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Doctor Who and the Ark in Space was a novelisation based on the 1975 television serial The Ark in Space.

Publisher's summary[]

1977 Target Books edition[]

At a time in the far-off future, Earth has become uninhabitable. A selection of Humanity is placed, deep-frozen, in a fully automated space station, to await the day of their return to Earth...

Thousands of years later, DOCTOR WHO arrives. He finds things going suspiciously wrong, and the station under attack from the giant WIRRN, deadly creatures who, in their lust for power, now threaten the future of the whole Human Race...

1991 Target Books edition[]


The TARDIS materializes on board the deserted space station to find the body of one of the humans has been infested with the eggs of the hideous Wirrn, who plan to take over Earth. The humans have not woken on schedule and the future of mankind depends only on Noah and the Doctor...

Doctor Who - The Ark in Space, featuring Tom Baker in the role of the Doctor, was written by Robert Holmes. This novelization is by the late Ian Marter who played the part of the Doctor's companion Harry Sullivan from 1974-1975.

2012 BBC Books edition[]

"Homo Sapiens... what an indomitable species... it is only a few million years since it crawled up out of the sea and learned to walk... a puny defenceless biped... it has survived flood, plague, famine, war... and now here it is out among the stars... awaiting a new life."

The survivors of a devastated future Earth lie in suspended animation on a great satellite. When Earth is safe again, they will awaken. But when the Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive on the Terra Nova, they find the systems have failed and the humans never woke.

The Wirrn Queen has infiltrated the satellite, and laid her eggs inside one of the sleepers. As the first of the humans wake, they face an attack by the emerging Wirrn.

But not everyone is what they seem, and the only way the Doctor can discover the truth is by joining with the dead mind of the Wirrn Queen. The price of failure is the Doctor's death, and the end of humanity.

This novel is based on a Doctor Who story which was originally broadcast from 25 January to 15 February 1975.

Featuring the Fourth Doctor as played by Tom Baker, and his companions Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan.

Chapter titles[]

  • Prologue: The Intruder
  1. The Second Invasion
  2. Sarah Vanishes
  3. Sabotage!
  4. A Fatal Wound
  5. The Wirrrn
  6. Time Running out
  7. A Tight Squeeze
  8. A New Beginning

Deviations from televised story[]

  • Space Station Nerva is named Terra Nova. The space station has blue whales and elephants in storage.
  • Noah's transformation into a Wirrn (or "Wirrrn" in the novelisation) is considerably more grotesque. Most notably, his pleas for Vira to kill him are retained alongside a hideous "crack like a gigantic seed pod bursting, his whole head [splitting] open [as] a fountain of green froth erupted and ran sizzling down the radiation suit."
  • Wirrn larvae are used as a threat. They are described as "like huge lumps of clouded glass—inside which the skeletal form of the adult Wirrrn [is] clearly visible, pulsating rhythmically like a heartbeat."
  • The Doctor's confrontation with the Wirrn that was once Noah in the Solar Chamber is approached instead with the Doctor's knowledge of the swarm. He claims that the Wirrn inhabit the Emptiness, they have no need for a satellite like Terra Nova, but it rebuffs his claims. The Wirrn breeding cycle is terrestrial, their hosts intended to be used as a means of accelerating their technological prowess.
  • The stellar pioneers wiped out the Wirrn breeding colonies on Andromeda Gamma Epsilon, rather than "in Andromeda" as stated in the televised story.
  • The Wirrn try to eat the ventilation shaft Sarah is crawling through.
  • The Doctor, Harry and Sarah return to Earth in the TARDIS, rather than using the station's matter transmitter.

Writing and publishing notes[]

  • Ian Marter suggested writing this novelisation after having been closely involved with the story. Marter portrayed Harry Sullivan in The Ark in Space and after leaving the series went on to write several Target Books novelisations. His authorship of this book makes him the only actor in Doctor Who history to write a novel adapting a serial in which he played a major role (a feat he would repeat a year later with Doctor Who and the Sontaran Experiment). This was Marter's first novelisation for Target; he would continue contributing to the range for the rest of his life.
  • Marter originally planned to write the novel in first person from Harry Sullivan's point of view, but this idea was abandoned.
  • This was Chris Achilleos's last cover for the Target range.
  • The inside page includes the comment: "THE CHANGING FACE OF DOCTOR WHO. The cover illustration of this book portrays the fourth DOCTOR WHO"

Additional cover images[]

British publication history[]

First publication:

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


1991, with new cover by Alister Pearson


This Target Book was released as an audiobook on 16 July 2015 complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Jon Culshaw.

The cover blurb and thumbnail illustrations were retained in the accompanying booklet with sleevenotes by David J. Howe. Music and sound effects by Simon Power.

External links[]