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prose stub

The Dying Days was a 1997 Virgin Books New Adventures novel written by Lance Parkin.

It was the final New Adventures novel published before Virgin lost the Doctor Who license to BBC Books, and as such, it represented a shift in focus from the Doctor to Bernice Summerfield. It was the only story in the series to feature the Eighth Doctor.

Publisher's summary[]

6 May 1997

The Dying Days of the Twentieth Century

On the Mare Sirenum, British astronauts are walking on the surface of Mars for the first time in over twenty years. The National Space Museum in London is the venue for a spectacular event where the great and the good celebrate a unique British achievement.

In Adisham, Kent, the most dangerous man in Britain has escaped from custody while being transported by helicopter. In Whitehall, the new Home Secretary is convinced that there is a plot brewing to overthrow the government. In west London, MI5 agents shut down a publishing company that got too close to the top secret organisation known as UNIT. And, on a state visit to Washington, the British Prime Minister prepares to make a crucial speech, totally unaware that dark forces are working against him.

As the Eighth Doctor and Professor Bernice Summerfield discover, all these events are connected. However, soon all will be overshadowed.

This time, the Doctor is already too late.


to be added



The Doctor[]


  • When crowned, the British monarch agrees to serve Jesus Christ. Unaware of Christianity, an enraged Xznaal believes he's being offered joint sovereignty.



  • The United Nations is overseen by an Irish woman. (Lance Parkin had assumed Mary Robinson would be the next Secretary-General instead of Kofi Annan[1])
  • UNIT has a branch in Paris called NUIT.
  • UNIT in the past has dealt with attempted invasions by the Bandrils and Drahvins without the Doctor's help. (Lance Parkin stated this was a joke at UNIT's expense that some aliens are "beneath the Doctor's dignity" to deal worth)[2]
  • The Martian Communicators Guild is an Ice Warrior organisation.


  • Water is a source of great wealth on Mars.



  • The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to reflect an Ice Warrior's sonic blast.
  • After being blown out of the Ice Warrior's War Rocket, the Doctor creates several balloons to slow his descent out of bin bags, curtain rings, and a cannister of helium.


  • The Arcturan Treaty of 2085 is the official date of peaceful first contact with aliens.
  • Mars Probe 13 was launched over twenty years ago.
  • Benny Summerfield is unaware who are the current leaders in the US and UK as there's been elections within the last nine months.


  • The Brigadier kept Bessie in mothballs for the Doctor.

Cultural references from the real world[]

  • Benny looks at a John Smith and the Common Men album when she and the Doctor are searching Todd's flat.
  • The BBC cancels The X-Files (a joke on the BBC cancelling shows that accidentally resemble a recent tragedy).
  • Rebellious cities in the north are called Royalist


  • This is the Eighth Doctor's only appearance in the New Adventures book series.
  • Although this story was officially the final of Virgin's Doctor Who New Adventures, it was in fact not the last to be published: due to production delays, the Seventh Doctor novel So Vile a Sin, which had been planned for release several months earlier, was only published a month after The Dying Days.
  • Until the release of The Company of Friends over ten years later, this novel held the distinction of being the only appearance of Bernice Summerfield alongside the Eighth Doctor.
  • After The Dying Days, Virgin Books continued to release New Adventures novels centered around Bernice Summerfield. The Dying Days ends with Bernice going to her new home at the University of Dellah.
  • This novel was re-released by BBCi on the official Doctor Who website in ebook form, accompanied by extensive notes and commentary from author Lance Parkin and new illustrations by artist Allan Bednar.[3]
  • At the Mars landing party there are a few notable guests: Jeremy Paxman, Richard Dawkins, Chris Evans, Gillian Anderson, Richard Branson, Alan Yentob, Emma Knight, and Lalla Ward. The real-world figures abruptly disappear when the invasion occurs, both to avoid calling anyone real a collaborator and because "there would have been something irredeemably camp about having Gazza or Scary Spice joining the fight".[4]
  • Benny's knowledge specialty of the 20th century ranges from 1963 to 1989, a reference to the period of the TV series' original run.
  • Benny is unaware who the Prime Minister or President are. In his notes for BBCi, Parkin states this is to get around the fact there would be elections in both countries between him writing the book and Virgin publishing it.
  • When Xznaal is seen from the point of view of Greyhaven, the Doctor, or Benny, the pronoun Parkin uses for Xznaal is "he". From anyone else's point of view, Parkin refers to Xznaal as "it". When viewed from the Ice Warrior's point of view, the human names are written in Ice Warrior pronunciation, such as Gerayhavun/Greyhaven, Xztaynz/Staines.
  • Philip Segal reportedly stated that a big alien invasion couldn't be done on the TV movie's budget because of the cost of multiple prosthetic costumes and the cost of showing a full alien invasion. The Dying Days features an alien invasion with three Ice Warriors; there are never more than two Ice Warriors in a room together throughout the book.
  • In his notes, Parkin says an original idea in the story was that the humans would routinely talk about how the Ice Warriors had a noble warrior culture but the Ice Warriors themselves would all be sadistic thugs.
  • The book's concluding chapter ends with Benny initiating a sexual encounter with the Doctor, a first for the franchise in any licensed media. The event was again referenced in the Big Finish audio drama Benny's Story.
  • The book did not feature the Doctor Who logo anywhere on its cover, spine, or interior. Since the Seventh Doctor's logo was thought to be inappropriate for an Eighth Doctor book, but BBC Books had exclusive rights to the new Eighth Doctor logo, the Virgin Publishing logo was used on the spine instead. In addition, the title Doctor Who appeared nowhere on the back cover or interior pages before the copyright page. There is also a brief mention on an acknowledgements page.
  • The book concludes with an afterword, "The End and a new beginning", signed by the editors of the New Adventures line, acknowledging this as the final Doctor Who New Adventure and promoting the future Virgin Bernice Summerfield New Adventures releases.
  • The novel's title was inspired by the lyrics of Gladys Knight's License to Kill.
  • Parkin's short stories Worm and Fishy Business, published respectively in 1998's Perfect Timing and 1999's Perfect Timing 2, followed this novel by portraying an alternate timeline where the Doctor and Benny became lovers and continued to travel together for years following the Martian invasion. Benny would be seen pregnant in the Doctor's memories in Parkin's The Infinity Doctors.

Deleted scenes[]

  • In an earlier draft, a short scene in chapter 9 included thinly-veiled cameos of Mulder and Scully from The X-Files; this was removed due to editor Rebecca Levene's fears that Virgin Books "might have our arses sued off."[5]
  • Parkin wrote several drafts of a scene in the epilogue designed to explain Jason Kane's return to 26th century Dellah. Each one contained information about the Final Dalek War.[5] Later, Parkin made up names for each draft, "in true Nth Doctor style".[6]
    • The first draft, Valeyard of the Daleks, showed Kane being returned to Dellah by the 42nd Doctor and his wife Iphegenia but, along the way, being attacked by a Dalek WAR-DIS. However, after observing the draft's unpopularity, Parkin scrapped it without sending it to an editor. He later published it on rec.arts.drwho.[6]
    • The second draft, Eulogy of the Daleks, kept the premise of the 42nd Doctor and Iphegenia but was set after the end of the Final Dalek War,[5] with the Doctor giving a eulogy for the last Dalek. It was printed in Matrix 54.[6]
    • The third, shorter draft,[5] Basically Eulogy of the Daleks, was similar to Eulogy of the Daleks, but with an old, unmarried Eighth Doctor rather than the 42nd Doctor.[6]
    • The fourth, shorter draft, Timewyrm: Apocripha, was very different from the other three. It would have featured Chris Cwej, the Timewyrm, and Iranda,[6] rather than the Daleks. Both the third and fourth drafts were sub-par, so Parkin cut the scene entirely.[5]
  • A cameo appearance by Tom Baker was also cut.[5] In the final draft, Lalla Ward appeared at the Mars landing party.

E-Book illustrations[]


External links[]