It’s over 35 years since I first read Terrance Dicks’ novelisation of the second Dalek story, and for various reasons, it’s one that’s always stuck with me – to the extent that while listening to William Russell’s reading, I could clearly remember the little turns of phrase that were about to be used. It was the first Who book I saw in manuscript form: the first time I interviewed Terrance back in the mists of time, he had just completed work on it, and he was very proud of the way in which he described the scene showing the Daleks crossing Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament behind them.
It’s a few years though now since I read it, and hearing Russell’s reading (complete with Dalek interjections from Nick Briggs), you realise how much of an oddity this novel is. It’s a third version of the story effectively: the televised version had certain changes made because of Hartnell’s illness, and the film of course took major liberties with characterisation and plotline. Terrance Dicks reverts to the original scripts, so the Doctor is involved all the way through; and one of the most famous speeches (“One day I shall come back…”) is here in very shortened form.
The most unusual thing is the number of times where Susan addresses her grandfather as “Doctor” which, now that we have had so many new stories written for this TARDIS team, really stands out. There was a belief at one point that there was no family relationship between the two, and this may be an example of that being imposed on the original storyline.
This is Dicks’ only Dalek novel from the black and white era, and probably the book that is closest to its source material – both David Whitaker’s and John Peel’s wander away from the text where the authors deemed it necessary. It was a great read back in 1977, and it remains so today.
Verdict: An enjoyable rendition of one of the books from Target’s golden age. 8/10