BooksDoctor Who

Doctor Who: The Evil Of The Daleks by Frazer Hines, adapted from the original scripts by David Whitaker (book review).

This new novelisation, ‘Doctor Who: The Evil Of The Daleks’, for the approaching 60th anniversary, has been issued with a flourish and a little differently. Actor Frazer Hines has written the adaption of the series that was shown in 1967 where most of the episodes are sadly lost. Fan favourite, the Daleks, make a welcome return and a new companion called Zoe Heriot joins the TARDIS crew.

When the TARDIS is stolen from Gatwick Airport, the Doctor and Jamie have to track it down. They are unaware this is a trap and the shop that sells shiny new antiques features a portal to Victorian time. They are transported to 1866 and meet not only the owner of the shop but those pesky Daleks.

I would have seen this on the TV when it was first transmitted but it’s hard to remember from so long ago. I probably hid behind the sofa when the Daleks came on and I very much doubt that I had any idea what was going on in this long story from one week to the next. The 60s setting might seem quaint now, it’s almost as far away in time as the Victorian setting. It would have been very much up to the minute then with the Doctor on the streets of London. The atmosphere of the frothy coffee bars is relived as the Doctor and Jamie wait to meet their mysterious contact. Jamie is a fish out of water in all these historical periods but he does his best.

The novel has a framework of the Doctor telling Zoe about the danger inherent in travelling with him. Much it is from Jamie’s perspective and his anxiety at going over the story again. The Daleks experiments feel akin to something that would happen in the Big Brother House these days. The notion that the Daleks might want to add human emotions to themselves is intriguing. The framing device of Jamie rewatching this as the Doctor’s memories gives a reason for Jamie to narrate this and pulls us more into the story. This one of the mostly lost stories but, remarkably, you can enjoy it in animated format as well. The Daleks, the setting of the 1960s, it’s all a very period piece now.

For me, the Daleks got interesting once Davros became involved in the plots. There’s no real engagement with the metal mickeys as they are simply relentless warring dustbins. Without emotion, there can be no sense of victory or defeat, they are simply machines following basic programming. The idea of adding human emotion does stir it up and during the story we do witness all sort of feelings from the human protagonists; enough to make a Dalek weep. Overall, it’s not my favourite story but it is retold with gusto and as many different voices as possible. Hines is known for his very good Troughton interpretation and all this helps to make us feel we are really experiencing this adventure again.

Sue Davies

November 2023

(pub: BBC Books/Penguin, 2023. 240 page hardback: Price: £22.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78594-843-5)

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