Think back, if you will, to the early 1970’s. Some of you can, some of you can’t. I can, just! Doctor Who was just past it’s 10th birthday, the show was now being transmitted in full colour after six and a bit years of monochrome. Jon Pertwee was into his third year as The Doctor and moves were afoot to produce a range of books novelising his adventures in the wake of the publication of the three novels: Doctor Who and the Daleks, Doctor Who and the Zarbi, and Doctor Who and the Crusaders published back in the mid to late 1960’s.
On television the “curse” of the repeat was still not as infamous as it would become throughout the late 1970’s and through the 1980’s. The chances of repeat showings of Doctor Who episodes were very rare indeed. If you missed the first showing, you missed the episode for a long time (and in some cases forever) as VHS tapes and DVDs were a long way into the future. Some were able to record the soundtracks from the TV (and thank goodness they did as they saved some episodes from being lost entirely!), but early Doctor Who was nowhere near as re-livable as it is today, nor as accessible as classic stories are now, thanks to the diligent works of the restoration teams and the serious belief of those who championed the idea of making the existing stories available to the fans in visual form.
In 1973, under the Target banner, writers were given the task of novelising the adventures of the mysterious traveller in space and time using the scripts and any other available material to help recreate the stories seen on the screen. Some of the novels were written by the original writers of the scripts and this could lead to deeper and broader novels being published embellishing the screen version of the story and adding to the mythos of the show at the same time. Richard Henwood was the champion who picked up the three early novels and decided they might have potential for re-issue. His colleague, Brian Miles, agreed there could be a market for Doctor Who novels.
What followed was the only way most fans of the show, throughout the 1970’s and even into the 1990’s, could travel with the Doctor and experience those early adventures. And so many, like myself, did so and relished the release of each book to add to their collection.
This is the story of my Target novels library and how I created it, from the mid 1970’s through until the 1990’s where the last Target novelisations were finally published before the Target brand ceased to be, and all but a very few of the classic stories had been novelised. The two Troughton Dalek stories (Power of the Daleks and Evil of the Daleks) were later published by Virgin Books, leaving a further five stories unpublished, although now that number is down to just two with the publication of the adventures The Pirate Planet, City Of Death and Shada. The missing stories (like the lost stories of the TV series), Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, may never see the light of day.
In Part Two: The collection begins and, having only started to watch the show around Season 10, I begin to discover the earlier adventures which I had never known existed!
Warm regards, Phil (@TheGingerDrWho)