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An imminent production handover prompted story editor Dennis Spooner to create the first Doctor Who episode guide.
William Hartnell as the Doctor in The Reign of Terror. This 1964 story was Dennis Spooner’s first script for Doctor Who.

Early in May 1965, as the opening episodes of The Chase were being recorded, the Doctor Who production office was preparing for a major change in personnel. Original producer Verity Lambert would be leaving the series in August to oversee the launch of a new twice-weekly soap opera, The Newcomers, and story editor Dennis Spooner had accepted a position as head writer on The Baron, a colour film series due to start shooting at Elstree Studios in July.

To assist their replacements, Spooner penned a three-page document titled ‘The History of Doctor Who’ that outlined the 19 Doctor Who serials produced or commissioned to date, listing each story by production code together with the author’s name and the number of parts it comprised. Entirely unaware of the document’s significance to cultural historians of the future, Spooner had just written Doctor Who’s first formal episode guide.

A former comedy sketch writer who had graduated to serious drama with scripts for Coronation Street, No Hiding Place and The Avengers, Dennis Spooner was a regular writer on Gerry Anderson’s Fireball XL5 and Stingray series when he was invited to contribute to Doctor Who, as he told Doctor Who Monthly in 1981.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The latest Special Edition of Doctor Who Magazine is devoted to the many non-fiction books based on the series. This comprehensive guide traces the history of the series’ reference works, from the very first episode guides compiled by Doctor Who story editors for their colleagues in the 1960s, to the fanzines of the 1970s, the first authorised books based on the series and the plethora of books available today. Exclusive interviews, behind-the- scenes features and numerous rare photographs tell the whole story, from the black-and-white days of Doctor Who to the 2017 series starring Peter Capaldi.