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The Ambassadors of Death was the 1987 Target novelisation of the Doctor Who serial of the same name. It was written by Terrance Dicks, based upon a script by David Whitaker.

Publisher's summary[]

1987 Target Books edition[]

Seven months after it left Mars there has still been no radio communication with the Probe Seven spacecraft or the astronauts inside it. Back on Earth concern is mounting and eventually a recovery capsule is sent up to rescue the astronauts.

But when the capsule returns to Earth it is found to be empty. As the Doctor and Liz investigate, they discover that the interior of the capsule is highly radioactive: if anyone was inside they would now surely be dead.

Have the astronauts returned to Earth? And if not, who are the sinister space-suited figures who stalk the countryside and whose very touch means instant death?

1991 Target Books edition[]


Seven months after leaving Mars, the Probe 7 ship has not returned to Earth. And the rescue ship returns - poisoned with radiation and apparently abandoned. Whatever piloted it back to Earth is not human... The Doctor must negotiate with an alien intelligence for the return of its ambassadors - or face the destruction of the Earth...

The Doctor must negotiate with an alien intelligence for the return of its ambassadors - or face the destruction of the Earth...

The Ambassadors of Death, featuring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, was written by David Whitaker and broadcast in 1970. This adaptation is by Terrance Dicks, who was script editor of Doctor Who for five years and who has written more than sixty novelizations of the television stories.

Doctor Who - The Ambassadors of Death has recently been broadcast on BSB television.

Chapter titles[]

  1. 'Something Took Off from Mars...'
  2. 'That Sound--It Was Some Kind Of Message...'
  3. 'They'll Never Survive...'
  4. 'Recovery Seven--It's On The Way Back!'
  5. 'The Capsule Has Landed.'
  6. 'They've Started To Crack The Code...'
  7. 'You Must Feed Them Radiation--Or They'll Die!'
  8. 'We've Got To Get That Rocket Up!'
  9. 'Someone's Threatening To Kill Miss Shaw!'
  10. 'An Attack On The Space Centre?'
  11. 'Do You Really Think They're Not Human?'
  12. 'Large Unidentified Object Approaching On Collision Course...'
  13. 'The Capsule Will Be Smashed To Fragments...'
  14. 'Your Doctor Friend Is As Dead As A Doornail...'
  15. 'We May Not Have Much More Time!'
  16. 'We're Being Invaded!'

Deviations from televised story[]

  • Reporter John Wakefield is renamed Michael Wakefield, possibly in tribute to the actor who played him in the televised story, Michael Wisher.
  • The Time Lords wiped the Doctor's knowledge about the Ambassador's species.
  • The Doctor is said to have learned the parade ground shout he uses to trick Collinson at Waterloo.
  • There are no casualties in the battle between UNIT and Collinson's men.
  • The astronauts are first referred to as "ambassadors" in a conversation between Carrington and Quinlan, much earlier than in the televised version.
  • The names of some minor characters like Parker, Champion and Johnson are not given.
  • Carrington is not identified in his scene with Heldorf.
  • Several lines of dialogue are omitted or glossed over, notably Liz asking Reegan if the Brigadier survived the attack on the Space Centre.
  • Van Lyden's name is spelt Van Leyden.
  • There is back story given for Reegan not mentioned in the televised version: He is said to have been born in Ireland and started off robbing banks for the IRA, only to flee to America and become a mercenary criminal when they found out he was keeping most of the money for himself.

Writing and publishing notes[]

  • It was the first time for a while that Jon Pertwee's likeness had been used on the cover of a Target novelisation. However, Pertwee himself was unhappy with the likeness presented, and so the cover illustration was redrawn with different lighting so as to bring out the actors's silver hair.
  • The publication of this title completed the Third Doctor's novelisations. His era was the first to be completely adapted.

Additional cover images[]

British publication history[]

Hardback (May 1987)
  • W.H.Allen & Co. Ltd. UK ISBN:0491037120, copies priced £7.50 (UK))
Paperback (October 1987)
  • Target / W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd. Single paperback edition, estimated print run: 27,500, priced £1.95 (UK).
Paperback (March 1991)
  • Target / Virgin Publishing New cover artwork by Alister Pearson, estimated print run: 5,000, priced £2.50 (UK).


This Target Book was released as an audiobook on 4 January 2018 complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Geoffrey Beevers.

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[]