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For the first time in decades, new Doctor Who novelisations have been published under the Target Books banner. The authors of the four new adaptations explain how they’re resurrecting a cherished imprint…
Target Books authors Paul Cornell, Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat and Jenny T Colgan. Jenny T Colgan photo © Rebecca Marshall.

In the days before streaming, Blu-rays, DVDs and even VHS, there was only one ‘on-demand’ way to relive your favourite Doctor Who episodes. The first novelisations of television Doctor Who stories were a handful of books published in the 1960s. Fans had to wait until 1973 before a more regular service resumed, this time under the aegis of a new children’s imprint called Target Books. Over the next 20 years, Target published more than 150 novelisations, adapting nearly all of the Doctor Who stories that had been transmitted up to that point. By the time Doctor Who returned to television in 2005, the world had changed. Novelisations were no longer the only way to revisit your favourite TV show or movie, and it seemed very unlikely that the Target range would ever be resurrected.

However, four adaptations of 21st-century Doctor Who stories have just been published by BBC Books under the old Target imprint. Russell T Davies has adapted his own script for Rose, which relaunched the series in 2005; Jenny T Colgan has undertaken the Tenth Doctor’s debut The Christmas Invasion (2005); Steven Moffat has breathed new life into 2013’s 50th Anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor; and Paul Cornell has tackled the Twelfth Doctor’s finale, Twice Upon a Time (2017). James Goss’ 2015 adaptation of Douglas Adams’ City of Death (1979) will be published in abridged form as a Target Book, too.

“Initially they just asked my permission for someone else to novelise Rose,” says Russell, “and I thought, ‘Hold on, this is my chance!’ I’ve always wondered about writing more prose – I read like a demon, so I thought I could test myself. And there’s a very new Doctor Who ahead, so this felt like a chance to say goodbye to the old era before leaping into the new.”

“They told me they wanted to do novelisations of Twice Upon a Time and The Day of the Doctor,” says Steven, “and they were asking, without much optimism, if I’d do Twice Upon a Time. I said, ‘Well, if I’d do either of them, it would be The Day of the Doctor.’ They were very keen on that. In the interim, I’d found out that Russell was doing Rose. I asked him why he was doing a novelisation, and he said, ‘Because when we’re very old, this will matter to us more than the show.’ Well, fair enough. But also, The Day of the Doctor was such a monster of a show to do, and almost certainly the biggest success I’ll ever have – so I wasn’t letting someone else do the final lap! I also suggested that Paul Cornell did Twice Upon a Time.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • Former Doctor Who showrunners Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat, and writers Jenny T Colgan and Paul Cornell, talk exclusively about their new Target Books • Production Notes from Russell T Davies • A tribute to the late Peter Miles, who played Davros’ assistant Nyder in 1975’s Genesis of the Daleks • The never-before-told story behind the creation of Doctor Who's 2010-17 logo • The history of Doctor Who releases from BBC Records and Tapes • Behind the making-of Infinity, a new Doctor Who video game starring Michelle Gomez as Missy and Ingrid Oliver as Osgood • DWM goes to the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles • Out of the TARDIS with impressionist Jon Culshaw • Christel Dee’s guide to cosplaying the Doctor’s distinctive orange spacesuit • Part One of The Clockwise War, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • The Fact of Fiction reveals the hidden depths to the 2015 Twelfth Doctor story Sleep No More • An interview with DJ and drummer Klaus Joynson, who has paid homage to Doctor Who in his album New Adventures in Time & Space • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!