Doctor Who is not just a TV show or Doctor Who in print

By Will Barber – Taylor

Next year, Doctor Who will have been going for 50 years, the longest running sc-fi tv show ever. There have been 224 stories in that time. What is even more incredible, is the fact that there have been twice as many Doctor Who books published.  Indeed The Doctor has had more printed adventures than he will most likely ever have on-screen. The tradition of Doctor Who books started back in 1964, with the very first Doctor Who annual published. It had lots of fiction stories,  including a series of adventures in which The Doctor battled The Zarbi and other monsters. After the popularity of the annual, the BBC decided to let several companies publish Dalek books. The company, World Disturbers  bought the rights to make Dalek annuals and more Dr Who annuals. Soon Frederick Muller Ltd bought the rights to produce three Doctor Who novelisation, based on the original TV stories but in text form. They published Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventures With The Daleks (Based on the Doctor Who story, The Dead PlanetDoctor Who and The Zarbi (based on The Web Planet) and Doctor Who and The Crusaders (Based on The Crusaders.) all of the books went down well, though for some reason Frederick Muller Ltd did not publish anymore novelizations.

Word Distributor continued to publish Doctor Who annuals, but by the mid seventies they stopped publishing the Dalek annuals due to their lack of presence on TV. In 1973, Target an imprint of W. H. Allen Ltd began publishing new Doctor Who novelization. They would continue to do this for a number of years, publishing in a rather odd order a novelisation of almost every single Doctor Who TV story. Occasionally, they would publish none fiction books, such as The Making of Doctor Who. Long before the now sadly missed, Doctor Who Confidential this gave fans the first chance to see how their beloved show worked. Indeed it was popular and when Jon Pertwee took over from Tom Baker in 1974, the book was updated and given a new cover. Meanwhile Doctor Who was doing well in comics as well. The Daleks had for a time in the 60s their own comic, and The Doctor had already had four lives in the comic called Countdown. Marks and Spencers soon released a big beautifully illustrated book combining some of the artwork from the comics and abridged version of a few of the Target novelizations. This went down very well with fans of all ages.

Sadly, though by the late 80s the show was in decline. Eventually, the BBC axed it in 1989. While the show was off air, Target made an agreement with the BBC to publish brand new Doctor Who fiction. Fans may not be able to see him on-screen but they could at least read about new adventures of The Doctor. In 1990, Target and WH Allen were bought by Virgin Publishing. Virgin agreed to continue Targets plans and publish new Doctor Who adventures. They began in  1991 and would go further than the old Target books and create completely new adventures with new monsters. With the success of the NA range, Virgin began to publish a new strand of novels. Starting in 1994, they were called The Missing Adventures and told a stories that we had not seen featuring the previous Six Doctors.

The books were controversal at the time for breaking continuity rules and breaking away from the traditional family orientated Doctor Who we had seen before. Virgin continued with these books successfully for several years untill 1997. After the airing of the TV movie the previous year starring Paul McGaan, the BBC decide to revoke Virgins license to make Doctor Who books. Virgin continued with a series of book staring a companion created by Virgin for the New Adventures called Bernice Summerfield. These books ran untill 1999, when Virgin abandoned the Summerfield series due to drooping sales. Meanwhile, the BBC were continuing with a series of new Doctor Who books, starring the Eighth Doctor in one range and the previous seven Doctors in another. Like Virgins range, this book series continued untill the series returned in 2005. When the series returned, the BBC decided to continue with the book range, this time getting rid of the past doctor range and focusing on the current Doctors book adventures.

With the return of the annual, The Doctor was getting more and more popular in book form. Soon the main book range was joined by, the Doctor Who Quick Reads range,  (shorter books for people who either want shorter stories or have reading difficulties.) the Decide Your Destiny range (In which you decide what happens in the book.) and the Darksmith book series. (Ten linked books starring the Tenth Doctor.)

The Doctor is now more popular in book form than ever. So, even if you don’t like Doctor Who you have to admit that is a good thing. Anything, is good if it gets people reading because reading can really, change your life.

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