Spoilers are precisely defined here. Rules vary by the story's medium. Info from television stories can't be added here until after the top or bottom of the hour, British time, closest to the end credits roll on BBC One. Therefore, fans in the Americas who are sensitive to spoilers should avoid Tardis on Sundays until they've seen the episode.



Doctor Who and an Unearthly Child was a novelisation based on the television serial An Unearthly Child. This novelisation was written some eighteen years after the publication of the novelisation of The Daleks, published as Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks. The two books, if read chronologically, do not maintain continuity.

Publisher's summary[]

1981 Target Books edition[]


A strange girl who knows far more than she should about the past – and the future...

Two worried teachers whose curiosity leads them to a deserted junk yard, an extraordinary police box and a mysterious traveller known only as the Doctor...

A fantastic journey through Space and Time ending in a terrifying adventure at the dawn of history...



1990 Target Books edition[]


Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright are teachers at Coal Hill School in London. One of their pupils, a girl named Susan Foreman, intrigues them: she displays strange knowledge and an uncanny intelligence. They follow her to her home-- and she leads them to a police telephone box, incongruously parked in a junk yard, where they meet a tetchy, white-haired old man. Susan calls him grandfather, but he says he is known as the Doctor...

This was the public's first glimpse of the dimension-hopping Time Lord, and the beginning of a television legend. More than a hundred and fifty adventures and a quarter of a century later, the Doctor and his Tardis are still travelling through time and space.

Terrance Dicks, who was the Doctor Who script editor for five years, has written more than sixty novelisations of Doctor Who television stories. This is a new edition of his novel based on the first Doctor Who story ever shown on television.

Doctor Who - An Unearthly Child is available as a BBC Video, and will be broadcast on BSB television during 1990.

Chapter titles[]

  1. The Girl Who Was Different
  2. Enter the Doctor
  3. The TARDIS
  4. The Dawn of Time
  5. The Disappearance
  6. The Cave of Skulls
  7. The Knife
  8. The Forest of Fear
  9. Ambush
  10. Captured
  11. The Firemaker
  12. Escape into Danger

Deviations from televised story[]

  • The Doctor specifically states that his name is not "Doctor Foreman" rather than just implying it.
  • The Old Mother is said to be the mother of Za. The father of Za is named Gor.
  • The novel ends by mentioning a war between the Kaleds and the Thals.

Writing and publishing notes[]

  • Suggested by producer John Nathan-Turner as a tie-in to the broadcast of the serial on TV as part of a series of repeats (The Five Faces of Doctor Who), author Terrance Dicks was given only a fortnight to complete the book. There were delays incurred in securing the necessary permission to novelise the story, as the original author Anthony Coburn had passed away by 1981; the go-ahead was eventually given by Coburn's widow Joan Moon.
  • A guaranteed success because of the TV broadcast, this title had an increased cover price and the first edition featured a red foil logo.
  • Cover artist Andrew Skilleter starts an unbroken run of twenty-one covers of artwork with this title, whose artwork he completed over a weekend without being requested to provide any roughs, describing this cover as "a weekends work" in his book Blacklight.
  • It was the first book published in the Target Books Doctor Who novelisation schedules after a six month gap caused by a Writer's Guild strike.
  • It was also the first book to use the new 'neon logo' the TV series introduced for Season 18.

Additional cover images[]

British publication history[]

First publication:

  • Hardback
W.H.Allen & Co. Ltd. UK
  • Paperback


  • Paperback
Target / Virgin Publishing Ltd. UK February 1980 Cover by Alistair Pearson (£2.50 UK)

Editions published outside Britain[]

  • Published in France by Editions Garanciere in 1987 as a paperback edition, translated by Jean-Daniel Breque and published as Docteur Who Entre en Scène, it was one of eight French novelisations; each book is given the strapline ‘Igor et Grichka Bogdanoff presentent’ they presented a French science programme called Temps X, the broadcaster had bought and dubbed a selection of Fourth Doctor stories in 1986 but didn’t show them until 1989. The novelisation features an image of the First Doctor with the Fourth Doctor’s scarf.[1]
  • Published again in Germany by Goldmann Verlag in 1989 as a paperback edition, translator unknown and published as Dr. Who und der Kind von den Sternen, it was one of six German novelisations published in the late 1980’s. Unusually the artwork was swapped with Doctor Who and the Keys of Marinus.

External links[]

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