Evil Power Daleks

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently reading through my Doctor Who book collection. This is focused on the classic series (i.e. from its inception in 1963 to its cancellation in 1989; so far my only contact with the new series has been via the TV episodes, mostly on DVD). Although I also have a number of more-recently-written novels (including a few audiobooks) set in this era, the mainstay of my collection is novelisations of the original TV stories. By now, I have almost all the novelisations up to the end of the 5th Doctor’s tenure, with only two outstanding (there were also a handful of stories that were never officially novelised, but there are versions of them published by the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club which are freely available online in PDF format – although the novelisations page seemed to be down when I last checked it). My collection for the remaining doctors has a few more gaps but I’m less worried by them since I remember watching the stories that are missing from my novel collection and some of them weren’t that great.

The two missing novels from my early Doctor Who collection are the two dalek stories from the Patrick Troughton era. Both of these were novelised (sometime in the late 1980s, I think) by John Peel (not the radio DJ) but unfortunately they are long out-of-print and copies are now quite expensive to procure. I have not yet managed to find a copy of either book for a price that I’m willing to pay. However, all is not lost as I have managed to get copies of both stories in other formats (not DVD, as both are among the missing stories from the early years of Doctor Who).

The first of the two stories is The Power of the Daleks, which is an especially significant story as it was Troughton’s first (and therefore the first story ever – not counting the two dalek movies of the early 1960s – to feature a doctor other than William Hartnell). I have got a copy of the TV script for this one (which, along with several other Doctor Who scripts, was published in the early 1990s). Reading a script is, in some ways (and perhaps unsurprisingly), rather similar to reading a play and requires somewhat more effort than reading a novel to keep track of all the characters and to imagine how the lines might be delivered.

The other story is The Evil of the Daleks, which was the first story of the next season (season 5) and marked the introduction of the character of Victoria Waterfield, who went on to travel with the Doctor and Jamie for the remainder of that season (before being replaced by Zoe, who is a strong contender for my favourite companion ever). This one I have in audiobook format. They have used the audio track from the original story (which, unlike the video, still exists in its entirety) and supplemented it with some fill-in narration from Frazer Hines (the actor who played Jamie, although he doesn’t put on a Scottish accent for the narration) to explain the bits that are not conveyed by the dialogue.

Both the script and the audiobook provide quite a different experience from reading a novelisation. On balance I prefer the novel format, which I think holds up better as an alternative to actually watching the stories. If I get a chance to get the novels of these two stories without having to mortgage any body parts to pay for them, I think I will do so. However, it is quite nice by way of change to approach these stories via alternative media and it is certainly better than having them completely absent from my collection.

As I write this, I am listening to the final chapter of The Evil of the Daleks. This illustrates one benefit of audiobooks over printed novels, in that you can listen to them while doing other stuff (although potentially at the cost of sacrificing some of your attention from the story).

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