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.



Target Books' Doctor Who output in 1981 was unusually low — at least in terms of novelisations. As had happened in 1973, Target only added three titles to their catalogue. Importantly, though, the adaptation of An Unearthly Child debuted this year. At the same time, editorial policy changed at Target, so as to give preference to the commissioning of the serial's original screenwriter wherever possible.

If it was a sparse year for novelisations, however, it was a reasonably eventful one for Doctor Who non-fiction. The first programme guide was published in 1981, offering many fans their initial exposure to a complete listing of Doctor Who serials. Target also launched its range of quiz and puzzle books with The Doctor Who Quiz Book, and gave fans their first look at a kind of "Doctor Who timeline" with The Terrestrial Index.


No. Title Author Doctor Featuring Based on Released
011 Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit David Fisher 4th Romana II, K9 Mark II The Creature from the Pit 15 January 1981
024 Doctor Who and the Enemy of the World Ian Marter 2nd Jamie, Victoria, Ramón Salamander The Enemy of the World 16 April 1981
068 Doctor Who and an Unearthly Child Terrance Dicks 1st Susan, Ian, Barbara An Unearthly Child 15 October 1981

Novelisation covers[]

Other Books[]

Title Author Released
The Doctor Who Programme Guide Volume 1 Jean-Marc Lofficier 21 May 1981
The Doctor Who Programme Guide Volume 2
The Doctor Who Quiz Book Nigel Robinson 10 December 1981

Reprints and other books covers[]

Publishing notes[]

  • Beginning with the 1981 releases, there was a noticeable change in the format of the Target Book series. Up until this point, with a few exceptions (such as Brian Hayles and Gerry Davis), Target Books usually commissioned one of its staff writers to write the novelisations (more often than not, Terrance Dicks, but also Malcolm Hulke and several Doctor Who TV producers). The release of Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit marked the start of a concerted effort by Target to, whenever possible, commission the original teleplay writer to also write the novelisation; in this initial case, David Fisher. This practise soon extended to include script writers from the 1960s as well; if the original writer was not available or not willing, Target would commission a staff writer such as Dicks or Ian Marter to take on the job (due to the smaller-than-usual number of releases in 1981, this means scriptwriter-penned novelisations would not begin to appear in force until 1982). This practice continued through to the end of the Target novelisations series.