Doctor Who - Documentary s11e10 Episode Script

On Target - Terrance Dicks

Terrance Dicks became Doctor Who script editor in the very late 1960s, early 1970s.
And was responsible for seeing the second Doctor exit and developing the third Doctor as he first appeared.
In a lot of ways, Terrance Dicks is Doctor Who.
He formed the public's viewpoint of what Doctor Who was.
Not just in a really, really long time, as show runner of the show, but also, in all those years when his voice, as the voice of Target Books, not just the ones he wrote, but forming the style for other writers, was, again, the voice of the show.
DAVID HOWE: Target Books began in 1973, which is when the first three titles in the range were published.
But they actually started the year before, when an editor called Richard Henwood was looking for some more books to publish.
Richard came across, I think, at a publishers called White Lion, three Doctor Who books, which had been published in hardback.
Not made any sort of impact on the market, in hardback, because I think, then paperbacks weren't even invented.
So, he republished them in paperback with nice, colourful covers and they all sold like hot cakes.
So, being no fool, he thought, "I'm on to a good thing here", went to the BBC, got an agreement to novelise Doctor Who books, and eventually fetched up in the Doctor Who office, you see, with me and Barry.
And he explained all this and said, "Now, what I desperately need now is some more Doctor Who books.
"Who is going to write them?" And I immediately leapt up and said, "I will.
" HOWE: Terrance Dicks' contribution to the range of books really can't be underestimated.
And probably the most important book that he wrote was the first one that he wrote, The Auton Invasion, because if he hadn't done a good job of that, then the book range wouldn't have continued.
It wouldn't have sold 40, 50, 60,000 copies, going to reprint after reprint, and the range would have been dead in the water.
But Terrance managed to pave the way.
He managed to show what could be done, in a different form, to Doctor Who on television.
And so, The Auton Invasion is a very, very significant book, in that regard.
FEMALE NARRATOR 1: Sam looked up cautiously.
Within a few feet of his head, the ground was smoking gently.
Sam reached for a stick and started to scrape away the earth.
Within minutes, he uncovered the top half of a buried sphere, roughly the size of a football.
Hurriedly, Sam replaced the earth over his find and moved away.
He'd come back again when it had cooled down in daylight.
The Auton Invasion really sets up what the Target Books from then on are going to be like.
Before that you just had the three Hartnell books, all of which are quite talky, and all of which really belong to a previous generation of children's books.
Terrance is right at the forefront of a more hard-hitting style of children's books that came in in the 1970s.
He's not afraid to make changes, he makes some quite huge changes, including changing the title, from Spearhead From Space to The Auton Invasion.
This was Henwood basically.
I mean, when I told him the title of the first one I wanted to do which was Spearhead From Space, he said, "I don't like that".
He said, "That's not punchy.
"It doesn't convey anything very much.
What's it about?" And I said, "Well, it's about these creatures "called the Autons invading Earth.
" He said, "Right! We'll call it The Auton Invasion.
" The other thing about the books was that they all started out "Doctor Who and the" And occasionally, a title would come up in which the "the" wouldn't fit, in which it sounded clumsy but they would go ahead and do it anyway.
And I protested against this and got the sort of answer, "Oh, well, it's company policy.
That's what we do.
" But, gradually, that faded away, I think, really, as the books became more important.
Terrance very often changes the plot of the books, to make them better than the TV shows.
For example, at the end of Terror of the Autons, in the TV show, the Master, having worked with the Autons all along, suddenly decides that it might not be a good idea to let them invade Earth, because they might treat him just like all the other human beings.
In the book, Terrance has the Brigadier walk in with a gun and threaten to shoot him if he doesn't, which I think is a much better solution.
FEMALE NARRATOR 2: As Jo Grant walked along the corridors of UNITHQ, she was bubbling over with an uneasy mixture of excitement and apprehension.
At last, she had achieved her ambition.
She was a fully-fledged member of UNIT, The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce.
The fact that she was the newest and most junior member of the top secret organisation did nothing to spoil her pleasure.
But, on the other hand, she was about to meet the Doctor.
And the thought of the coming encounter was enough to give her a mild attack of the shakes.
In Day of the Daleks, Terrance simplifies and condenses a story that he had already script edited on TV.
It's quite interesting, seeing the changes he makes when he gets another chance to go through it.
There's all sorts of little things Terrance does to fix the plots of the stories.
Horns of Nimon he obviously doesn't think very much of.
So, he adds an entire prologue about the history of the empires involved and what got them to this in the first place.
And really gives the story It feels like you're reading about something which is actually much broader.
It really helps.
This is a great example of Terrance at his best.
The Android Invasion novelisation.
He's obviously looking over this script with a script editor's eye and thinking, "Hmm.
I'm not sure, Bob, you should have done this, "and let them get away with this.
" At the end of the televised version, Sarah has the amazing quip, "Please, Doctor, don't ever do anything like that again.
"One of you is quite enough.
" At which point the music comes crashing in and everyone forgets all the plot holes.
But not Terrance, who then adds this extra paragraph.
"The Doctor smiled and helped her to her feet.
"There was still much to be done.
"The immobilised androids would have to be collected and dismantled, "before the low-level scanno-reme could be switched off.
"But soon, life in the space research centre and in Devesham village "would return to normal.
"Marshal Chedaki would wait in vain "for Styggron's signal to bring the invasion fleet of the Kraals "to an unsuspecting Earth.
"With Styggron dead, his master plan had come to nothing.
"The Android invasion was over.
" The Android Invasion was, as a script, a bit of a mess.
When you got to the end of the script, there were several loose ends which had not tied up.
And I just felt they needed to be tied up.
So, I provided a slightly more coherent ending to the whole thing.
But, again, it's like if you're if you're looking at a piece of work, you think, "Well, this needs a patch here and a bit of an addition there "to strengthen it.
" So, you just do that.
But otherwise, you go with what you've got.
One of the things, looking back on my reading, of Terrance's books at the time, that I really appreciate, was that he really understood that although the TV series was a family show, the books were really for children.
So, he'll add things that are not in the TV version just to make it really clear to you.
I remember in the Claws of Axos, when I've seen it on TV, I'm always expecting this line, one of the Axons says something like (MIMICKING AXON) And then there will be entropy.
And then they just carry on in the TV version.
In the book, the Brigadier shoots a questioning look at the Doctor and the Doctor says, (MIMICKING DOCTOR) "Drained of all life and energy, Brigadier.
" (CHUCKLING) It was written like that.
I'm often asked what age group the Who books were aimed at, and the usual answer I give is, "Mine.
" I write them for myself, to amuse myself and to entertain myself.
And I hope that other people will like them.
Terrance has a wonderful prose style.
It's very, very hard to write as simply and directly as he does.
Terrance Dicks' writing style is a master class in good, simple, precise English.
There's something about that rock-solidness that's really reassuring to a child.
I think, when you're learning the rules of grammar, you want someone that follows it absolutely exactly.
And that's another thing I love about Terrance.
It's all so sort of, nuts and bolts and so perfect.
You don't accidently become a best-selling children's author, having been a script editor on a TV show with no previous prose experience.
You do it because you suddenly find out you're very, very good at writing a very direct, very punchy style of prose.
My own style of writing or, at least, what I aim them at, is simplicity, clarity and pace.
My latest two Doctor Who books were a complete surprise.
Justin Richards, who is the editor, phoned me up and said, "We would like you to write a book in this series.
" And they are It's a series of books which are aimed at people with reading difficulties, or, of course, for younger readers.
The brief was that they should be simply written, you see.
So, in other words, you don't use complicated You don't need long, abstruse words or complicated sentence structures.
And he was telling me this and I said, "Justin, I never do that anyway.
" I mean, I was obviously the perfect choice for the job, you see.
One of the things that's most wonderful about Terrance, is what start out as these economical descriptions of each actor to have played the part, and the noise the TARDIS makes taking off, have become these little catchphrases that we all know and love.
"He had a pleasant, open face" for Peter Davison's Doctor.
Which I've always assumed is a cricket joke, because if you play a cricket stroke really well, you'll display with the bat, a pleasant, open face to the ball as it comes in.
I have never asked Terrance about that.
I'd like to find out actually.
There's pretty a really good drinking game to be played with a big pile of Terrance Dicks books.
Getting out the two sips for every time you hear "wheezing" and "groaning", or you see "pleasant, open face", or a "shock of white hair", or "voluminous pockets", or "many-sided central console".
Why not six-sided? Why is it always "many-sided"? When I was doing the novelisations, if I'd come to a description of something which I was going to have to repeat in book after book after book, I thought, "Well, there's no point in wracking your brains for a fresh one "seventy times or whatever.
"I'll stick with the old one if it seems to work.
" And, of course, the most famous is the wheezing, groaning sound of the TARDIS.
In one of the books, I have, in one of my Doctor Who novels, I think it's Blood Harvest.
, there's a policeman The Doctor escapes in the TARDIS at the end of a shootout in Chicago and the policeman comes to tell his boss that the blue box has vanished.
He says, "There was this strange noise.
" And he says, "What was it?" And he says, "Well, it was kind of like a wheezing.
" He says, "A wheezing?" And he says, "And yet it was groaning.
It was a wheezing and a groaning sound.
" And the top cop who was Irish, says, (IRISH ACCENT) "Ah, what kind of an eejit "would come up with a description like that?", you know.
So, I had a certain amount of fun with it.
For those of us who grew up during that time, we didn't have video, there was no Doctor Who Magazine, the Target books were literally the only way of living or watching or experiencing the programme Doctor Who apart from actually seeing it.
So, for those long summers when there was no Doctor Who, it was the only form of Doctor Who.
So, when a new Target book suddenly appeared in bookshops, and they would suddenly appear.
You had no access to any news about them or anything like that.
You just hung around the bookshop until a new one was suddenly there.
These days, of course, the Target Books are quite a valuable reconstruction of missing episodes, in a lot of ways, because they do the background detail, they do the atmosphere It's lovely to have Target books for stories that don't exist.
Still don't exist, that have never been found.
Although we have the audios, it's nice to see that interim period where people were often the original writers coming back and writing those stories up again.
It is really nice to have something like The Abominable Snowman, where Terrance has been really faithful to it.
It's still a great read.
It's interesting the things Terrance changed in that book as well because he had Barry Letts, who is a Buddhist, and, obviously, a great mate of his and colleague.
I think Barry Letts was looking over Terrance's shoulder and saying, "Actually, I think that might be a bit offensive, so, could you change that?" So, there were certain moments I think some of the names have just a couple of letters turned around and so they don't actually refer to figures in the Buddhist faith.
MALE NARRATOR: The Doctor looked up in amazement, "But it's the Himalayas,Jamie, the Himalayas!" "The Hima what?" Geography wasn't Jamie's strong point.
Anywhere outside Scotland was unknown territory to him.
Victoria leaned forward, "The Himalayas.
They're a range of mountains "on the border between India and Tibet, I think.
" The Doctor turned away from the scanner, "That's right! Tibet! That's where we are! Tibet!" Out of so many novelisations, it's hard to pick one favourite, you know.
For instance, it would depend very much on the, I suppose, on the show.
The Five Doctors, which is my own script, will be a favourite.
Or Robot because it's always nice to do your own book.
I think some of my favourite Terrance Dicks novelisations are his late ones.
Well, Inferno and Ambassadors of Death, where after a long period of writing very swiftly and just doing the business, he has a little more time to work on these.
And he gives them a lot of love.
And the descriptions come over very well.
I think Inferno is a very, very special book.
It's late-Terrance and people overlook it slightly, you know.
But Inferno is a very, very difficult and complex story to get across.
And I think Terrance gets it across beautifully and in a really interesting and dense way.
And, actually, sort of, does show thethe young pretenders who were coming into the line, and, you know, what he can really do with a really strong, solid story.
Pyramids Of Mars, again because of You know, you can tell Terrance is really fired up by that story.
He just sat there, you can see him watching at home and saying that, "That was a great one.
"You know, I can't wait to get stuck into that.
" I also like The Time Warrior, which has a prologue which is written by Robert Holmes.
But then that leads Terrance on to kind of make the rest of the book fit in with that style, and it takes a while for us to get to pure Terrance because he's doing a little melding of the two together and that's a very interesting little process.
I asked Bob if he'd like to do his own script of The Time Warrior, you see.
If he liked to novelise that.
And he said he would.
And I think, they, you know, they I handed it back to the publishers and they dealt with it.
And then eventually, the editor rang me up, you know, the actual publisher said, "Look, we can't get anything out of Bob Holmes.
"He's failed to deliver anything and he's long past his deadline.
" So, I rang him up and said, "What's going on, Bob?" And he said, "Oh, it's I've been very busy, Terrance, "and it's very difficult, you know.
" And I said, "Well, look, you know, they're chasing me, now, Bob, you know.
" "Do you wanna do it?" And he said, "Oh, I'll do it.
" He said, "I'll do it.
" And then a bit later on, I got two pages from Bob Holmes which is the prologue to The Time Warrior, and underneath was written, "You finish it.
" I'm not sure there is an archetypal Terrance Dicks story, but, you know, he certainly seems to have his recurring obsessions.
He's really into his Time Lord mythology.
You know, ever since The War Games which he co-wrote.
He's Certainly his later original novels, fill in all sorts of little gaps in Time Lord mythology.
You know, he comes back to the War Lord, from The War Games, for example, and shows us a War Lord with an aborted regeneration.
He comes back to Morbius later in the books, as well.
And there's a whole prequel novel called Warmonger which is entirely about, you know, Morbius in his heyday.
With the novelisation of The Brain Of Morbius, Terrance had written the original script, then Robert Holmes took it away and rewrote it and it went out under a pseudonym.
And Terrance presumably he could've taken the opportunity to change it back or fiddle around with it again, but he didn't.
I think, this probably goes back again to the circumstance that in the '70s we didn't have video, so Terrance wanted to give a faithful recreation of what had been on TV.
And it's interesting because you think that as a writer that was annoyed by the inversion of the Frankenstein thing, which, frankly, Terrance is right, it doesn't make any sense.
You think he would have slipped in a line about that or something, but he doesn't.
He just avoids and looks away and gets on with it.
When I came to novelise it, I had no temptation at all to go back and novelise my original script, or the script the way it had been.
I was novelising The Brain Of Morbius, that the viewer had seen on the screen.
And that's what I gave them.
I think it's Terrance's humanism and liberalism that come over most in his books.
And I think these were great influences on myself as a young reader and as somebody who is read to.
Because, in a lot cases, it was my mum and dad actually reading me Terrance's prose.
There are He likes to gently underline the Doctor's morality, while never slowing down the story for a moment.
ROBERTS: For me and for, you know, thousands of other people of my generation, Terrance was an absolutely Is an absolutely central figure in Doctor Who.
He was the voice of Doctor Who to us.
You know, he was our video recorder.
He was the person who got us reading and, in some cases, writing.
That's Terrance, really.
You know, he's just a great all-rounder and somebody that understands what the audience wants.
Doctor Who books, or Doctor Who in general, and, as part of that, Doctor Who books, have played an enormous part in my career.
I mean, I have in fact, done a lot of other things, in which nobody ever takes a slightest interest.
You know, you never get interviewed about them, you never get I mean, I worked for a long time.
I script edited and later produced The Classic Serial.
They never have any Classic Serial conventions, you know.
We can't do novelisations because they're books to start with, as it were.
The big success, and the one that always gets the fame and the glory and the autographs and the compliments, or, of course, the brickbats from time to time, they can be a touchy lot of fans, is Doctor Who, so it has played an enormous part in my life.
He is, I think, in future years going to become remembered as somebody like Enid Blyton, a great children's storyteller.
And the sheer number of children's books he has out there bears that out.
There's always one thing I've wanted to know.
I'm not sure if I've asked you this before or not in all these years, but you know that description of Peter Davison having a "Pleasant, open face", is this a cricket joke? Because if a batsman addresses the ball really nicely, you'd say that he's presented a pleasant, open face of the bat to the ball.
Good god, no.
If you knew about my sporting record, Paul, or of my knowledge of sports which is absolutely nil, having been born with two left feet, you know.
You throw me a ball and I'll miss it, sure as eggs is eggs.
I'm not like your good self or Peter Davison, a cricketer.
No, it just I don't know where it came from.
But I know that soon after I used it, people started picking up on it saying, "What's it mean?" So, out of sheer perversity, I put it in every time.