Archive for the ‘Target Novelisations’ Category

David Whitaker (1970’s)

November 20, 2009

As promised, here’s more from David Whitaker, talking about the creation of Vicki’s character, his Troughton-era Dalek scripts and his work on the first Doctor Who novelisations.

“The new girl Tanni (later Vicki) was intended to be something of a waif and stray, someone basically for the Doctor to adopt in place of Susan and to carry on her role in the series. I don’t think it was a particularly inspired piece of writing, but it was a necessary one.

“The Crusades is the story I am technically proudest of. It achieved almost to a word what I set out to depict and was people with some particularly interestingly real characters. I became fascinated with the relationship between Richard and his sister, which was almost incestuous in its intensity. I relished the dialogue that the story allowed me to write, and the period itself was so interesting that it became almost a labour of love to produce a script worthy of the colour and depth of drama that had inspired it, within the limits of the budget – and what was permissible for that time slot and indeed for that time, when television was not the liberated lady it has since become. The final satisfaction came with the truly inspired acting and direction – Douglas Camfield worked my words into some beautiful and taut images.

“I was approached to write the ‘Doctor Who’ novels and, once I agreed, found that I had taken on an incredible amount of work, because the whole of Terry Nation’s story for ‘The Daleks’ had to be re-structured and largely re-written by me to make the thing stand up on its own as a novel, separate from the continuing threads of the mainstream television series. I was quite pleased with the result and though it was hard work, I enjoyed it. The second book, ‘The Crusades’, was much more straightforward and less complicated, though, as I liked that one so much anyway. I found it enjoyable from the start.

“With ‘The Power of the Daleks’, it was around the time that William Hartnell was leaving and so, aware that the idea was to replace him with another actor, I wrote the Doctor’s part as sketchily as possible, so that it could be easily altered. I then concerned myself with the rest of the story and delivered my script just before I was due to leave the country. It was a very different kettle of fish when it appeared, and I wasn’t desperately happy about the whole thing.

“The Evil of the Daleks had a lot to it, and it included a theme I’m very fond of – the lure of alchemy. It was as good opportunity to write an atmosphere story, and I had some pleasing characters to work with. It still suffered from re-writes, however, and although it was intended to be the final Dalek story, as Terry wanted to launch them in America, I didn’t really think they’d be gone for good.”

Terrance Dicks (1985)

October 12, 2009

Here’s a brief exceprt from a DWM Terrance Dicks interview, in which he talks about his work writing novelisations for the Target range.

“In the early days of the show, there were three novelizations – ‘Doctor Who and the Daleks’, ‘Doctor Who and the Crusaders’ by David Whitaker, and ‘Doctor Who and the Zarbi’ by Bill Struttion Those were published in hardback and really didn’t make any great impression on the world. Then, in the seventies, Tandem books wanted to start a children’s publishing house, which they called Target. Their first editor was doing the rounds, and he came across these three old books. He bought them and published them in paperbacks and they sold like hotcakes.

“He very shrewdly went to the BBC, saying he desperately needed more ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations. He got himself a contract and eventually got shunted onto our office. I knew then that I was going to be leaving the programme soon, and I’d also always desperately wanted to write a book. I seized on this opportunity and said I would do one for them. That was ‘The Auton Invasion’. I then became a sort of unofficial editor, and farmed them out amongst a group of the writers, like Malc Hulke, Barry Letts, Gerry Davis, Brian Hayles etc. Gradually, over the years, most of the other writers dropped out, and there was a time when I had a virtual monopoly on the books.

“Since they’ve become more successful, more and more of the writers of the original scripts are thinking that they would like to do the book of their own script, which they have every right to do. So now, I do a smaller proportion of them, but that suits me very well because I don’t want to do only ‘Doctor Who’ books forever.

“The backbone of each book is something called the PAB script, which stands for ‘Programme as Broadcast’. When a programme is completely finished and edited, the BBC prepares a sort of retrospective script, which is taken from what is actually on the screen. What I will do is get the PAB script and read it, then have a viewing of the programme on videotape, from which I will take notes of the purely visual things. The sets may not be as described in the script, the costumes may be different, the appearance of the actors won’t be described, etc. Then, I sit down with the script beside me, and make my way through it, turning the story into a book.

“I try to change as little as possible. I will sometimes change a line, almost a matter of instinct. Sometimes a line that’s written to be spoken doesn’t produce the same effect when it’s read. Also, sometimes you have to fill in some holes or explain a few things. If it’s a particularly complex story, or if it’s a sequel to another story, I’ll write a little prologue to make things clearer. For example, I just novelised ‘Warriors of the Deep’, which is a new story that features the Silurians and the Sea Devils, and refers back to two Jon Pertwee stories. So there’s quite a lot in the book which wasn’t on the screen at all.”