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.

Novelisation covers Edit

Reprints and other title covers Edit

Publishing history Edit

MonthTitleWriterCover Artist
JanuaryDoctor Who and the Creature from the PitDavid FisherDavid Dennington
AprilDoctor Who and the Enemy of the WorldIan MarterBill Donohoe
JulyReissue: Doctor Who and the CybermenGerry DavisNew cover: Bill Donohoe
OctoberDoctor Who and an Unearthly ChildTerrance DicksAndrew Skilleter
OctoberThe Doctor Who Programme Guide Volume 1Jean-Marc LofficierBill Donohoe
OctoberThe Doctor Who Programme Guide Volume 2Jean-Marc LofficierBill Donohoe
DecemberThe Doctor Who Quiz BookNigel Robinson

Publishing notes Edit

  • 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.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Stream the best stories.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Get Disney+