: The Intruder
  • 1. The Second Invasion
  • 2. Sarah Vanishes
  • 3. Sabotage!
  • 4. A Fatal Wound
  • 5. The Wirrrn
  • 6. Time Running Out
  • 7. A Tight Squeeze
  • 8. A New Beginning

Background: Ian Marter adapts Robert Holmes’ 1975 scripts. He was the first and, to date, only actor to novelise a story he was in. 

Notes: Yes – Wirrrn! Marter gives the Wirrrn an extra ‘r’ as well as much more flexibility than their TV counterparts; the first invader Wirrrn is able to arch ‘its segmented tail up over its head’ as it grips ‘the cables in its huge claw and sever[s] them cleanly with a single slice.’ Later, the Doctor suggests the Wirrrn grub might be a ‘multi-nucleate organism’ to explain how it passed through a grill. When Harry and the Doctor find the dessicated husk of the Wirrrn Queen in the cupboard, Marter gives us an interesting description of the insect:

He stared at the enormous ‘insect’ which lay crumbling at his feet. The surface of its segmented body was a glossy indigo colour; here and there were patches of twisted and blackened tissue, like scorched plastic. The six tentacular legs bristled with razor-sharp ‘hairs’. The creature’s octopus head contained a huge globular eye on each side, and each eye was composed of thousands of cells in which Harry saw himself reflected over and over again. The creature was fully three metres long from the top of its domed head to the tip of the fearsome pincer in which its tail terminated.

On arrival, Sarah is wearing a denim trouser suit and woolly hat, similar to items she wore during Robot on TV. In the prologue, the Ark is not in orbit around the Earth but in the outer reaches of the solar system [as it also is in Revenge of the Cybermen]. The autoguard is renamed an ‘Organic Matter Detector Surveillance System’ – or OMDSS – and the space station is renamed ‘Terra Nova’ (was the Ark expected to reach New Earth??). The Ark includes full-sized blue whales, elephants and palm trees. The support struts contain moving walkways, leading to the outer ring. Vira is over two metres tall with short, dark hair, while Noah is ‘a tall, slim but powerful man with short black hair and a trim beard.’

The Doctor’s journey to the solar plasma cells reveals a multitude of tacky, silver trails across every surface. The gestating Wirrrn lie somewhere high up above the catwalks of the solar stacks in the form of ‘clusters of pustular matter’. On her tight-squeezed journey through the ducts of the space station, Sarah reaches a clear section where she’s attacked by a Wirrrn. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry depart in the TARDIS, not via the transmat booths.

Cover: Chris Achilleos’s final cover for the range is a simple design, with the Doctor looking worried inset while a Wirrrn dominates the frame (which is bordered in the same yellow as Carnival of Monsters). The 1991 reprint cover by Alister Pearson has the same Nerva wireframe border motif as Revenge of the Cybermen, with a Wirrrn centre and a second, smaller Wirrrn in the foreground, making the perspectives look off. Perhaps this would have been better to have a semi-converted Noah, or a Wirrrn grub in the foreground instead? A 2012 BBC Books edition reuses an edited version of the original Achilleos cover, placing the Wirrrn and the Doctor on a white background to match the new house style.

Final Analysis: As mentioned in this blog’s introduction, this was one of four books I received as a Christmas present in 1980, the first Target books I owned, rather than loaning from the library. I might have seen it at the time (I was definitely watching the series by the time of the repeat of Planet of the Spiders) but my main memory comes from this novel – and then pirate videotapes that were circulating in the mid-1980s. Ian Marter brings a joyful flavour of pulp horror to this, which – considering this adaptation predates Alien, The Thing, The Fly etc – makes me wonder what his influences were: HP Lovecraft, is an obvious one; maybe R. Chetwynd-Hayes or Guy N Smith’s Night of the Crabs? It’s a definite conscious step towards horror fiction here though, and not even a child-friendly version either. 

The prologue details the first intrusion by a Wirrrn with foreboding (while an announced ‘second invasion’ turns out to be the Doctor, Sarah and Harry) and the bubble-wrap grub from TV becomes an amorphous ‘glob’ that drips from the ceilings and sparks with energy. Noah’s transformation is particularly gruey:

… with a crack like a gigantic seed pod bursting, his whole head split open and a fountain of green froth erupted and ran sizzling down the radiation suit, burning deep trenches in the thick material. 

I’m not giving stars or scores for these books, but this one really feels like it’s elevating an already excellent story. This Marter bloke is one to watch out for…

Chapter 31. Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos (1977)

Synopsis: A strange object from space lands on Earth near a nuclear power station. Inside are Axons, a family of golden beings who offer unlimited power in return for help with their damaged spacecraft. While the Doctor tries to keep an open mind, an ambitious politician rushes to seize the Axon’s power for his own interests. Deep inside the alien craft, the Master is being held captive – and as Jo Grant discovers, that’s not the only secret the Axons are keeping…

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Invader from Space
  • 2. The Landing
  • 3. The Voice of Axos
  • 4. Enter the Master
  • 5. The Doctor Makes a Plan
  • 6. Escape from Axos
  • 7. The Axons Attack
  • 8. The Power Robbers
  • 9. The Sacrifice
  • 10. Brainstorm
  • 11. The Feast of Axos
  • 12. Trapped in Time

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts scripts by Bob Baker and Dave Martin from the 1971 production.

Notes: As it soars towards Earth, the Axos ship has a ‘constantly changing’ shape and glows with a ‘myriad of colours’ – its intention is to be noticed. The first scene with the two radio operators is expanded here; they’re not UNIT operators here, but personnel at the tracking station – Ransome and his assistant, Harry – who work down the list of people they need to contact and find ‘something called UNIT’. The first interaction between the Brigadier and Chinn also provides background information – the minister in overall charge of Chinn’s department cannot stand him, and as the Brigadier is also a problem, he decides to set the two men against each other in the hope that the winner will eliminate one or the other. Although UNIT is governed from Geneva, the Brigadier’s operations are part-funded by the British Government. Corporal Bell is not part of this story, her role is given to a nameless male technician.

We get an introductory scene (cut from the TV version but included as an extra on DVD) where Bill Filer is on the hunt for a man called ‘Joe Grant’ – and Jo corrects him. Bill is described as having ‘closely trimmed brown hair and a pleasantly ugly face’ – wow, that’s a pretty mean swipe at the reasonably handsome Paul Grist who played him.

The Doctor and Jo drive to the landing site in Bessie (yay!). The Axon who first frightens Jo subsequently appears as a male identical to the Axon leader. The Axon leader does not assume that the toad is livestock, but spells out the potential, had it been a ‘food animal’. The process transforms the toad into a huge form that overwhelms Chinn and makes him scream. Later, as Axos reacts to the Doctor’s experiment, the Eye of Axos is said to be ‘lashing wildly to and fro on its stalk’, which is much more fluid a movement than the TV prop could manage.

Jo overhears the Doctor speculating about Axonite’s potential for time travel and suspects he has selfish intentions early on. The Doctor spots straight away that the Axon-Filer is a fake thanks to his experience of the Autons replicating humans. He also baffles a sentry to gain access to the arrested Brigadier: ‘Good heavens, man, I know the Brigadier’s incommunicado. I’m incommunicado myself. There’s no reason why we can’t talk to each other.’ Delightful!

The Master enters the Nuton complex disguised as a visitings scientist and recalls the time he broke into UNIT HQ dressed as a ‘humble telephone engineer’. The Master’s TARDIS is a white dome, not a filing cabinet.

To the Eye of Axos’s surprise, the Doctor reveals that he’s deduced that Axos already has some limited ability for time travel; he realised that Axos reached Earth before the missiles were fired and Axos confesses that they can ‘move only moments in Time.’ Hardiman’s assistant (credited on screen as ‘Technician’) is named ‘Ericson’.

Cover: Achilleos gives us an eerie female Axon with rays of light coming from her eyes while an Axon monster looms behind her and the Doctor (taken from a photo from Frontier in Space) is pictured inset looking concerned. A 1979 edition had a cover by John Geary showing the adult male Axon and two very green Axon monsters.

Final Analysis: I’m hugely fond of The Claws of Axos TV episodes, one of those comfort stories I can bung on while I decide what I’d sooner be watching and then settle down and enjoy it. Terrance Dicks captures all of the conflicted loyalties that the Axons draw out of our heroes – are they victims in need, or should they have been blasted into bits from the start? –  but he enhances the suspicion that the Doctor is solely interested in using Axos to escape Earth and relishes in making Chinn hated by absolutely everyone he encounters. The Master once again enjoys the thrill of the adventure, deciding on a whim to jump from a bridge onto a UNIT truck and then exploiting his good fortune when it turns out to be going where he wants to be. The ending is also less rushed than on TV, as Bill Filer says his goodbyes and jokes that he’d thought England would be ‘dull’, Chinn scampers back to the Minister to try framing the success as his own, while the operation to rescue the TARDIS and get it onto the back of a UNIT truck turns into a huge argument, which Jo welcomes as things getting ‘back to normal’. 

Chapter 21. Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors (1976)

Synopsis: As mainland Britain is plunged into a new ice age, researchers at the Britannica scientific base uncover a giant man refrigerated in the frozen landscape. The figure thaws and emerges from suspended animation, announcing himself as Varga, a warrior from Mars. He aims to uncover his spaceship and crew, which have lain dormant all this time. And doing so could risk the destruction of the Britannica Base…

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Battle Against the Glaciers
  • 2. Two Minutes to Doomsday
  • 3. Creature from the Red Planet
  • 4. Back from the Dead
  • 5. The Omega Factor
  • 6. Under the Moving Mountain
  • 7. Diplomat in Danger
  • 8. The Martian Ultimatum
  • 9. Counter-Attack
  • 10. On the Brink of Destruction!

Background: Bryan Hayles adapts his own scripts for the 1967 serial.

Notes: Jamie is described as a ‘rugged-faced lad’ and Victoria as ‘a pretty, doll-like girl’. Zondal is a lieutenant and Jamie says there are six warriors although only five are named (as per the TV show). The escapade with the bear is missing. The Britannica Base computer is named here, ECCO. The Doctor threatens Varga with a sonic blast set to ‘Frequency Seven’, which will affect the Martian as his body has a higher fluid content than humans (a detail mentioned on TV and then forgotten). Varga notes that Frequency Seven is used ‘in the prisons of his home planet as a form of aversion punishment, continuous doses of it could destroy the brain, leaving the body a living vegetable’.

Cover: Chris Achilleos recreates a couple of publicity photos – Victoria screams and Varga looms behind her with sparks flying from his clamp-hands; it’s a simple but very effective design – and the first not to feature the Doctor!

Final Analysis: While the Ice Warriors themselves are an inventive creation that just about manage to avoid being totally generic aliens, much of the dialogue among the Britanica Base staff has a degree of technowaffle that feels fake and artificially hysterical for no real reason. Hayles follows the main flow of the TV episodes faithfully, with just the odd tweak here and there, but despite the story’s revered status, it’s deathly dull and the book doesn’t really salvage that.

Bryan Hayles died in 1978, aged 47.

Chapter 20. Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet (1976)

Synopsis: A new planet appears in Earth’s solar system. The Doctor seems to know what it is and what will happen next. The planet, which bears a striking similarity to Earth, is home to a race of plastic and metal beings called ‘Cybermen’. As Ben and Polly help the staff of an Antarctic tracking station to fight off the invaders, the Doctor prepares for his final adventure. 

Chapter Titles

  • The Creation of the Cybermen
  • 1 The Space Tracking Station
  • 2 Disaster in Space
  • 3 The New Planet
  • 4 Mondas!
  • 5 The Cyberman Invasion
  • 6 Ben into Action
  • 7 Battle in the Projection Room
  • 8 Two Hundred and Fifty Spaceships
  • 9 Z-Bomb Alert!
  • 10 Prepare to Blast Off
  • 11 Cybermen in Control
  • 12 Resistance in the Radiation Room
  • 13 The Destruction of Mondas!

Background: Gerry Davis adapts the 1966 scripts he co-wrote with Kit Pedler.

Notes: The book begins with a summary of the creation of the Cybermen, claiming they originated on the planet Telos before taking refuge on the ‘lost sister planet of Earth – Mondas’. An American called Tito is reading a Captain Marvel comic (presumably a vintage edition as the character didn’t have a comic of his / her own in either 1986 or 2000). Although this is only the third TV adventure for Ben and Polly, it’s suggested that they’ve been on many uneventful journeys since they joined the Doctor. Continuity from Davis’s Doctor Who and the Cybermen is preserved, as Ben and Polly are from the early 1970s, not the mid-60s, so Ben can recognise a Roger Moore Bond film that he saw for the first time a few weeks before he joined the Doctor’s travels (very possibly The Man with the Golden Gun, which would mean the Doctor’s young friends are from 1974). And yes, Polly discovers they’re in the more futuristic year 2000 (not 1986 as in the original. At the time of writing, the year 2000 is over 20 years in my past!). The Cybermen use a ‘short silver baton-like object’ for a weapon, rather than the cumbersome lamps hooked onto their chest units as on screen. The Cyberleader from the second wave has a ‘black impassive mask’ (similar to Revenge of the Cybermen and Doctor Who and the Cybermen), The regeneration scene is so different that it upset some fan reviewers at the time.

Cover: Chris Achilleos makes up for the monochrome Cybermen and snowy setting by placing them in front of a vivid aurora background that’s really thrilling. There’s also an illustration on the rear cover of a Cyberman firing a blast from its headlamp (something that doesn’t actually happen in the TV series for 51 years) and a defiant first Doctor inset. The 1993 reprint cover by Alister Pearson is almost symmetrical, with a saggy-looking Cyberman on each side, the first full-face shot of a Cyberman from the cliffhanger of episode 1 and a mid-length portrait of Hartnell from The Celestial Toymaker. It’s very tidy but not that dramatic, sadly.

Final Analysis: Davis handles the Doctor’s departure much better than circumstances allowed in the TV production (where Hartnell’s illness led to him missing episode 3 with just a few days’ notice). He seeds the Doctor’s illness and frailty beautifully. 

Was it Ben’s imagination, or had the Doctor’s hair gone a shade whiter and finer during the last few hours? His skin, which looked as transparent as old parchment, was stretched tightly over his prominent cheek bones.

I have to note the use of outdated terms to describe a couple of black characters (Williams is described as ‘a tall, handsome American negro of about thirty’), while also commending that the characters were there in the first place at a time where multicultural casting was still rare. Whether this was originally scripted or down to the casting by director Derek Martinus is another matter.

The slow, steady breakdown of Cutler as he struggles with the pressure of his son’s peril helps to elevate the later chapters from the absence of the Cybermen. But having built up the Doctor’s demise so subtly throughout the book, it’s surprising that the actual change happens out of sight of Ben and Polly. Emerging from a sarcophagus in the control room, the old Doctor has disappeared and in his place is a much younger man:

The stranger looked at him in slight surprise. ‘You ask me that, Ben? Don’t you recognise me?’
The Doctor’s two companions shook their heads.
‘I thought it was quite obvious,’ Again, he smiled his gently mocking smile and winked at them with his bluegreen eyes. ‘Allow me to introduce myself then. I am the new Doctor!’

Chapter 18. Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster (1976)

aka Doctor Who – Terror of the Zygons (1993)

Synopsis: Oil rigs are being attacked off the coast of Scotland and the Brigadier summons the Doctor to help out. As the Doctor goes on a monster hunt, Harry and Sarah find something sinister under Loch Ness.

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Death from the Sea
  • 2. Murder on the Shore
  • 3. The Zygons Attack
  • 4. A Trap for the Doctor
  • 5. The Sleeping Village
  • 6. The Monster on the Moor
  • 7. Hunt for a Zygon
  • 8. A Visit to the Duke
  • 9. The Secret of Forgill Castle
  • 10. Plan for Conquest
  • 11. Escape!
  • 12. Monster in the Thames

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts Robert Banks Stewart’s scripts for the 1975 serial Terror of the Zygons.

Notes: During the attack on the Bonnie Prince Charlie rig, we’re told that the radio operator’s name is ‘Jock Munro’. We get the scene deleted from the TV broadcast of the TARDIS outer shell disappearing after it lands and a brief bit of chatter with the Duke where Sarah, sat in the back of his landrover, discovers a stuffed stag’s head under a tarpaulin. UNIT Corporal Palmer makes a reappearance (he’s an unnamed corporal in the TV episodes). The Zygon that Sarah first encounters is ‘a squat, powerful figure about the size of a small man:

Orange-green in colour, it had small, claw-like hands and feet. There was no neck: the big high-domed head seemed to grow directly from the bulbous torso. The face was terrifyingly alien, with huge, malevolent green eyes and a small, puckered mouth. A row of protuberances ran down its back. The really horrible thing about the creature was that it seemed to be a parody of the human form. It looked like a grotesque, evil baby.

Once Sarah and the Doctor are trapped in the decompresison chamber, the Zygon formerly known as Sister Lamont uses a comunications device to inform Broton (with ‘a note of gloating triumph in its voice’) that ‘The Doctor and the human female will soon be dead’. The Doctor’s encounter with the Skarasen on Tulloch Moor takes place at night. Although this is almost seen on telly, it’s made much clearer that zygons can sting when in their ‘proper form’, either to hurt or fatally wound (and they do both here – Angus is kiled while Harry and the Doctor are only stunned). The Brigadier and Sarah add sugar and milk to The Fox Inn’s porridge but the Doctor has it with salt, a taste he acquired ‘during the Jacobite rebellion’. Although Madra, the Zygon who impersonates Harry, is named, the one who poses as Sister Lamont is not (she’s something that sounds like ‘Orla’ on TV). Oh and the Prime Minister who the Brigadier speaks to is identified as male.

Cover & Illustrations: It’s frustrating because in my mind, the artwork I want to see was that Radio Times piece by Frank Bellamy. This one’s okay, with the Skarasen looking fierce and the Zygon leaning into the centre, but the Doctor likeness reminds me too much of Eric Idle and the background is a little Looney Tunes. I much prefer the Alister Pearson 1993 reprint where Broton’s face merges with the background, a sombre Doctor looks very smart in his Scottish get-up and the Sister Lamont Zygon (going on the publicity photo it references) stands full-length.

Final Analysis: Broton appears more of a frustrated administrator in this version, furious at his subordinates. Dicks’s description of a Zygon as ‘a grotesque, evil baby’ is spot on although he insists on describing a ‘claw-shaped hand’ that’s a lot less enticing than what we actually see on TV. Bonus points for explaining that Zygons have stings, which is not really clear on screen.

The Zygons are among my earliest memories of the TV show and, as mentioned in this blog’s introduction, this was one of four books I received as a Christmas present in 1980, the first Target books I owned, rather than loaning from the library. 

Chapter 12. Doctor Who and the Cybermen (1975)

Synopsis: The Cybermen tried to invade the Earth once but were ‘humiliatingly defeated’. Their second attempt comes via the Moon, where they are already lying in wait for the perfect moment to attack. As the personnel of the Moonbase fall ill one by one, the Doctor and his friends scramble to find the cause.

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Prologue: The Creation of the Cybermen
  • 2. The Landing on the Moon
  • 3. The Moon Base
  • 4. Attack in the Medical Unit
  • 5. The Space-plague
  • 6. The Doctor Investigates
  • 7. The Cybermen’s Plot
  • 8. The Battle with the Cybermen
  • 9. Victory, perhaps…
  • 10. The March of the Cybermen
  • 11. Into Battle with the Gravitron!

Background: Gerry Davis adapts the scripts he co-wrote with Kit Pedlar for the 1967 serial The Moonbase.

Notes: We begin with a prologue that’s a potted history of the Cybermen that (in line with later stories but contradicting The Tenth Planet) states that the Cybermen come from Telos. Later on, when discussing Mondas, the Cybermen say they come from ‘the other Cyberman planet, TELOS’. Ben and Polly are from the 1970s now, so they’re familiar with the Apollo Moon landings, although Davis seems to think Ben is still wearing his sailor’s uniform and Polly is in a mini-skirt and tee-shirt. Oh and Jamie is tagged as ‘a little thick, even by 1745 standards’, which seems hugely unfair. There’s a Cyberman with a red line down the front of his chest unit, which Davis draws attention to but doesn’t elaborate on, and a couple of others with black helmets similar to those seen in Revenge of the Cybermen, who have names (as in The Tenth Planet).

Cover & Illustrations: Chris Achilleos painted the original cover using a Troughton pic from The Three Doctors and a Cybermen from The Invasion. I had the 1981 reprint with the cover by Bill Donohoe that appears to depict the Cyber-space walk from the end of The Wheel in Space. Illustrations by Alan Willow show the correct Moonbase Cybermen, and the best pic is of Ralph, the Moonbase crewman, staring in horror as (the caption explains) ‘the shadow of a large figure’ looms over him.

Final Analysis: It’s nice when the originators of a story get to give us their version. Davis largely sticks to the story as televised, but he really goes to town with a nautical theme with chapter two’s description of the TARDIS’s dramatic journey to the Moon (‘Like a ship in a heavy sea,’)  including a reference to the TARDIS ‘cabin’, ‘bulkheads’ and ‘deck’. In the prologue there’s a line that ‘although revenge was not a part of their mental makeup any more than the other emotions,’ which I suspect was pushing against Davis’s recent experience with Robert Holmes changing his title (and most of the script) for Tom Baker’s Cyberman adventure.

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.