Polystyle Holiday Special is an invented name for a loose "series" of three 1970s releases by Polystyle — the Doctor Who Holiday Specials 1973 and 1974 and the Doctor Who Winter Special 1977.

Publication details[]

The 1973 and 1974 editions feature the Third Doctor. They contain a mixture of original short stories and comic strips. They have the feel of a Doctor Who annual, without the children's games and puzzles that are usually present in such books. These editions contain some interesting and rare Polystyle usage of televised characters.

Published in the waning years of the Polystyle licence, the 1977 edition couldn't be more different. It is reprint-heavy, as reflects the state of the TV Comic strip of the late 1970s, and its one original story confuses televised continuity entirely.



The 1973 volume is quite faithful to Doctor Who as it was then being televised. It makes thorough and in-character use of UNIT, the Brigadier and the Master. It contains both a comic story and a short story using the Master. That alone is unusual — most non-televised stories with the Delgado Master being published in the 1990s — but the fact that these came while Roger Delgado was still alive makes them quite extraordinary.

As an example of the effort this volume makes to be faithful to television, one story even mentions Mike Yates. He didn't actually appear, but it was the only time the the character ever got a namecheck in comics published contemporaneously with the Pertwee era.

Stories original to this volume Reprints
Fogbound COMIC: Duel of the Daleks
reprinted as "Dalek Duel"
Smash Hit
Secret of the Tower


The 1974 special actually does earn the word special. It's where Sarah Jane Smith — or as Polystyle preferred, Sarah-Jane Smith — makes her comics debut. Until the publication of In With the Tide in 2013, it was also the only appearance Sarah-Jane made alongside the Third Doctor in Doctor Who comics.


As with the previous year's special, UNIT and the Brigadier are back, this time with Sergeant Benton appearing in one story. Moreover, the notion of parallel universes is explored in Who's Who?, which — as an occasional theme of the Third Doctor's televised era — further makes this volume feel like a more faithful representation of Pertwee's time in the TARDIS than is typical for the ongoing Polystyle comic strip.

It is also interesting for having been released during the initial broadcast of Planet of the Spiders. It's thus a kind of "last hurrah" for the Third Doctor which would have been experienced by many contemporary readers after they knew a new Doctor was on his way. Still, just as with the Second Doctor, Polystyle would stretch out the Third Doctor's comic era for months after the televised regeneration. The Third Doctor still had more than six months of life in the pages of TV Comic after the publication of this volume.

Stories original to this volume Reprints
Doomcloud COMIC: Power Play
reprinted as simply, "The Daleks"
Perils of Paris
Who's Who?



The 1977 edition stars the Fourth Doctor and is far poorer in terms of its original offerings. It has no original comics, instead preferring to reprint a number of stories that had originally starred the Third Doctor. As is common to the final years of the Polystyle comic licence, a (usually poor) attempt at Tom Baker's likeness is merely dropped into the part of the frames previously occupied by Jon Pertwee. Its one contribution to the body of Doctor Who fiction is a short story featuring the Fourth Doctor and Leela in Victorian England. Its illustrations are merely photos from The Talons of Weng-Chiang, meaning that there aren't even original illustrations in the 1977 edition, much less comics.

Stories original to this volume Reprints
The Living Wax COMIC: The Labyrinth
COMIC: The Threat from Beneath
COMIC: The Spoilers
COMIC: Who is the Stranger

Why "Polystyle Holiday Special"?[]

The somewhat artificial name is necessary because the three editions weren't really a part of any ongoing publication — despite the claim on the 1977 issue's cover that there was some sort of connection to (Mighty) TV Comic. Thus, "Polystyle Holiday Special" serves to clearly distinguish between these publications and others that are called "Holiday Specials", such as the TV Action Holiday Specials of 1970 and 1971, and the 1992 Holiday special edition of Doctor Who Magazine.

In addition, these three volumes are sometimes mistaken for TV Comic or TV Action annuals, but they aren't. In the first place, their publication schedule didn't match that of a British annual. Not only were they not published for the Christmas market — "holiday" specials being published for summer — but they weren't all published at the same time of year. Moreover, both TV Comic and TV Action had their own, proper annuals — quite separate publications, which contained bits from the full range of properties for whom Polystyle then had a comic strip licence.

Thus, these specials were all standalone publications, and weren't actually part of any series.

Still, they are roughly similar publications, by the same publisher, and convenience demands that these effective "orphans" be somehow grouped. Thus, for clarity, they are placed under a name which doesn't quite appear on the cover or in the indicia of any of the three publications.