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Doctor Who novels contain some of the most complex and fascinating time-travel stories of all...
Jon Pertwee as the Doctor in a still promoting Day of the Daleks (1972).
Sara Kingdom (Jean Marsh) falls victim to the Time Destructor in Destruction of Time, the twelfth and final episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan (1965-66).
The cover of the novelisation of Terry Nation’s 1965 story The Chase. The book was written by John Peel, with cover art by Alistair Pearson. It was first published in 1989.

Though focused on a time traveller, Doctor Who hasn’t always focused on time travel. Indeed, with the TARDIS proving an unreliable vessel throughout the first three Doctors’ tenures, the show’s first decade reserved time travel almost exclusively for the Doctor’s own people – the Monk, the War Chief, the Master – or the Daleks. As a result, the Target series of script novelisations, which theoretically were an opportunity for writers to expand on what was shown on screen, often had very little to actually expand on.

One of the earliest novelisations, Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks by Terrance Dicks (published in 1974), restores a charming epilogue, edited out of the TV version, in which the Third Doctor and Jo Grant meet themselves from earlier in the story – a result of the Doctor’s inveterate tampering with the TARDIS. It also features one of the Doctor’s many half-hearted attempts to explain the intricacies of temporal paradoxes to his companions. When Jo and the Brigadier ask if the future Earth ruled by the Daleks is going to happen, the Doctor replies,

“It is and it isn’t. There are all kinds of futures, you know.” Ominously, he adds, “The Daleks exist in many places and many times… I’ve just got to get the TARDIS working again. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to need it.”

In 1989, John Peel novelised the 1960s Dalek stories The Chase and The Daleks’ Master Plan, which both featured the Daleks pursuing the First Doctor and his companions through time and space. While both are reasonable faithful adaptations, Peel suggests that The Daleks’ Master Plan is even more epic than the 12-part adventure seen on TV by having the First Doctor, Steven and Sara Kingdom travelling together for months between episodes. This is an idea since explored in several of the Big Finish audio dramas. Peel also concentrates on the horror of the Time Destructor, the Dalek super weapon that can accelerate or reverse time. The novel’s harrowing final chapter describes the effects of the Destructor, firstly ageing Sara to death – from her own point of view – and then de-evolving the pursuing Daleks to their humanoid appearance, and finally to dust.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The Doctor has always challenged the linear conception of time. Since his television voyage began in 1963, the TARDIS has travelled backwards, forwards and even sideways through the mysterious Vortex. This lavish publication traces the development of these time-bending narratives, describing the rules that were laid down – and subsequently revised – by the series’ writers and producers. We unravel this timey-wimey journey with exclusive interviews, rare images and revealing features that explore the most intriguing corners of the Doctor Who universe.