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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Invasion Earth!


Authors: Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke
Read by: William Russell, Caroline John and Martin Jarvis
RRP: £40.00, US $64.95
ISBN: 978 1 4713 0659 4
Available 04 October 2012 (US 12 March 2013)

The slipcase invasion has begun! With Christmas fast approaching, it’s that box set time of year again, and this particular collection contains three unabridged Doctor Who audio books, each one featuring an invasion of our planet: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Auton Invasion and The Dinosaur Invasion.

Presumably one of the criteria for inclusion is that the book’s title must contain the word “invasion”, because otherwise there are loads of Who stories to choose from. The Second Doctor, who dealt with numerous attacks upon our world, is conspicuous by his absence, presumably because of this criterion (Ian Marter’s novelisation of The Invasion has yet to be recorded as an audio book). As it is, we get two Third Doctor stories and one featuring the First Doctor...

The TARDIS lands in a London of future times - a city of fear, devastation and holocaust... a city now ruled by Daleks. The Doctor and his companions meet a team of underground resistance workers among the few survivors, but after an unsuccessful attack on the Dalek spaceship, they are all forced to flee the capital. A perilous journey through England finally brings them to the secret centre of Dalek operations... and the mysterious reason for the Dalek invasion of Earth...

Where better to start than with the novelisation of the very alien invasion ever to be depicted in Doctor Who? Originally published in 1977, Terrance Dicks’s adaptation of the 1964 serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth was also the first Target Book since the company’s initial batch of three reprints in 1973 to revisit the era of the First Doctor.

Writing for William Hartnell’s Doctor for the first time (barring a few scenes in The Three Doctors, which he script-edited), Dicks perfectly captures the character’s mixture of irritability and kindliness, strong will and frailty. In depicting the TARDIS crew’s thought processes, he also plays upon the antagonism between Ian and the Doctor, which had all but disappeared by this point in the television series. The Doctor gets a few additional lines of dialogue during chapters adapted from the fourth episode (in which Hartnell did not appear due to ill health). Susan frequently refers to the Time Lord as “Doctor” rather than “grandfather”, playing down this familial aspect of the show’s mythology, as was the trend at the time of publication.

The series had yet to hit upon the formula of aliens attacking Earth during the present day, so this story is set in the future time of the 22nd century - albeit a future time that closely resembles the 1960s. In fact, the prose version is even less futuristic than the original serial, as Dicks dispenses with the atomic Battersea Power Station. He also removes the Doctor’s assertion that the events of this story take place “a million years” before The Daleks, in light of continuity references made in Planet of the Daleks.

The cover art is notable for being Chris Achilleos’s final contribution to the range. Due to a lack of suitably dramatic reference material from the 1964 serial made available to the artist, his illustration features a Dalek, Dalek spaceships and a Roboman from the 1966 movie Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. This clashes somewhat with descriptions of the Robomen and the Dalek “saucers” in the narrative - the Dalek vessels in the movie look more like teapots than saucers to me!

Reader William Russell, who played Ian in the television serial, steps back into the world of Who with apparent ease. As ever, his delivery of the Doctor’s lines gives an impression rather than an impersonation of Hartnell, though when Russell speaks as Ian, it’s remarkable how the years seem to drop away from his vocal qualities.

His reading is supplemented by Dalek voices provided by Nicholas Briggs. These lend terrific drama to the Dalek scenes, though the voices aren’t entirely authentic, sounding like they do in the new television series and the Big Finish audio plays, rather than the lower-pitched modulation heard in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

The Daleks are the masters of audio! Surrender now and you will listen to an enjoyable talking book!



The newly regenerated Third Doctor, together with Liz Shaw, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the men of UNIT, grapples with the nightmarish invasion of the Autons. Living, plastic-modelled “humans” with no hair and sightless eyes, they are waxwork replicas and tailors’ dummies whose murderous behaviour is directed by the Nestene Consciousness - a malignant, squid-like monster of cosmic proportions and indescribably hideous appearance...

The Auton Invasion is a tremendously significant book, in terms of both the subject matter of this box set and Doctor Who prose publishing in general. Originally published in 1974, it was the first Who novelisation to be penned by the prolific Terrance Dicks and the first to be commissioned by Target Books (as opposed to the previous batch of three reprints of 1960s novelisations).

Many of Dicks’s later books would be slimmer and more basic adaptations, as a result of his heavy workload, but this one, based on Robert Holmes’s script for Spearhead from Space, is rich in detail. The author adds a prologue, which recaps the Second Doctor’s trial and sentence of exile at the end of the previous serial, The War Games (which at the time had not yet been novelised), considerable extra detail about the nationwide chaos that ensues when the Autons activate en masse, and generally fleshes out the characters. He also achieves things that the television budget could not, such as having the “meteorites” land at night and a scarier version of the Nestene creature than we saw on screen. Dicks contradicts himself slightly over the nature of the monster in the tank - Channing says that he does not know what form the creature will take, as it will be specially adapted for the conquest of Earth, but later the beast is described as being the Nestenes’ native form. Apart from that, though, this is a brilliant novelisation.

Its inclusion in this collection is highly appropriate, since it offers an explanation for why Earth keeps getting invaded, particularly from the late 20th century onwards. The Brigadier tells Liz Shaw that the human race has drawn interstellar attention to itself with its space probes and rocket launches.

There’s an additional moment of mirth, not intended by the author, when the Third Doctor regards his predecessor’s clothes as befitting a scarecrow! This was written five years before Jon Pertwee played Worzel Gummidge.

I’m amazed that Yeti creators Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln did not try to sue the BBC after Spearhead from Space was broadcast. The Nestene Consciousness, a formless entity seeking to reconstitute itself with the aid of manufactured bipedal bodies, is notably similar to the Great Intelligence, a foe that the Third Doctor was scheduled to face in his debut story, until Haisman and Lincoln fell out with the Doctor Who production team over their handling of The Dominators. However, Spearhead was in fact based on a story Holmes wrote for the 1965 film Invasion, which similarly featured a cottage hospital, a mysterious and unconscious alien patient, flummoxed physicians, an army patrol and lurking alien forces in nearby woods.

Caroline John, who played Liz on television, gives a lively reading, distinguishing the voices of the numerous characters with various accents and vocal traits. For example, here Hibbert has a slight speech impediment that affects his pronunciation of Rs.

Music (by Simon E Power) and sound effects add to the mood, including a gunshot that actually made me jump!

A magnificently manufactured adventure.



The Doctor walked slowly forward into the cul-de-sac. Suddenly from behind came a great roar of anger. He spun round - blocking the exit from the narrow street towered a Tyrannosaurus rex, its savage jaws dripping with blood...” The Doctor and Sarah Jane have arrived back in the TARDIS to find London completely deserted - except for the dinosaurs. Has the return of these prehistoric creatures been deliberately planned and, if so, who can be behind it all...?

Malcolm Hulke’s The Dinosaur Invasion, which was first published by Target Books in 1976, presents us with a rather different invasion of Earth. This time the incursion comes not from another planet but from another point in time.

Hulke’s adaptation expands upon the atmospheric first episode of his six-part serial, Invasion of the Dinosaurs, which establishes the eerily deserted London. The material from this instalment occupies most of the first disc of this four-hour presentation. New to the novelisation is the character of Shughie McPherson, who visits the city in Chapter 1 and finds himself stranded there when the place is evacuated. He becomes an early victim of a dinosaur, thus revealing the creatures sooner than the television story does. Some scenes are even conveyed from the perspectives of the dinosaurs themselves. In print and on audio, of course, the creatures are not prone to the disappointing special effects that blighted the television production.

The author also develops the vain (and here probably gay) character of Professor Whitaker, and gives Butler a scar (which enables us to identify him from the Doctor’s point of view) and a sympathetic back-story to explain the wound’s presence. However, the most revolutionary bit of character development is that of Captain Mike Yates, just as it was in the original serial. The seeds of his involvement in Operation Golden Age had been sown in the previous season’s The Green Death (which Hulke himself novelised) and reverberate into Pertwee’s final story, Planet of the Spiders. This was all long before story arcs became the in-thing of telefantasy.

On a more minor note, the Doctor’s Whomobile car does not appear in the novelisation. Instead, the Time Lord makes use of a motorcycle, as the author had originally intended in his television script.

The book’s cover illustration is also notable owing to Chris Achilleos’s inclusion of the comic-style sound effect, “KKLAK!” The publishers forbade the artist ever to do anything like that again!

Martin Jarvis, who played Butler in the original serial, is a prolific voice artist, so it comes as no surprise that he turns in a very competent reading of the book, though his voices for Butler and Whitaker are rather similar to each other and are sometimes difficult to tell apart. It’s interesting to observe how Jarvis, just like Caroline John in her reading of Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters, gives a whining nasal quality to a character that was originally portrayed on screen by Peter Miles - it would seem that Miles’s performances proved highly memorable to both readers.

This is a welcome presentation of a novelisation from a true golden age.



All in all, this is a consistently entertaining collection, well worth invading your local bookstore for.

Richard McGinlay

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