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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who: Adventures in History > DOCTOR WHO DISCOVERS...

DOCTOR WHO DISCOVERS...

Artist Jeff Cummins remembers Target’s short-lived range of educational books.
Artist Jeff Cummins and his illustration for the cover of the 1977 book Doctor Who Discovers Prehistoric Animals.

Of the many journeys the Doctor has taken into our history, few were as odd as those detailed by the Doctor Who Discovers… range, published by Target Books in 1977. Intended to be an ongoing series of educational reads, these slim, 64-page volumes featured the Fourth Doctor ‘discovering’ different topics: Early Man (published 14 February 1977), The Conquerors, Space Travel (both 15 November), Prehistoric Animals (8 December) and Strange and Mysterious Creatures (20 April 1978). Two more were planned for 1978 – The Inventors and The Pirates – but the run was discontinued after just five releases.

The books were edited by Fred Newman, and it’s presumed he also wrote them, as no author was credited. This take on the Doctor – who addressed the reader as if we were accompanying him on his travels – was a little at odds with his TV persona. Endowed with a ‘remarkably sensitive nose’, he would complain about the stench of the creatures and people he came into contact with. The Space Travel book saw him expressing surprise that humanity had managed to get to the Moon, while The Conquerors had him captured by Alexander the Great… for 17 years!

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About Doctor Who Magazine

“History sometimes gives us a terrible shock, and that is because we don’t quite fully understand... We’re all too small to realise its final pattern.” Doctor Who’s first journey in 1963 took viewers back to the Stone Age. Since then the TARDIS has visited many other landmarks in a unique chronicle of the Doctor’s favourite planet. Purely historical stories were once a mainstay of the series, but for more than 50 years significant periods in Earth’s past have provided evocative settings for more fantastical adventures. This unprecedented guide takes a trip back in time with the people, places and classic episodes that are essential parts of Doctor Who history.
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