February 26

Doctor Who : The History Collection


The Witch HuntersBeing a Doctor Who fan in 2015 is amazing. The show we love is back in a primetime TV slot and the production values are beyond belief for those of us that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Also, the actors queuing up to appear alongside the dynamic leading man (all 4 of them since 2005) ensure high quality entertainment is guaranteed.

Beyond the TV show we have a huge range of toys, magazines, exhibitions, concerts and even kids pyjamas (last seen circa the Tom Baker era). But what we have always had are the Doctor Who Books…these are not a new phenomenon – they just required a little determination to track them down!

I am 40 years old. I read my first Doctor Who novel around 33 years ago – sorry I cannot be more exact but I didn’t realise at the time that it would be helpful to have recorded the date. The TV show was in full swing and loads of my pals watched it. I had seen Tom Baker become Peter Davison and I was OK with that (eventually).

English Way of DeathI also discovered that my local library stocked a decent collection of Doctor Who stories – all published by Target Books.   These novels usually came in at around the 120-150 pages and told the stories that had been broadcast by the BBC. Some of the stories I could remember watching with my parents but others told of a different Doctor – a ‘Dandy’, a ‘clown with a mop of hair’ or a stern, older man.   All were captivating…except some of the Hartnell books – they took real dedication.

Target novels kept me reading Doctor Who all through high school. I read the stories over and over again. Then came a slow trickle of VHS video releases of some of the classic Doctor Who stories. Names I had read about suddenly had faces and voices. My books took on a whole new depth – I read my Target books again.

Then in 1989 the show I loved was taken off the air. I waited patiently for its return.

Human NatureAnd waited.

And waited.

I worked Saturdays and school holidays in the largest bookshop in the Scottish Highlands. By virtue of its remote location it was a large and well-stocked shop. One day I noticed a familiar logo on the spine of a book in the Science Fiction section. Doctor Who New Adventures…new stories featuring the Doctor and taking place after the TV show had ended. It was 1991 and this was the start of an amazing publication run of brand new Doctor Who original stories.

The New Adventures run continued until the 1996 TV movie and the debut of Paul McGann. Along the way the monthly new 7th Doctor stories were joined by a range of Missing Adventures which told of Doctors 1-6. Sadly (for me) these books were sometimes tricky to find in Inverness and I had to resort to mail order – these were very much pre-internet days.

After the 1996 TV movie the new stories continued, Virgin had lost the licence and BBC Books took up the mantel with fantastic adventures wrapped in amazingly beautiful covers and supported by a high calibre of creative talent (most of whom I now follow on Twitter).

Dead of WinterTake a massive jump forward to 2015 and a new generation of Doctor Who fans are enjoying the rich legacy that comes with a show that has over 50 years of back story.   TV stations like Gold and The Horror Channel are beaming ‘classic’ episodes into our homes. Netflix have 7 years of ‘New’ Who to enjoy on demand. Yet the much loved books which spanned the long years between 1989 and 2005 have gone from bookshops and are now coveted by collectors.




Fortunately we now have The History Collection. BBC Books have reissued 8 volumes of past doctor adventures to give fans the chance to catch up on some of the stories that they may have missed. Amongst the collection are Paul Cornell’s Human Nature (originally a 7th Doctor story it became a 10th Doctor/Martha story featuring The Family of Blood – and some creepy scarecrows). Another popular title was The English Way of Death by Gareth Roberts which has also recently been made into an audio drama featuring Tom Baker.

A very important aside – head to www.Bigfinish.com to discover their amazing range of Doctor Who audio plays. They have produced a staggering collection of dramas which feature the 4th to 8th Doctors; along with all their companions and more than a few of their familiar enemies too.

The RoundheadsBack to the books.

If you enjoyed last year’s 12th Doctor novels from BBC Books then you will be pleased to hear that both James Goss and Justin Richards have titles included in The History Collection.

I remember particularly enjoying The Shadow In The Glass (Richards) which was a 6th Doctor story.   Fans of Sherlock may enjoy The Roundheads (a 2nd Doctor Story) which was written by the ridiculously talented Mark Gatiss. I would also single out The Witch Hunters by Steve Lyons as a great story, it is set in the village of Salem and features the original TARDIS crew of 1st Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara.

These books offer readers the chance to join the TARDIS crew on new adventures. They also allow an opportunity for new fans of The Doctor an insight into how the past Doctor’s behaved. If you have never seen the Second Doctor and Jamie in action then you are in for a treat!

The History Collection should be a welcome addition to any Doctor Who fan’s bookshelves. There are some brilliant stories for everyone to enjoy and I hope that BBC Books may consider raiding the archives for future releases. If I am allowed to submit some suggestions I have a shortlist!

The History Collection in Full:


An adventure set in the 17th century Salem Witch Trials featuring the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell.

The Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, fights to keep history on course in the aftermath of the English Civil War.

Jon Pertwee plays the Third Doctor in 1950’s London, joined by his companion Sarah Jane Smith.


A sweltering summer in London, Tom Baker features as the Fourth Doctor in this 1930’s adventure.

Colin Baker plays the Sixth Doctor in an adventure set partly in Second World War.

An adventure set in Britain on the eve of the First World War, featuring the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy.

This book was the basis for the Tenth Doctor television story Human Nature / The Family of Blood starring David Tennant.

Roman adventure with David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, and his companion Rose Tyler.

Matt Smith is the Eleventh Doctor in this 18th century Italian adventure.


(all titles are available in good bookshops and through your online store of choice).

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Posted February 26, 2015 by Gordon in category "Doctor Who", "From The Bookshelf