Who and Books

Hosts Ben McKenzie, John Richards and Petra Elliott met as part of Darebin Libraries’ Geek Week to discuss all things Doctor Who books in this special extra live Splendid Chaps episode, recorded at Northcote Library in Melbourne on Star Wars Day, May the 4th, 2013. With special guests editor and broadcaster Katie Purvis (Katie’s Cut Lunch on Joy 94.9) and author Dave Hoskin (Shooting the Poo podcast), plus a special reading from comedian Lawrence Leung (Unbelievable, Choose Your Own Adventure).


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Also, thanks to Penguin Books Australia, we’re giving away a copy of Where’s the Doctor and one of The Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia to two lucky winners! All you need to do to be in the draw is to comment on this episode below: tell us about your favourite Doctor Who authors, the treasured books in your collection, or just what you thought of this episode. Comment before the recording of our June 15 episode to be in the running, and we’ll announce the winner then.

We mention a lot of books in this episode – and read from more than a few. So here’s a bibliography – let us know if we missed any!

Target novelisations:

  • Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion – Terrance Dicks
  • Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks – David Whitaker
  • Doctor Who and the Mutants – Terrance Dicks
  • Doctor Who and the Zarbi – Bill Strutton
  • Doctor Who and the Crusaders – David Whitaker
  • Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons – Terrance Dicks
  • The Five Doctors – Terrance Dicks
  • Terminus – Stephen Gallagher

We mentioned that some of the Target Doctor Who novelisations were translated into Japanese; there were five in all, released by Hayakawa Publishing Inc in 1980: 1

  • 時空大血闘! / Jikuu Dai Chi Tataka! (Space-Time Big Bloody Battle! or The Big Bloody Battle in Space-time!) (The Daleks)
  • オートン軍団の襲来! / Oo-ton Gundan-no Shuurai (The Auton Army Invasion) (Spearhead from Space)
  • 戦慄! 地底モンスター / Senritsu! Chitei Monsutaa (Shuddering! The Underground Monsters or The Terrifying Underground Monsters) (Doctor Who and the Silurians)
  • 恐るべき最終兵器! / Kowaru Beki Saishyuu Heiki! (Be Fearful of the Ultimate Weapon!) (The Doomsday Weapon / Colony in Space)
  • ダレク族の逆襲! / Dareku Joku-no Gyakushyuu! (The Dalek Race’s Counterattack!) (Day of the Daleks)

Katie quoted classic opening lines from three of Terrance Dicks’ novelisations (the titles are kept secret on the podcast; see if you can guess before reading the answers!):

  • “It moved through the silent blackness of deep space like a giant jellyfish through the depths of the sea.” – Doctor Who and the Claws Of Axos
  • “Through the ruin of a city stalked the ruin of a man.” Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth
  • “Through the vortex, that mysterious region where time and space are one, sped a police box that was not a police box at all.” – Doctor Who and the Destiny Of The Daleks

We had longer readings from:

  • Time and the Rani – Pip and Jane Baker
  • Remembrance of the Daleks – Ben Aaronovich
  • Frontios – Christopher H. Bidmead
  • Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters – Malcolm Hulke

And we also mentioned:

  • Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion – Malcolm Hulke
  • Doctor Who and the Pescatons – Victor Pemberton
  • Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang – Terrance Dicks
  • Survival – Rona Munro (with a postscript by Peter Darvill-Evans)

And if you want to help spread Target Books throughout school libraries in the UK, check out the Target Who project’s blog.

New Adventures

  • Timewyrm: Revelation – Paul Cornell
  • Nightshade – Mark Gatiss
  • The Left-Handed Hummingbird – Kate Orman
  • Set Piece – Kate Orman
  • SLEEPY – Kate Orman
  • Return of the Living Dad – Kate Orman
  • So Vile A Sin – Ben Aaronovitch and Kate Orman
  • The Room with No Doors – Kate Orman
  • Damaged Goods – Russell T Davies (Petra’s reading)
  • Head Games – Steve Lyons
  • Human Nature – Paul Cornell

Missing Adventures

  • Venusian Lullaby – Paul Leonard

Past Doctor Adventures

  • Spiral Scratch – Gary Russell (live show only)

Big Finish

  • Short Trips: Transmissions – Richard Salter (ed.); reading from iNtRUsioNs by Dave Hoskin

Reference Books

  • The Doctor Who Technical Manual – Mark Harris
  • TARDIS Eruditorum (website and 3 books thus far) – Philip Sandifer; Katie reads from “These Books Are From Your Future (The Smugglers)
  • Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia – Annabel Gibson, Moray Laing, Jason Loborik
  • The Doctors: 30 Years of Time Travel – Adrian Rigelsford


  • Where’s The Doctor? – illustrated by Jamie Smart
  • Doctor Who: 25 Glorious Years – Peter Haining
  • Doctor Who Special – Journey Through Time (1985 anthology of Doctor Who Annuals)
  • Doctor Who Quiz Book of Dinosaurs – Michael Holt
  • Doctor Who Quiz Book – Nigel Robinson
  • Doctor Who Discovers Early Man – series editor Fred Newman
  • The Doctor Who Cookbook – edited by Gary Downie
  • The Doctor Who Pattern Book – Joy Gammon
  • Make Your Own Adventure with Doctor Who: Crisis In Space – Michael Holt
  • The Coming of the Terraphiles – Michael Moorcock
  • A Big Hand for the Doctor – Eoin Colfer
  • Dining with the Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook – Chris-Rachael Oseland


  1. Information from gallifreybase.com


  1. Tim Cavanagh says:

    One of the most awesome things my dad ever did for me, was take my copy of ‘the Doctor Who Technical Manual’, to His office at work with him. Just so He could photocopy for me the back pages with the Build A Tardis !! I was even more impressed with him when he did so on blue paper!!

  2. Henrik Hansen says:

    I felt this podcast was just for me. I became a Doctor Who fan in the Nineties, through the Virgin New Adventure books. It introduced me to the series and captivated me all the way through to the end. I was ready for Paul McGann once he came on the scene.
    My favourite authors were Cornell, Orman and David McIntee. I also loved “Who Killed Kennedy” by David Bishop. It’s the Kennedy assasination and the dreaded UNIT coverup conspiracy from the POV of an investigative journalist. I ate it up at the time and have enjoyed much more just last month. (I’ve seen most of the 3rd Docyor stories it references since then.)

    I’m loving the podcasts, people. Thanks for this labour of love.

    Henrik Hansen
    London UK

  3. Lucas Testro says:

    Great ep. My favourite Target was Victor Pemberton’s Fury From The Deep.

    One thing you didn’t discuss was the glory of those beautiful covers of the Target books (and the weirdness of the USA Pinnacle reprints – UNIT flew around space in a rocketship according to their cover for Day of the Daleks! http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/images/4/48/DCTRWHNDTB1989.jpg). And then, conversely, the tragedy of the Target range’s move to photo covers during the Peter Davison years… Blech.

  4. I was never really into the Doctor Who books. I found the Big Finish audio dramas when I was commuting an hour and a half to Boston every day. However, I am so happy they exist now, since I am revisiting all Doctor Who episodes, in order, for the 50th anniversary. Since the early ones are mostly missing (and mostly harmless?) I have relied on those novelizations to even experience those stories now. I don’t have a favorite.
    However, with the broadcast of Human Nature/Family of Blood, and a lot of DW fans noting all the similarities to the novel “Human Nature” by Paul Cornell, I decided to borrow that from the library and find out “the REAL story” (which I do a lot for movies or TV shows that are based from books.) I really liked that story, so if I had to pick something as my favorite, it would be that one.
    Since then, I have borrowed a few more in digital form, and they’ve been good.

  5. Ari B. says:

    I was also introduced to Doctor Who via the Target novelizations, having stumbled across them in my local library when I was nine or ten. The US reprints of the Target books all had the same intro, written by Harlan Ellison, extolling the virtues of Who over other TV and film SF.

  6. John Shea says:

    Another great podcast! The Target novels kept me going in between televised episodes of Doctor Who. And the Virgin/BBC novels kept me going during the “lean years” when the show went on “hiatus.”
    Will you do another podcast featuring the Big Finish audios? My workouts have never been better since I started lifting with the Doctor 😉

    • John Richards says:

      Hey John, I’m a big fan of Big Finish too so I know we’ll be talking about them a bit for the Six, Seven and Eight shows. In fact, the 8th Doctor/Lucie Miller stories are some of my absolute favourite Who of any type. I think they do a better job of balancing plot and character than the TV series has ever managed.

  7. Mathew Guglielmi says:

    Enjoyed the podcast! There was no mention of the Telos novellas. which were released prior to the RTD era. The Dalek Factor by Simon Clark, my favourite in the Telos range, is probably the most chilling depiction of the Daleks.

    • Dave says:

      I was going to mention the Telos novellas, Mathew, and if I’d had a chance I would have read out Clark’s first description of a Dalek as it’s one of the few times they’ve sounded truly monstrous and alien. Sadly, I never quite got around to it. I was also going to talk about some of the other more notable spinoffs like the Faction Paradox books and Obverse Publishing’s various endeavours, but time just got away from me. I do urge anyone that’s interested to check them out though–well worth the investment.

    • Ben says:

      Yeah – what Dave said! I would have liked to talk more about the Missing Adventures, and the Telos stuff, and even some of the fan books like the novelisations of Douglas Adams’ stories (pre the recent official Shada book, I mean) – but this is already our longest episode ever! I own several of the Telos books and really enjoyed The Dalek Factor too, it’s probably my favourite one though all the ones I’ve read are pretty great.

  8. Sophie says:

    My first exposure to Doctor Who was actually through the Eighth Doctor Adventures, a box of which my grandmother bought and gave to me when I was nine. I loved them in part because they felt ‘grown up’- this was in 2004, a year before the series came back, and because everyone I socialized with was too young to have seen the show outside of 2am reruns, it felt like it was just for me. Fitz also formed my ideas of what a companion was and could be, and all future companions would have to measure up to him or be found wanting. The Eigth Doctor Adventures also contains one of my favourite alternate universe set-ups ever, where the Doctor is a man of questionable mental health living in a house with Fitz and Compassion as his tenants. He’s implied to be gay and has a magnificent crazy mother. Needless to say, I would read a full series of novels written about obsverse Doctor.

    For Christmas this year, my 13 year old brother received a copy of three of the new original novels, and I read them. Having read them, I’m not sure who they’re for. The language and presentation is more directly aimed at children under 12, but the plot of one of them was a man whose wife had been lost to the weeping angels trying to save her while thinking about the way their marriage had been falling apart when she died. Who is the target for that?! I couldn’t quite decide.

    • Ben says:

      Thanks for your comments Sophie!

      I’m still reading Moorcock’s The Coming of the Terraphiles, and I agree – I’m not sure who the target audience is. It’s a grand space opera in part, but also a loving homage/parody of British culture, aimed at I would guess a young adult reading level? It’s fun though!

      Also, I had no idea you could get a box of EDAs – I must investigate! I wonder how they sold? Or do you mean he bought loads and put them in a box?

  9. Koa Webster says:

    I’m really enjoying Splendid Chaps, and this was a great episode. I’ve not read many of the Doctor Who books, but I do remember my brother owning the Technical Manual. I had no idea how vast the world of Doctor Who books is! Will definitely be trying to hunt down some of them now… and the Doctor Who Pattern Book sounds like the best present ever for my crafty/geeky sister-in-law (if only I can find a copy).

    • Ben says:

      Good luck finding it Koa – it’s very much out of print, but you might get lucky on eBay! And thanks for the kind words.

  10. Richard Ingram says:

    Another great episode. I didn’t realize the time war was in the 8th doctor books. Can someone tell me which ones I should read?

    • Ben says:

      Hi Richard! We probably didn’t make this clear, but it’s not the same Time
      War from the television series – it’s a different one, invented for the books. The enemy is different, the outcome is different, and…well, any more would be spoilers.

      As for which ones to read, that’s tricky. Like the New Adventures before them, they vary in quality a lot. I recommend anything by Kate Orman, and most of Lawrence Miles’ stuff, though you probably want to read a bunch to follow the ongoing story lines. The first major arc of the War runs from around Alien Bodies to The Ancestor Cell; some more bits and pieces happen in the last book, The Gallifrey Chronicles. None of it is considered canon by the revived series.

      • Richard Ingram says:

        It still sounds interesting, and I have put it on my to-read list. I just have to find them now.


  11. Daria Sigma says:

    While I came to Doctor Who via the TV series, certainly most of my early exposure to it was the books. In fact, I’m pretty sure that of the first seven Doctors, all but the Third and Fourth I’d read them before I ever saw them in actual TV stories. To this day there are stories that I’m not sure whether I remember from television or print…

  12. Andrew Mitchell says:

    I thought I loved Doctor Who before I found your podcast (thanks to Ben) but really I’ve just had a mild infatuation compared to the depths of obsession displayed on this show. I’ve never read a Doctor Who book (apart from the technical manual) but I’m going to fix that soon! My 9 year old and I would love a copy of “The Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia” but I’ve already given her “Where’s the Doctor” so someone else can have that!

  13. Sarah Brown says:

    I read all the target novelisations at my local library (I read most things at my local library….) but I remember my English teacher trying to deflect me onto “real” fantasy and sci-fi, so I ended up trying to disguise the titles on my school reading log. I think Uncle Terry’s name might have given it away though. 🙂

    And on another note, I would give a great deal for that Make Your Own Adventure story – my partner’s name is Garth, and it was all I could do not to laugh at that description of the Bad Guy.

  14. Daniel says:

    The Technical Manual is why I’m a fan today. I watched the show when I was tiny but forgot all about it, but every so often I’d pull out the book and marvel at the pictures and try to read. It definitely lead to my ongoing curiosity with the show which meant multiple trips to second hand book stores for copies of the target novels.

  15. Scott Vandervalk says:

    I’ve been going back and reading some New Adventures and 8th Doctor Adventures – particularly reading some of the Kate Orman stuff. She surely likes torturing The Doctor, and pyramids.

  16. Sam Streeter says:

    My friend had a similar experience to Dave. They submitted an audiobook script to Big Finish but it was rejected as it was too similar to a story already in production for the TV series. She & her writing partner was commissioned to write another episode on the strength of the first & it was produced last year with Sylvester McCoy (The Doomsday Quatrain). They’ve since had a second adventure with Peter Davison recorded (1001 Nights). It would be interesting to know how closely Big Finish work with the current show runners to avoid these problems.

    • Dave says:

      Hi Sam,

      As I understand it, all related merchandise has to go through Cardiff for approval. I think one of the script editors is responsible for liaising with the production team and keeping the various producers of non-telly Doctor Who (comics, audios, books) away from storylines the parent series is going to be doing imminently. This all gets done at a fairly early stage though–my story got bounced back at storyline stage; I hadn’t actually started writing the prose part yet–so the process is fairly efficient.

      Luckily for me, the rewriting/rethinking/replotting process took approximately two days to sort out, resulted in a more interesting story, and allowed me to visit Melbourne’s Dead Letter Office, which was something that I otherwise would never have been allowed to do. Waving Doctor Who in people’s faces works a bit like the psychic paper, it seems…

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