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WHAT THE FANZINES SAID

From the very beginning, Doctor Who fanzines were often critical of the Target novelisations, freely handing out brickbats as well as bouquets.
Ian Chesterton (William Russell) hides inside an explosive device in The Waking Ally, the fifth episode of The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964).

The Doctor Who Fan Club was formed in 1972 by a 13-year-old from Edinburgh called Keith Miller. His relationship with the Target novelisations was initially a harmonious one.

In DWFC Mag issue 19 (February 1974), for example, he rated Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion “very good indeed”. Two issues later (August-September 1974) he greeted The Doomsday Weapon with: “Wow!… the best original Target so far.” Then in issue 22 (January-February 1975) he had praise for both The Dæmons (“did the TV serial proud”) and The Curse of Peladon – “Next to Doomsday Weapon, one of my favourite Target Originals.”

By 1976, however, the now 17-year-old Miller was becoming increasingly waspish, with his barbs often aimed at Terrance Dicks. On the catchily retitled On Target page in the first issue of his revamped Doctor Who Digest (July 1976), Revenge of the Cybermen was described as being “in Mr Dicks’ traditional ‘script-to-book-and-never-mindabout- detail’ style.”

Reviewing Pyramids of Mars in January 1977, Miller considered that “Terry seems to be getting better at slight detail… but still there were long periods when he lapsed into ‘script-to-book’.” The Dalek Invasion of Earth in August 1977 was deemed “Very acceptable and detail seemed to be in abundance.” The same issue brought high praise for Ian Marter’s The Ark in Space: “Thrilled to find Ian is in many ways superior in description than Terry. I think it’s time to say that dialogue and vague backgrounds aren’t enough, Target.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Considered a unique record of Doctor Who’s history in the era before fanzines, official magazines and home video, Target books are probably the most cherished items of merchandise inspired by the show. They’re certainly the most commercially successful. From the early 1970s to the early 90s, it’s estimated that Target sold over eight million novelisations and other Doctor Who books. This is the inside story of a legendary imprint, from its rise and fall to its triumphant revival in 2018. Highlights include exclusive interviews with the key players, numerous rare images and extracts from two unpublished manuscripts.