Chapter 159. Doctor Who – The TV Movie (2021)

Synopsis: En route to Gallifrey with the remains of his enemy, the Master, the Doctor lands in San Francisco and is promptly shot by a gang of youths. Grace, a talented surgeon, tries to save his life, but is confused by the Doctor’s alien biology and he dies. Put on suspension by her superiors, Grace tries to come to terms with her mistake, only for a strange man to come into her life, a man who claims to be the reincarnation of her lost patient. The Master has also found a way to cheat death and his plans threaten the stability of the entire planet. It’s New Year’s Eve, 1999 – and it’s about time…

Chapter Titles

  • Out with the old
  • … in with the new
  • One for sorrow, two for joy
  • Three for a girl
  • Four for a boy
  • Five for silver
  • Six for gold
  • Seven for a secret never to be told

Background: Gary Russell amends his own novelisation, first published in 1996, based on scripts from the film broadcast the same year. It’s the 2021 version I’m reviewing here.

Notes: Bored from travelling alone,  the Doctor has reconfigured the TARDIS many times in the last few months. The side-rooms around the console room match the specific panels of the console: Opposite the ‘data-bank switches’ is the TARDIS library containing shelves crammed with both antique and modern books; the space/time destination panel faces a wall with ‘every conceivable form of timepiece’; the panel that measures external atmospheric conditions is opposite a garden containing a tiny fish pond full of ‘rainbow gumblejacks’ [see The Two Doctors]; another wall contains a huge a filing cabinet with references in 843 different languages and drawers full  memorabilia collected on his travels. The garden also features a pipe organ that he borrowed at some point from the church in his favourite English village, Cheldon Bonniface [see the New Adventure novel Timewyrm: Revelation]. Although he’s denied his heritage for most of his life, he feels he should at least acknowledge it, which is why the TARDIS now has  seals of Rassilon everywhere

He thinks of Ace, imagining her in various possible scenarios that were depicted in the Virgin novels: Becoming a space mercenary; hanging out in a 19th-Century royal court in France; he remembers offering her the chance to enrol at the Time Lord Academy but instead she returned to her own time to set up an organisation called A Charitable Earth [see The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Death of the Doctor]. He also remembers the Cybermen and the Lobri [from the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip Ground Zero, which offered a further alternative conclusion to Ace’s adventures].

The Time Lord president contacts the Doctor to bring him the Master’s Last Will and Testament and although it’s not spelled out, this is Romana, as established in the Big Finish audios produced by Gary Russell. The Doctor and the Master grew up together and attended the Time Lord Academy at the same time. The Master has prolonged his life by adding ‘alien genes’ to his body. The Master’s execution is overseen by the Dalek Supreme. The Doctor sneaks into the Dalek city on Skaro to retrieve the Master’s ashes. Inside the casket, the Master’s remains are crystalline, the vague suggestion of his eyes preserved. The Doctor realises that his enemy has cheated death by becoming a completely alien lifeform, which buries itself deep in the TARDIS’s systems, and by now the Master must be ‘completely insane’. We’re later told that the Master’s survival is thanks to a ‘Morphic DNA carrier’ that he ingested prior to his extermination and which carries his essence while hunting for an appropriate humanoid form to possess.

Chang Lee first handled a gun eight years ago, when he was nine years old. He lives with his parents, who used to run a shop in the Bay area of San Francisco, and his elder brother, Ho. When the Triads took over their neighbourhood, Chang Ho fell under their influence and began using the shop as a front for money laundering and drug distribution. His parents were killed by a rival gang and Chang Lee found himself drawn into his brother’s activities; Chang Ho was stabbed to death three years ago. A couple of days before the Millennium celebrations, Lee and his two gangmates, a girl called Pik Sim and an older boy called Lin Wang, are being chased by a rival gang.  Chang Lee’s companions are shot dead before the TARDIS arrives [which might be news to anyone who has only ever seen the original, censored UK broadcast]. The new arrival is a ‘Westerner’ wearing a straw hat and ‘checkerboard pants’, with a tweed sports jacket that has leather patches on the elbows, an ‘expensive white silk shirt’ with felt tie, and a ‘burgundy vest’ from which hangs a gold fob-watch; he is carrying a red handled umbrella when he emerges from the TARDIS. The amorphous form of the Master discounts Chang Lee as a potential host as he needs something more ‘mature’ – preferably the Doctor! As a temporary measure, the Master takes control of an ambulance Driver called Bruce Gerhardt.

Grace Holloway has to explain the plot of Madame Butterfly to Brian. She’s said to resemble the actress Grace Kelly, has a ‘luscious cascade of strawberry-blonde hair’ and a figure that ‘most modern actresses would have had to pay a small fortune to have implanted’:

… her face might well have been carved from a marble statue of a Greek goddess. Although not in any way harsh, she had a defined bone structure along with a generous mouth and piercing blue eyes which appeared to be laughing, no matter how serious she was being.

Grace recognises the Scottish accent of her patient and guesses that he might not have insurance – but the presence of the hospital administrator with potential investors drives her to push on with the exploratory procedure that ends up killing the Doctor. On the TV in the mortuary is a ‘cheesy’ Frankenstein movie (but as the scene is told from the point of view of Pete, this is less a damning review of the 1931 James Whale version than a critique of Pete).

Bruce and Miranda Gerhardt have been married for five years. Bruce had been recovering from a recent divorce when he first met Miranda, who he’d accompanied to hospital after a car accident. After her recovery, they struck up a friendship and Miranda discovered he was ‘kind, sincere and attentive… the perfect man’. The new Doctor is ‘much taller’ than his predecessor [continuing a suggestion that ran in the New Adventures that the Eighth Doctor is tall, even if the actor who played him is not]. He finds his old clothes (recognising that they’ll no longer fit him) and experiences a sensation of memory when he picks up the straw hat. He steals items from various lockers to create his new outfit, comprising a wing-collared shirt and grey velvet cravat with a gold pin, a silvery vest, grey trousers and a long tailed ‘forest green’ frock coat that comes from the ‘Wild Bill Hickock’ costume that Pete’s colleague Ted has hired for the New Year’s Eve fancy dress party.

Grace looked at him. He was in his mid-thirties, at a guess. He had rather sad-looking eyes, yet they were bright blue and quite attractive – she was sure the left eye was a darker shade than the right. He had a nice bone structure and a wonderful smile, showing a full set of good teeth. He was about her height, but with swept back hair that looked as if he’d licked his fingers and jammed them into a light socket.

Grace thinks he looks like he’s stepped out of a ‘Victorian movie’. This volume’s mild swear-count includes Grace saying ‘damn’ and ‘crap’. Grace decided to become a doctor when she was a child, after her mother died from ALS and she experiences a flashback to that day thanks to the Doctor. After showering, she changes into blue Levi jeans, a ‘cerise Versace Profuni blouse’ and a pair of Doc Martens shoes. The Doctor remembers spending a ‘warm Gallifreyan night’; with his father; they lived on the south side of Gallifrey (a place that sounds Celtic to Grace, and later to Dr Sullivan, who both assume it’s in Ireland), near a mountain that was ‘covered with the most beautiful daisies’ and ‘the sky was burnt orange, rich and beautiful and the moonlight made all the leaves glow silver’. [referencing details from The Sensorites, The Time Monster and a recurring joke that spans from The Hand of Fear through to the Irish illusions in The Timeless Children’]. Chang Lee notices that the Master is ‘over six feet tall and quite muscular’ (Chang Li is ‘five foot eight and wiry’). The Master tells Chang Lee that the bearded old man whose face is carved into various decorations around the cloister room is ‘Rassilon’, the founder of the Time Lords and (he claims) his ‘mentor’; he also spells out that the ornate decoration around the TARDIS is ‘the seal of Rassilon’ and explains that the TARDIS is powered by ‘artron energy’ [see The Deadly Assassin]. The Eye of Harmony shows Chang Lee images of all the past Doctors with descriptions that might be familiar to fans of the Target books: ‘Long silver hair’, ‘a mop of black hair’, a ‘shock of white hair’, ‘beaky nose’, ‘brown curls and a toothy grin’, ‘a pleasant, open countenance’, and eyes that are ‘cat-like’ with an ‘insatiable curiosity’. 

When he impulsively kisses Grace, the Doctor feels a little embarrassed while Grace feels confused and, caught up in the moment, suggests they do it again but (as in the original novel) the Doctor tells her they don’t have time and Grace is left wondering what prompted her to kiss a man who she doesn’t know. Returning to Grace’s apartment, the Doctor meets one of her neighbours, a cat-owner called Mrs Trattorio. Bruce’s paramedic partner is called ‘Joey Sneller’. One of the reporters for San Francisco’s KKBE news station is ‘Sean Ley’ (a tribute to ‘Shaun Ley’, who acted in the fan-produced audio dramas that Gary Russell used to make, but later became a journalist and news anchor on BBC News). One of the security guards at the New Year’s Eve party is David Bailey – named after the Big Finish author, not the famous photographer. The officers called to investigate Miranda Gerhardt’s death are named after Rona Selby and Nuala Buffini from BBC Books.

The Doctor tells Grace that he has a granddaughter who he intends to get back to one day [see The Dalek Invasion of Earth and then The Five Doctors for how that played out]. The Master explains that the Time Lords added a security element to the Eye of Harmony, requiring it to be unlocked by a human retina to prevent it from being opened, as they assumed none of their number would ever travel with a human. The Doctor points out that the Master cannot use Grace to open the Eye of Harmony when her own eyes are in a possessed state

During the climax, throughout the TARDIS, Grace can hear the peeling of a bell, which is identified as the Cloister Bell [see Logopolis]. The violent lurching of the TARDIS results in one significant casualty – the eagle on the lectern that has been a feature of the TARDIS since before An Unearthly Child, is snapped off.

As the Master begins to absorb the Doctor’s life energy, both his clothes and the body of Bruce fall away from him, leaving him in the form of a silhouette glowing with the energy of the universe, ‘a brilliant white figure of a man, but with no defined edges within its shape’. The face is ‘lumpy, unmade’ with ‘half-closed eyes and a snarling mouth’. 

Having kept his old straw hat rolled up in his pocket since he escaped from the hospital, he presents the hat to Grace as a gift. 

Cover: Anthony Dry’s cover brings together the Doctor, the Master and the TARDIS.

Final Analysis: As he explains in his forward, Gary’s original novel, released to tie in with the movie’s broadcast, was written solely from the scripts and before Gary had either seen the movie or visited San Francisco. Many details were removed from his manuscript for space, or because they referenced the Doctor’s past lives (earlier drafts of the script had included a sequence where all of the past Doctors were shown in the Eye of Harmony, not just the Seventh). Rewritten and published under the Target banner 25 years later, we can enjoy those many ‘kisses to the past’, including acknowledgements of the Virgin Books, which came to an end soon after the TV Movie was broadcast, after which the original novels were brought in house to BBC Books. In the Terrance Dicks tradition, Gary tidies up a few lose strands, such as making it explicit that Chang Lee was ‘mesmerised’, working under the Master’s hypnosis. Most importantly though, he fixes that ending, which was always a little unsatisfying and a bit of a cheat on TV.

There’s one extra detail that’s of a personal interest. Although she knows she’s made the right decision at the end, Grace wonders if she’s now the founder member of the ‘Grace Holloway is Stupid Club’; she’s not – that would be novelist Jacqueline Rayner, who founded that particular group soon after the TV Movie first aired. A good-natured and light-hearted affair, Its members (who all had actual membership cards) included Gary Russell and er… me!

Chapter 154. Doctor Who – The Power of the Daleks (1993)

Synopsis: The Doctor is gone and a new man stands in his place. Polly suspects this person is the Doctor in a new form, but this is something Ben cannot accept. The TARDIS lands near a colony on the planet Vulcan, where the Doctor assumes the role of an investigator to help solve a murder. Instead, he discovers a nasty surprise – the colony has been infiltrated by Daleks. But none of the colonists will believe that the beings are evil, especially when all they want to do is serve the humans. Even the Doctor cannot imagine the scale of the Daleks’ deception as they work in secret to mass-produce more of their kind and take over the colony…

Chapter Titles

  • Prologue
  • 1. We Must Get Back to the TARDIS
  • 2. It’s Beginning to Work Again
  • 3. I Think We’ll Make Some Changes
  • 4. So You’ve Come At Last
  • 5. They’re Not Going to Stop Me Working on the Capsule
  • 6. Why Have You Come to Vulcan?
  • 7. Alien? Yes – Very Alien
  • 8. Nothing Human, No
  • 9. You Don’t Half Make Mountains
  • 10. Plenty of Nuts
  • 11. They’ll be too Frightened to do Anything Else
  • 12. It’s Watching Me, Lesterson
  • 13. What Have you Done, Lesterson?
  • 14. I Obey
  • 15. You’ve Done Nothing But Meddle
  • 16. Keep Her in a Safe Place
  • 17. When I Say Run. Run Like a Rabbit
  • 18. Insanity
  • 19. These Things Are Just Machines
  • 20. We Want No Accidents
  • 21. The Doctor Was Right
  • 22. I’m Going to Wipe Out the Daleks
  • 23. I Can’t Stop Them
  • 24. The People Will Do Exactly as They Are Told
  • 25. Every One Must Be Killed
  • 26. You Have to Admire Them
  • 27. The Law of the Daleks is in Force
  • Epilogue
  • Author’s Note

Even with the author’s note, it’s not quite enough to beat Delta and the Bannermen‘s record for the most number of chapters in a novelisation.

Background: John Peel adapts the scripts from David Whitaker’s 1966 story, published by Virgin as a continuation of the Doctor Who novels range. At 26 years and seven months, this is now the holder of the record for biggest gap between broadcast and novelisation. It’s also the longest novelisation to date, with 256 pages, beating the previous record-holder, Fury from the Deep.

Notes: The story opens at the end of The Tenth Planet with Lieutenant Benton leading a team from ‘the English division of UNIT’ [so either he came out of retirement, or the Brigadier’s story about him becoming a second-hand car salesman in Mawdryn Undead was perhaps an official cover story]. UNIT comes with a scientific team headed up by Professor Allison Williams [Remembrance of the Daleks]. The operation was later summarised by Sarah Jane Smith, UNIT’s ‘official chronicler’, who described the contents of the cyber space ship as ‘The Aladdin’s lamp of applied technology’; as it turns out, that technology provides the means for Earth’s expansion beyond the stars and the Cybermen invasion was ‘both the greatest disaster and most astonishing blessing ever to have happened to the human race’.

The second chapter adapts the conclusion to The Tenth Planet. Ben Jackson spent his teens ‘barely keeping on the right side of the law’ (and he later tells Polly that he grew up opposite a brewery) before he joined the Navy. He’d read HG Wells’ The Time Machine prior to meeting the Doctor and since stepping aboard the The TARDIS he’s been to 17th-Century Cornwall and now 30 years into Earth’s future [in line with Gerry Davis”s Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet, Peel sets the arrival of Mondas in the 1990s]. He appreciates that Polly isn’t a snob. 

The Doctor is ‘tall, thin, with a pinched face and expression to match’. He has a ‘sergeant-major pay-attention-to-me-you-‘orrible-little-man voice’.  Inside the TARDIS, a ‘large octagonal device’ descends from the ceiling (neatly explaining why the similar hexagonal ceiling decoration is seen so infrequently after its appearance in An Unearthly Child). As the old Doctor begins to change, Ben wonders if he’ll crumble, like the Cybermen, or ‘like Christopher Lee did in those Dracula films’ (Lee’s cycle of Dracula movies for Hammer had begun in 1958 with Dracula, followed in 1966 with Dracula: Prince of Darkness)

 The new Doctor’s skin is ‘no longer pale and transparent, but almost tanned and thicker’ and instead of the silver mane, he has ‘a shock of jet-black hair’. Ben notes that he’s not only changed his face but ‘his tailor as well’:

The battered black coat and trousers were different. They were now a loose, stain-covered black jacket several sizes too large for the small man who wore it. The trousers were yellow, with a large chequered pattern on them. He wore a faded shirt with a very large bow tie that seemed to have been tied by a blind man in a rush to be somewhere else.

The renewal has left the new Doctor in ‘agony’ with ‘a burning sensation inside all of his bones’ and his new muscles and tissues are ‘filled with pain’. He senses the ringing of a ‘Cloister Bell’ but can’t remember where he heard it [see Logopolis]. He checks his pulses (plural) and notes they’re ‘quite far apart’. He tells Polly that the renewal is a painful process but ignores Ben when he asks if this is the first time he’s done it 

Exploring the chest in the TARDIS wardrobe room, the Doctor finds the gift from Saladin as well as a broach from the Aztec Cameca. The piece of metal, which prompts him to remember ‘extermination’ on TV, was found by his granddaughter Susan on their one visit to Skaro. Trying to explain his renewal in simpler terms, he challenges Ben to summarise his understanding of the mechanics of time travel and asks Polly to rationalise the dimensions of the TARDIS. He tells them that he left his home planet over 750 years ago. The Doctor’s old diary is written in High Gallifreyan [see The Five Doctors]. He knows how to measure in kroliks but not where that unit comes from. He considers taking some of the mercury as a supply for the TARDIS fluid links and he’s worried about losing consciousness in the swamp in case the agonising regeneration process starts again.

The capsule was found in the swamp when the colony was still being built; Lesterson ordered that his laboratory be built around the capsule so that it could be studied (this partly explains why Lesterson is unaware that the capsule is so much bigger inside than it appears – and how it happens to be inside a room without hangar-bay doors that it could fit through). The colony’s chief medical officer is Thane, a’ fortyish woman with short cropped blonde hair and a very efficient air’; she’s later revealed to be part of the rebel underground. According to Thane, the colony is wheel-shaped and was established to mine minerals that the ‘home world’ so desperately needs. The colony is only the third to be established and ‘quite a way out’ from the frontier. There are about 8,000 colonists, about a thousand of whom are in the main city. The planet Vulcan is surrounded by a network of satellites, each one with the power to ‘punch holes through the sub-ether’ and contact Earth with a minimal delay. The time travellers notice that the colony doesn’t appear to be affiliated to any one nation – there are no UK or US flags – and later Polly learns from Dr Thane that it’s funded by the International Mining Corporation [sic – see Colony in Space for what IMC originally stood for]. 

After the Doctor uses the piece of metal from Skaro to open the capsule, Polly asks him if the Daleks destroyed his home planet. He doesn’t think so, as he remembers leaving with Susan;  he tries to recall where his granddaughter is now, knowing only that it’s something else to do with Daleks. The old Doctor had mentioned his greatest enemy to his young companions before and Ben knows that they will invade Earth at some point in the future. Valmar sided with the rebels when he was demoted by Governor Hensell after an accident that killed four people. Lesterson asks the Doctor to help him and the Doctor says the best help he could offer would be to shoot him in the head. 

The Dalek mutant is more detailed than the shapeless blob seen on screen (as far as we can tell from the surviving off-air photos), possibly inspired by Ray Cusick’s unused designs for the mutant’s first appearance in The Daleks:

The thing was a writhing mass of tentacles, a bilious green in colour. Two of these limbs ended in bird-like claws that flexed and clicked. Some kind of slime enveloped the sickening bundle. It was pulsing slowly but regularly. Lesterson realized instantly that this, this whatever-it-was, was alive.

In the final showdown, it takes Valmar three shots to kill Bragan – the final one is to the head.

Cover: Alister Pearson’s cover art is working around a new template – the ‘Slatter-Anderson’ design similar to the one used on Virgin’s ‘Missing Adventures’ range. It’s a strange affair, a stunning portrait of the new Doctor in his Paris Beau hat (we all know it’s not a stovepipe now, don’t we?), which merges into a Dalek with two silhouettes echoing backwards, surrounded by electrical sparks. To the right lies the TARDIS, standing in a Vulcan swamp.

Final Analysis: At last! Thanks to his connections to Terry Nation and some frankly miraculous archiving on the part of David Whitaker’s widow, June Barry, John Peel gets to adapt the remaining Troughton Dalek stories. We’ve come a long, long way since the days of Whitaker’s own adaptations, written with a mass-market child audience in mind; these final entries were very much for the aging completist fans. 

Peel had already put some effort into ensuring his novels drew from wider references than just the individual scripts, creating a more cohesive universe where the Daleks view the Doctor as an ever-increasing threat and tararium is an essential mineral beyond The Daleks’ Master Plan. We’ll see more of this next time, but here the story is self-contained with few links to Dalek continuity. Instead, Peel looks to the end of The Tenth Planet, linking the events to UNIT, Counter Measures and Sarah Jane Smith. The references might feel gratuitous (the term ‘fanwank’ was growing in popularity around this time, personal tastes dictating whether it was meant to be abuse or celebration), but I’m not sure it is – certainly not as sure as I was when I first read the book in 1993.

Unlike David Whitaker – who was writing without any knowledge that the books or even the TV show that inspired them would have any kind of longevity – Peel has the benefit of hindsight; he knows these books are likely to be the closing chapters to the story, at least as far as Target’s readership is concerned. His references add to the wider universe (Benton lives!) while creating a really intelligent connection between two adjacent stories novelised decades apart. Just as we read An Unearthly Child knowing that Old Mother’s prophecy that ‘fire will kill us all’ would be echoed in the radioactive wastelands of Skaro, so the Earth’s ‘first contact’ with an alien invader leads to humanity’s expansion across the universe in colonies such as the one we encounter in Vulcan. Similarly, the discovery that the colony is run by IMC means nothing to Polly, but its connection to Colony in Space on TV (novelised as Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon) helps to explain why there’s a rebellion in the first place and add a greater level of jeopardy without spending pages detailing mining rights and the kind of ground already handled by Malcolm Hulke in his own novelisation, published 19 years earlier.

A couple of other items of note. The addition of Thane means that Janley isn’t the colony’s only prominent female (on TV she’s the Smurfette of Vulcan), but it also gives us a more balanced view of the rebellion. We know that the Governor is vain, lazy and self-serving, but on screen the rebels are fanatics, whereas here, they’re individuals motivated by wide-ranging concerns. They criticise the lack of support from IMC, the poor leadership from Governor Hensell and the stresses that come with a new colony on the frontier of known space; they also reveal more selfish desires – greed, lust, pride – which Bragen and Janley exploit to their cost.

Writing for a much older audience now, Peel is able to introduce a little violence, including one of the most graphic scenes to date, the death of Bragen: 

Bragen choked on his own blood and staggered forwards. Then his heart gave a final spasm. Valmar’s third bullet went through his brain, killing him instantly.

It’s not one of Ian Marter’s bubbling-pus corpses, but it comes suddenly and is so matter-of-fact that Peel doesn’t need to overdo it – it’s sufficiently shocking. Though the departure of the Doctor and his friends is just as abrupt as on TV, we’re given some reassurance as the new Doctor recalls that Vulcan eventually grows into something of a paradise:

The surface of Vulcan was unchanged. One day, the Doctor knew, the humans would remake the world. The bleakness would vanish under a canopy of green. The colony would become just the first of many cities. The humans would thrive. 

Chapter 127. Doctor Who – Time and the Rani (1988)

Synopsis: The Doctor has regenerated after an accident in his TARDIS, and his enemy the Rani is exploiting his post-regenerative confusion to gain his assistance with one of her experiments. As Mel explores the planet Lakertya and encounters the bat-like Tetraps, the Doctor seems to have forgotten something… who is he?

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Regeneration
  • 2. The New Doctor
  • 3. Death is Sprung
  • 4. Identity Crisis
  • 5. Collaborators All
  • 6. On With The Fray
  • 7. Haute Couture
  • 8. Visions of Greatness
  • 9. Face To Face
  • 10. A Kangaroo Never Forgets
  • 11. When Strangers Meet
  • 12. ‘You Know, Don’t You!’
  • 13. Rendezvous With a Tetrap
  • 14. The Centre of Leisure
  • 15. Exchange Is A Robbery
  • 16. The Twelfth Genius
  • 17. Selective Retribution
  • 18. Too Many Cooks
  • 19. Star Struck!
  • 20. Holy Grail
  • 21. A Dangerous Break
  • 22. Countdown
  • 23. Goodbye Lakertya

Background: Pip and Jane Baker adapt their own scripts for a story from 1987.

Notes: The opening chapter is a gift – the final scene featuring the sixth Doctor. As Mel is exercising, the Doctor finds he can’t control the TARDIS. There’s mention of the Hostile Action Displacement System [see The Krotons], which the Doctor has forgotten to set. His regeneration seems to be caused when he falls head first against the TARDIS console. Or ‘tumultuous buffering’ as the authors have it.

Lakertyans still have the remnants of tails under their clothes. They have yellow skin and patches of mother-of-pearl-like scales on their arms and face. The Rani is a ‘Time Lady’ who, we’re told, the Doctor considers to be ‘more brilliant than himself’. As well as Einstein, the Rani’s collection of genii includes Charles Darwin, the physicist Niels Bohr and Louis Pasteur as well as figures from other planets such as Za Panato and Ari Centos. While the previous Doctor was six feet tall, the new one has to get used to being five feet six, hence all the falling about. He studied thermodynamics at university while the Rani specialised in chemistry. Unlike the Doctor, the Rani has never regenerated, having led a life of extreme caution. She escaped the predicament of a Tyrannosaurus Rex rapidly growing to full size due to time spillage in her own TARDIS when the creature grew too big and its spine snapped against the ceiling of the TARDIS [see Mark of the Rani].

Mel went to school in Pease Pottage, Sussex (it’s not just where she lived when she met the Doctor, she grew up there) and she once played the third witch in a production of Macbeth. As she confronts the stranger who is the new Doctor, she improvises a weapon with an acetylene torch; the Doctor uses a stool as a shield, until the seat catches fire. Later, the Doctor steps aside as a Tetrap falls into a bubble trap (on TV, he actively pushes it). He uses a penknife to release himself from the Rani’s cabinet. A Tetrap steps on a phial that Mel has dropped, accidentally smashing it and releasing a rapid-action fungus that engulfs the creature and suffocates it. At university, the Doctor and the Rani had enjoyed ‘many an academic battle of wits’ in debates. Instead of dismantling an ornamental decoration, Ikona pulls some cable from a videogame and hands it to Mel to strip for wire. When she’s finally captured by the Tetraps, the Rani is suspended upside down from the ceiling of her TARDIS.

Cover: A final photographic cover and it’s one that actually shows something interesting from the story – namely the Tetraps hanging upside down (a publicity release with an early rejected cover used the neon logo and artwork by Tony Masero of the Tetrap lair, but printed the wrong way up, to show the Tetraps, er, not upside-down). We have the introduction of the Oliver Elms logo. Alister Pearson painted a much more traditional cover for the 1991 reprint, with the Rani, a Tetrap, the new Doctor, the planet Lakertya, the space brain and a lump of strange matter all jostling for space. 

Final Analysis: A huge improvement on Terror of the Vervoids, this novelisation is less giddy and much less overwritten. A good job, as it has one of the most insane plots of any Who adventure (and I have always utterly adored it). While the Bakers used lots of words to create their Vervoids on the page, the description still didn’t successfully build a mental picture of what it was supposed to look like (a difficult task without saying ‘a mash of genitals’!). The summary of the Tetrap follows the slow build to what we saw on TV – multiple points of vision, the odd claw or foot – before the final reveal as Urak jumps out and surprises Mel:

The vulpine, rodent-like face was covered with a gangrenous, oily down. Splayed, moist nostrils and thin sucking lips were dominated by a single luminous eye that glared unblinkingly from beneath a cockscomb of bristle. The veined, bloodshot orb had an enlarged pupil with a green halo.

As if this did not create an ugly enough apparition, above each delicately pointed pink ear, a similar eye bulged.

A fourth eye adorned the back of the Tetrap’s skull. These four eyes were the reason for the three hundred and sixty degree perspective: the quadview.

A predatory grimace exposed razor-sharp cuspids as the repulsive half-ape-half-rat leered at Mel. Then a venomous forked tongue spat at her!

That isn’t to say the authors are not at their verbose best, just that it’s a lot easier to absorb this time. The decision to make the alien language of Tetrapyriarban just… English backwards is hilariously dumb though. Especially when, having come up with this idea, they then explain it. Madness! Similarly, the miraculous substance the Rani seeks is called ‘Loyhargil’, a fact revealed in a chapter called ‘Holy Grail’. Haha – marvellous.

Chapter 103. Doctor Who – The Twin Dilemma (1986)

Synopsis: Peri has just witnessed her new friend die and be replaced by a completely different man. Unstable after the trauma of regeneration, this new Doctor is loud, violent and self-obsessed – and Peri is terrified of him. Deciding to become a hermit on a barren moon, the Doctor instead becomes entangled in a policeman’s investigation into the kidnapping of hyper-intelligent twins. The culprit is someone the Doctor once knew, but is now enslaved by a megalomaniacal slug with mind-boggling ambitions.

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Home Time
  • 2. The Maladjusted Time Lord
  • 3. Enter Professor Edgeworth
  • 4. Mestor the Magnificent
  • 5. Titan Three
  • 6. An Unsafe Safe House
  • 7. The Reunion
  • 8. Jaconda, the Beautiful!
  • 9. End Game, Part One
  • 10. End Game, Part Two

Background: Eric Saward adapts the scripts by Anthony Steven for a 1984 serial.

Notes: Professor Archie Sylvest is a university lecturer who lives with his wife, Nimo, and their 12-year-old twin sons live at 25 Lydall Street, the only Georgian terrace left standing in a metropolis of ‘mirror-smooth’ and ‘flameproof, plastic buildings’. He has an android babysitter for the boys, which he knows they hate. Sylvest is scared of his children, something the boys exploit. He takes solace in harbouring murderous thoughts towards them (a strategy suggested by his therapist to help suppress his fears) while drinking too much Voxnic in the company of an attractive computer programmer called Vestal Smith. When Sylvest returns home drunk and discovers his sons’ disappearance, his concern is less that they might have been hurt and more that they might be used in some nefarious scheme or other.

The Time Lord process of regeneration is the work of a hormone called ‘lindos’, which works at lightning speed to repair every cell in the Time Lord body. An illustration of regeneration’s random nature comes in the story of Councillor Verne, whose stunning beauty distracted his peers from his unsuitability to office; his subsequent regenerations saw him grow increasingly unattractive until he became a ‘hideous monster’ who so distressed the then-Lord President that he ordered the Verne creature to be destroyed.

The new Doctor initially misunderstands Peri’s distress, but then apologises to her as he realises how terrified she must be. Peri is relieved and reassured – until she sees his new costume:

… each panel of the coat was quite different in texture, design and colour. This wouldn’t have mattered quite so much if the colours had blended, but they seemed to be cruelly, harshly, viciously at odds with each other. In fact, the coat was so gawdy it would have looked out of place on the back of a circus clown…. The whole ensemble was finished off with a waistcoast which looked as though someone had been sick on. (For all Peri knew, someone had.) The final touch was a livid green watch chain that at some time must have been stolen from a public lavatory.

Delightful! As she fights off the Doctor’s frenzied attack, Peri grabs the mirror in the hope of smashing it to use as a weapon against him.

The personal history of Professor Bernard Edgeworth – aka the Time Lord Azmael – is recounted: Like the Doctor, Azmael grew tired of life among the Time Lords and chose to retire; unlike the Doctor, the High Council decided Azmael was too dangerous to be allowed to escape their control and chose instead to kill him; they despatched ‘Seedle Warriors’ to assassinate him, only for the bloodthirsty squad to massacre the inhabitants of Vitrol Minor, where Azmael was hiding; Azmael brought legal proceedings against the High Council, who retaliated by framing him for their own crimes; Azmael’s last course of action was to gun down the High Council in their chambers and flee to the planet Jaconda. The specific species of gastropod that lays waste to Jaconda is the Sectoms. We also learn of the history of Titan Three, formerly home to the Mastons of Maston Viva, who fell victim to the generally bleak atmosphere of the planet and committed mass suicide, leaving behind their research equipment for Azmael to find.

‘Mestor the Magnificent’ is nearly two metres tall and considered ugly even by other gastropods. To allow him to stand upright, Mestor has grown two small legs that make him wobble as he walks, and two tiny arms, which serve ‘no particular function’ except to gesticulate as he speaks. 

His face, what there was of it, was humanoid in form. As he did not have a neck, head or shoulders, the features had grown where what would have been the underside of a normal slug’s jaw. As though to add to the peculiarity of a gastropod with a human face, the features were covered in a thin membrane.

Peri observes that the Doctor’s delusions lead him to act like Sherlock Holmes, Hern the Hunter (a dig at Doctor Who’s ITV rival Robin of Sherwood?), an explorer called Musk and a country squire. She apparently ‘never even grasped the fundamentals of the microwave oven’. The issue of the time delay with the matter transporter is removed; although Peri dematerialises first, the pair return to the TARDIS at the same time.

The planets that form part of Mestor’s plans are called Muston and Seniel  The Doctor recalls his past companions, including a rather brutal summation of Adric and his ‘childish antics’, a desperation ‘to be loved and accepted for what he was’, which prevented the Doctor (or at least, this incarnation) of ‘ever being able to fully praise, help or ultimately like him’. The Doctor’s first meeting with Mestor is delayed until the climax – their prior conversations conveyed via a hologram link.

Cover: Due to a breakdown in negotiations, an earlier cover showing Colin Baker was rejected (the actor’s agent enquired how much his fee might be for using his likeness and the publisher, misunderstanding the enquiry as a demand for payment, panicked and cancelled the already completed artwork). Andrew Skilleter’s second painting offers up a very green cover featuring a Jacondan, Mestor and some gastropod eggs. The 1993 reprint used Andrew Skilleter’s art for the VHS, again showing a Jacondan and Mestor, but this time joined by the Doctor.

Final Analysis: This is more than just an adaptation; its position in the history of Doctor Who offers us a little insight into events behind the scenes. It was written and published before the increasingly public fall-out between Eric Saward and producer John Nathan-Turner, but the causes of Saward’s dissatisfaction can be seen here in his depiction of the lead character. Even though it’s the post-regenerative monster that he’s writing, and even though he turns the self-serving and cowardly acts into something more whimsical (thinking he’s Sherlock Holmes etc), some of Saward’s negativity is still very much evident. In the final confrontation with Mestor, he frames this Doctor as sounding ‘more like a street bully than a Time Lord negotiating with a creature capable of taking over the universe’ and his pleading with the despot is ‘foolish, almost childish’. The conclusion to the tale is much less confident and reassuring than on TV. Peri even tells the Doctor she just wants to go home.

‘… whatever else happens, I am the new Doctor. This is me whether people like it or not.’

The statement was as bland and as sterile as it sounded.

Peri hoped that she had caught a glimpse of a smile as he uttered it.

If she hadn’t, this particular incarnation of the Time Lord would prove to be a very difficult person indeed.

Hugo Lang is also subject to a character assassination, the dogged and determined police officer becoming a self-serving and ruthlessly opportunistic man who pursues the twins only for personal glory and who decides to stay on Jaconda to extort money from Mestor’s chamberlain.

This is still a diverting read though, as Saward tries hard to make it more entertaining than he managed to make it on screen. As with the fox in The Visitation, Saward once again uses the form of an animal to witness events; the arrival of Azmael’s ship and his kidnapping of the twins goes undetected by anyone on Earth except a ginger cat, who prides himself on knowing what is happening before anyone else and vows to tell nobody about what he’s seen. His telling of the circumstances of Hugo Lang’s crash on Titan Three make for a scene straight out of Star Wars and, as the quote above shows, he succeeds in making Mestor a horrifying and fearsome presence. 

We’re now in the period where authors were encouraged to attempt something other than a straight retelling of the TV show and for many readers, the episodes would still be fresh in the memory. Saward attempts something in the style of Douglas Adams as his narrative regularly drifts off to discuss various tangentially related topics: A mention of Azmael’s revitalising modulator leads to a detailed history of the life and convoluted death of the machine’s inventor, Professor James Zarn, as well as the results of his other great scientific success, involving the Social and Sexual Life of the Veedle Fly; the acid that the Doctor uses to attack Mestor is Moston acid, which ages its victims to death and which is a product of Professor Vinny Mosten, about whom we also discover more than we’d ever hoped; even the floor of Mestor’s chamber, decorated with a celebrated Jacondan mosaic, inspires a further condensed history lecture. Whether or not this is a successful approach is down to personal taste. Personally, I rather enjoyed it, even if I was slightly worried every time a new brand name or invention popped up. Stop trying to make ‘Voxnic’ happen, Eric. It’s not going to happen.

Chapter 93. Doctor Who – The Caves of Androzani (1985)

Synopsis: Troops from Androzani Major are losing in a war against the android soldiers of Sharaz Jek, an arms trader who controls his operations from deep within the catacombs of the twin planet Androzani Minor. Driven by revenge, Jek has a stranglehold over the supply of spectrox, a substance that, when refined, is a much-valued elixir. In its raw state, however, it can be a deadly poison. And both the Doctor and Peri are already suffering from the effects of spectrox toxaemia. Can the Doctor hold off an impending regeneration long enough to rescue Peri and get them both to safety? 

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Androzani Minor Revisited
  • 2. Spectrox War
  • 3. The Execution
  • 4. Sharaz Jek
  • 5. The Escape
  • 6. The Magma Beast
  • 7. Spy!
  • 8. The Boss
  • 9. Crash Down
  • 10. Mud Burst
  • 11. Takeover
  • 12. Change

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts scripts by Robert Holmes for a serial broadcast eight months earlier. This followed Planet of Fire on TV, so that’s another pair of stories to be released consecutively.

Notes: Androzani Major and Minor are two of the five planets that make up the Sirius system. Peri gets her very own Terrance Dicks summary, she’s ‘an attractive American girl, her piquant features framed in short dark hair.’ She considers the Doctor’s interest in everything to be one of his ‘endearing and aggravating characteristics’, which might indicate that they’ve been together for some time, even though soon after she says that the mud of Androzani Major would make ‘a change from lava’, which would suggest this is her first trip since Sarn – or they’ve visited a lot of volcanic locations. We’re shown what happened to Trooper Boze (a scene only recounted on TV in reported speech by the android Salateen) and the reference to ‘Chacaws’ is explained; they’re a ‘fiercely-spiked fruit grown on the penal plantations of Androzani Major’, which leave the chacaw pickers covered in scars.

The Magma Beast is the recipient of this volume’s ‘let’s beef up the monster’ award:

The body resembled that of a giant tortoise, or perhaps an armadillo, though the creature stalked upright on two powerful back legs, like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The massive fanged head was like that of a tyrannosaurus too, though it also bore two ferocious-looking horns. The powerful arms were short and stubby, ending in two enormous claws. As the monster stalked forwards, the massive carapace, at once protection and camouflage, covered the back of its body like an armoured cloak.

When the Doctor finds the beast dead, he surmises that it was caught in a mud burst and ‘either choked or boiled to death’. Sharaz Jek removes his mask to reveal ‘two mad eyes blazing from a face that was no more than a formless blob, a lump of peeling corrugated skin, devoid of all features’. He strangles Morgus until he’s dead (rather than shoving his head into the laser of one of his machines). 

Cover: Andrew Skilleter’s cover shows Sharaz Jex clutching his mask forlornly while an explosion overhead has a blurred and very subtle approximation of the sixth Doctor’s face. A 1992 reprint uses the VHS cover, again by Skilleter, which shows the fifth Doctor, Sharaz Jek (inset), some androids and the twin Androzani planets.

Final Analysis: Terrance Dicks is back, working on his friend Robert Holmes’s most popular story – and doesn’t put a foot wrong. He adds little details to help build upon the societies Holmes created, puts in a few extra bits to bridge gaps – and unlike the omissions by Bidmead in Logopolis, he describes the onscreen visions of the Doctor’s past companions and the Master’s taunting. It’s the idea that the Master might literally get the last laugh that propels him towards choosing to survive. And so, once again, Terrance gets to describe the first moments of a new Doctor:

He had a broad, high forehead and a mop of curly light-brown hair. There was something cat-like about the eyes, a touch of arrogance in the mouth.

Chapter 72. Doctor Who – Logopolis (1982)

Synopsis: A sudden whimsy to reconfigure the TARDIS’s chameleon circuit leads the Doctor to confront a terrifying and certain future. The Master has returned and his new scheme puts the entire universe at risk. Surrounded by companions he didn’t choose and forced to enter a partnership with his oldest enemy, the Doctor has finally reached the end – and it really has been prepared for…

Chapter Titles

The chapters are simply numbered one to twelve. Bidmead could have at least done them in binary!

Background: Christopher H. Bidmead adapts his own scripts from the 1981 story. Making good use of his past life as an actor, he also reads the audiobook, making him the first credited author to do so (although Barry Letts read The Daemons, the scripts were co-written and credited to ‘Guy Leopold).

Notes: The police officer killed by the Master is named Donald Seagrave. The police box he investigates is on the Barnet bypass (not specified on screen). Aunt Vanessa lives in ‘a cottage house in a quiet village-like street’ less than 50 miles from the Barnet bypass.  The Doctor recalls that Romana is ‘at the Gateway with Biroc and the Tharils’ (though we’re not told what this actually means for any reader who didn’t yet catch Warriors’ Gate). Adric is said to have a badge for mathematical excellence, but his ‘grasp of physics wasn’t very good’. As he inspects the real police box, he queries the wording on the telephone hatch:

Adric had seen identical wording on the outside of the TARDIS, and had taken it to be some sort of joke of the Doctor’s. Officers and Cars had never, to his knowledge, responded to Urgent Calls, although there were several occasions when he and the Doctor could have used a little extra help.

This is his first time on Earth, so it’s possible that the only encounters Adric has had with ‘officers’ is Proctor Neman on Traken – that pillar of the community who accepted bribes. The Doctor has cause to recall the recent events on Traken and is reassured that Tremas and his daughter are ‘happy’ but begins to worry that the Master might have escaped. Adric refers to the ‘console room’ (the first time this phrase has been used – it doesn’t even appear in the TV version). 

Tegan is ‘barely twenty years old’. When he sees Tegan on the TARDIS scanner, Adric has a feeling he has known her very well; he observes that her face ‘looked rather beautiful, framed by that dark red hair under the severe purple cap that matched her uniform.’ Tegan’s plane ‘back home’ is a Cesna. 

The TARDIS cloisters have a ceiling with an ’emulation of the sky, even as far as the suggestion of clouds’. The Doctor gives Adric a copy of The Complete Poetry of John Milton and the boy observes a similarity between a fallen angel and the Master. The Doctor hovers the TARDIS above Logopolis to give the Logopolitans advance notice of his arrival. As viewed from above, the City of Logopolis looks like ‘a giant brain’. 

The Master’s (unnamed) weapon is silver and leaves a whiff of ozone after discharge. The Doctor falls from the telescope when the cable he’s hanging from snaps. Adric realises the Doctor is ‘regenerating’, as he and Nyssa confirm their suspicions that the Watcher was the Doctor all along. The new Doctor has a ‘smoother, younger face’ and beams ‘somewhat vacuously’ at his friends. We’re presented with his first words::

‘Well, that’s the end of that,’ said a voice they had not heard before. ‘But it’s probably the beginning of something completely different.’ 

Cover: Andrew Skilleter paints a simple composition of the Master in front of the Pharos project. Alister Pearson’s 1991 cover has the Doctor looking tired, Tegan and Nyssa grinning, leaving the Monitor and Adric to look at the shrinking TARDIS.

Final Analysis: The opening paragraph warns us that…

When some great circumstance, hovering somewhere in the future, is a catastrophe of incalculable consequence, you may not see the signs in the small happenings that go before.

Accordingly, Bidmead progresses to foreshadow events: Tegan is about to embark on a journey that ‘she would never forget for the rest of her life’; Adric hears the cloister bell for ‘the first but not the last time’;  … and so on.

As with The Visitation, there’s no introduction for or description of the Doctor or Adric, but there’s a palpable enthusiasm for showing off Bidmead’s knowledge of modern science, such as Maxwell’s Second Law of Thermodynamics and ‘Mr Heisenberg’. The assumption is that the reader already knows who the Doctor and Adric are (which I’ve grumbled about with other writers), but we at least get a clear idea of the new arrival, Tegan. The best bit is the conclusion of Chapter 5:

Tegan’s voice exploded like a shrapnel-bomb in the quiet of the console room. ‘I demand to see whoever is in charge of this ship.

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 16. Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders (1975)

Synopsis: The Doctor’s adventures come back to haunt him as a stolen gem from Metebelis Three triggers ‘the most dangerous adventure of his life’. The Doctor’s greed for adventure and knowledge is matched by the greed for power of the Eight-Legs and their leader, the Great One. And none of them will survive this one… 

Chapter Titles

  • Prologue: The Mystery of the Crystal
  • 1. The Menace at the Monastery
  • 2. The Deadly Experiment
  • 3. The Coming of the Spider
  • 4. The Chase for the Crystal
  • 5. The Council of the Spiders
  • 6. Arrival on Metebelis Three
  • 7. Prisoner of the Spiders
  • 8. The Doctor Hits Back
  • 9. In the Lair of the Great One
  • 10. Return to Earth
  • 11. The Battle with the Spiders
  • 12. The Last Enemy
  • Epilogue: An End and a Beginning

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts scripts by Robert Sloman (and Barry Letts, uncredited) from 1974.

Notes: Another lovely prologue that I wish we’d seen on TV as Professor Jones and his new bride encounter resistance in their trek across the Amazon forests. Jo Jones, formerly Jo Grant of UNIT, has to ditch a huge blue crystal that the Doctor gave her as a wedding present. There’s a Dr Sweetman working as UNIT’s medical officer today [but see The Giant Robot]. The soldier on guard at UNIT HQ gets a name (Corporal Hodges). We also find out that four of Lupton’s gang were hospitalised with nervous breakdowns, while the Brigadier helps Sarah to get Tommy into university.

Cover: ‘Read the last exciting adventure of DR WHO’s 3rd Incarnation!’ screams the back cover. On the front, Peter Brookes gives us the Doctor reacting to Sarah with the Queen Spider on her back, along with a montage of the Doctor changing face that’s much more dramatic than we get on telly. There are no illustrations inside but there’s one on the back cover of a spider crawling across a mandala. I had the 1978 reprint with an Alun Hood cover depicting a blue crystal and a red-backed tarantula clambering over some rocks. The 1991 reprint with art by Alister Pearson shows a haunted portrait of Pertwee reflected in the blue crystal and another tarantula-like arachnid reared to attack.

The epilogue is called ‘An End and a Beginning’; we’ll be seeing variations on this a lot over the next few years.

Final Analysis: My earliest memory is of Planet of the Spiders, where a spider appearing on a carpet after some men chant ‘Um Andy Pandy Um’ (I know what they chant now, of course!), so this holds a special relevance for me. This is a decent adaptation with some lovely additions to the thought processes of the characters. Dicks captures Sarah’s voice particularly well (although once again, he has her fainting!) and he adds greatly to our understanding of Lupton and his bitterness. We also benefit from a much more thrilling – and logical – version of the very padded chase sequence.