Doctor Who and the Daleks by David Whitaker review

Doctor Who and the Daleks coverReading the David Whitaker adaptation of Doctor Who and the Daleks allows the reader to go back in time to the very earliest days of the show. Historic context bears repeating: we had no DVDs, recording, streaming, or any other way to watch a show again. Once broadcast it was over.

Enter the novelisation.

Adaptation not slavish copy

As the Neil Gaiman foreword explains (and do read it), this novel tries to stand-alone. It was the first novel, and like the film with Peter Cushing, introduced its hero as though Unearthly Child had never happened. Thankfully it takes few other liberties.

The book is told first-person from Ian Chesterton’s point of view, and maneuvers him and Barbara into the TARDIS before their trip to Skaro. Beyond that the narrative sticks close to the TV script, though has the luxury of descriptive prose. Where the TV series provided a visual (and audio) chill, it is left to the text (and a couple of illustrations) to do the same here. It does this well, and the scenes in the caves near the end actually work very well, and are in some ways stronger than those on TV.

The nascent Ian / Barbara relationship is, perhaps, over-stated but as a stand-alone novel makes sense in context. Is this worth buying? It might not tell you anything about the show you couldn’t get from the DVD, but its age (first published in 1964) make it fascinating as a piece of cultural history.

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