This was also the first story to feature Winston Churchill in a prominent role and detailed some of his encounters with the Doctor. The relationship between the two became firmly established when it was carried over into the TV series over a decade later in Victory of the Daleks.
1999 BBC Books summary
The TARDIS has landed on the sun-baked veldt in the middle of a Boer War skirmish. And soon the Doctor and Peri are involved in the adventures of a struggling politician and war correspondent who they know is destined for greater things — a certain Winston Churchill. But mysterious forces seem to be interfering in his potentially great career...
Arriving in London, the Doctor and Peri enter high society but find themselves in a world of intrigue populated by notorious figures from Wallis Simpson to Joachim von Ribbentrop. And behind everything, the Doctor senses the hidden hand of the Players — mysterious beings who regard human history as no more than a chess board. Can the Doctor and Peri find the right moves to defeat them — before it's too late?
2013 BBC Books summary
Arriving on the sun-baked veldt in the middle of the Boer War, the Sixth Doctor is soon involved in the adventures of struggling politician and war correspondent Winston Churchill. Of course, he knows Churchill is destined for great things, but unseen forces seem to be interfering with Winston's historic career... The Doctor suspects the hidden hand of the Players, mysterious beings who regard human history as little more than a game. With time running out, can the Doctor find the right moves to defeat them?
to be added
- Sixth Doctor
- Second Doctor
- Peri Brown
- Winston Churchill
- Tom Dekker
- Joachim von Ribbentrop
- Jeremy Carstairs
- Jennifer Buckingham
- Edward VIII
- Adolf Hitler
- Wallis Simpson
- Colonel Rodney Fitzsimmons
- Captain Aylmer Haldane
- Sir John Reith
- Captain Reitz
- Stanley Baldwin
- Martin Bormann
- Lieutenant von Schultz
- Chief Inspector Harris
- Count Ludwig Kroner and Countess Malika Treszka are aliases of certain Players.
- The Second Doctor claims with complete sincerity that he had met Count Dracula.
- Peri read Swamp Thing as a child.
- The Doctor considers taking Peri to Metebelis III.
- Adelebert was the king of Rigel Seven.
- The novel was reprinted on 7 March 2013 with a new cover to celebrate the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.
- The December 1936 sequences take place contemporaneously with the events of the novel Wolfsbane.
- This story is placed between The Mark of the Rani and The Two Doctors.
- The Doctor uses a Gallifreyan Army knife to escape a dungeon on Rigel Seven. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus, Blood Harvest)
- Peri complains about "lousy caves", (TV: The Caves of Androzani) "paranoid gastropods", (TV: The Twin Dilemma) the Cybermen (TV: Attack of the Cybermen) and "a punishment dome dedicated to torture and death". (TV: Vengeance on Varos)
- Later in his personal timeline, the Seventh Doctor would meet Tom Dekker in Chicago in 1929. When Dekker mentions that he knew a "funny little fella" called the Doctor who ran a speakeasy with a girl named Ace, Peri speculates that he may be referring to a future incarnation of the Doctor. The Sixth Doctor dismisses the idea out of hand. (PROSE: Blood Harvest)
- Winston Churchill meets the Doctor for the first time in his personal timeline in 1899 while he is in his sixth incarnation. He later meets the Second Doctor in November 1915 and the Sixth Doctor again in December 1936. He would later meet the Sixth Doctor for a third time in 1942 (PROSE: The Shadow in the Glass) and the Eleventh Doctor in 1941 (TV: Victory of the Daleks), along with an encounter with the Ninth Doctor in London in 1939, (AUDIO: The Oncoming Storm) which sees Churchill learn about the Doctor's true nature. Furthermore, the Eleventh Doctor would later meet a version of Churchill who existed in an alternative timeline in which all of history was occurring at once. In that timeline, Churchill was the Holy Roman Emperor. (TV: The Wedding of River Song)
- Martin Bormann notes that Hitler is becoming more prone to fits of uncontrollable rage and places a call to Doctor Kriegsleiter. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus)
- The Seventh Doctor would later meet Joachim von Ribbentrop once again in 1939. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus)
- The Eighth Doctor will meet the Players and the Countess again (PROSE: Endgame), and the Second Doctor will encounter the Countess after these events from her perspective while investigating her role in the Napoleonic Wars (PROSE: World Game).
- The Tenth Doctor would later meet Edward VIII's great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in 1879 (TV: Tooth and Claw) and his grandfather, Edward VII, in 1902. (PROSE: Revenge of the Judoon)
Additional cover images
- Official Players page at Penguin Books
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Players at The Whoniverse
- The Cloister Library: Players