CLASSIC DR WHO TARGET BOOKS
To any Doctor Who fans growing up in its heyday, Target Books' paperback novelisations were just as much a part of the Doctor Who cult as the actual series. In fact, in the days before video releases and regular repeats on satellite and cable, many fans were only familiar with some adventures purely through the pages of these little books. Of course the pen is mightier than the budget and several stories I'd read in my youth were rather disappointing when I finally saw them on video years later. This page fondly remember those little books from the days when a book cost under two quid!
The first three Doctor Who novelisations, published in 1973. The original publications featured 'Doctor Who' written in block capitals until the TV series logo was introduced in late 1974 - this edition of "Zarbi" is a reprint, the other two are originals.
The fine artist Chris Achilleos did many classic designs for Doctor Who books throughout the 1970s, with his recognisable pointillist style. Here are four great designs for Third Doctor stories, for novelisations of three of his best adventures - oh, and "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", which is truly terrible but features a wicked cover with a comic-strip style 'KKLAK!' caption coming out of the pterodactyl's mouth!
Target also published various spin-off titles as the range grew in popularity. Here is the "Junior Doctor Who" adaptation of "The Brain of Morbius", "K9 and other Mechanical Creatures", and two puzzle books - "The Doctor Who Quiz Book" and "Brain Teasers And Mind Benders". Another spin-off in my collection is the seminal non-fiction title"The Making of Doctor Who", the first 'behind the scenes' book and the first to provide a definitive episode guide. Sadly, the cover of my copy has fallen off and disappeared!
Target books of memorable 1970s and 1980s stories, including Tom Baker classics "The Talons of Weng Chiang" and "The Robots of Death", with covers by regular Target artists Jeff Cummings and Andrew Skilleter. "The Five Doctors" is a first edition of the twentieth anniversary special "The Five Doctors" with limited silver foil cover. From "Logopolis" onwards, the books dropped the "Doctor Who And..." prefix.
In 1981, during the long period between the last Tom Baker and first Peter Davison season, "An Unearthly Child" finally made its novel debut. This was my first purchase, through my infants school's book club as a five-year old. Precocious, eh? The Doctor Who logo (here in its '80s 'neon tube' incarnation) was metallic red. Several years later, the Colin Baker/Patrick Troughton "The Two Doctors" story was published to celebrate 100 Target Doctor Who novelisations. This time the logo was printed in shiny gold.
In 1981, Target published the two-part Programme Guide by Jean Marc Lofficier. One volume was a A-Z of characters, worlds and histories in the series; the other offered a complete episode guide up to "Logopolis". For many years these books were essential reference tools for fanatics - as you can see my copies are very well-read! On the far right is the updated edition which goes right up to the last episode, "Survival".
In the 1980s the publishers began to run out of TV stories to adapt, and these two titles were amongst the first non-series novels. "Slipback" was an adaptation of an adventure broadcast on Radio Four in 1986, and "Mission To Magnus" was a novelisation of one of the scripts written for the abandoned original season 23.
Sadly, the Target range came to an end in the mid-1990s when the series ended and the company was absorbed by Virgin Books. Virgin's New Adventures (continuing where the TV series left off) and Missing Adventures (original stories featuring past Doctors) kept the Doctor in print, and BBC Books has printed over 100 original novels...but the Target paperbacks will always hold a special, nostalgic place in fan's affections!
If you have any comments, thoughts or memories on the Target books e-mail me!
For a definitive look at the Target books you really must visit On Target - The Changing Face of Doctor Who