Fiction Reviews

Doctor Who: Rose

(2018) Russell T. Davies, BBC Books, £6.99 / Can$14.99 / US$9.99, pbk, 197pp, ISBN 978-1-785-94326-3


I’m good at predicting things. I remember reading a snippet of news in Starburst or some other science fiction magazine about Peter Jackson shooting Lord of the Things in New Zealand with Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins and Iain McKellen as Gandalf, and thinking to myself: “Well, that’s going to be a load of old rubbish”. Likewise, when I read that the BBC were bringing back Doctor Who with Russell T. Davies at the helm and Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, I thought: “Well, that’s going to be a load of old rubbish”. How wrong I was on both counts!

But was it really a whole 13 years ago that Doctor Who made a triumphant return to the small screen and Eccleston uttered the immortal line: “Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!”?

Yes, this is the novel based on the first of the rebooted Doctor Who stories that was broadcast on 26 March 2005 where in a lair somewhere beneath central London, a malevolent alien intelligence is plotting the end of humanity. Shop window dummies that can move – and kill – are taking up key positions, ready to strike. Meanwhile, Rose Tyler, an ordinary Londoner, is working her shift in a department store, unaware that this is the most important day of her life. She is about to meet the only man who understands the true nature of the threat facing Earth, a stranger who will open her eyes to all the wonder and terror of the universe – a traveller in time and space known as the Doctor.

Since Terrence Dicks wasn’t given the gig to turn this Doctor screen story into a book, who better to do it, than the man who actually wrote the script and looked after the show in the Eccleston/Tennant years, so Davies gives us a twenty chapter long book that looks like one of the old-style Target books with a cover showing the ninth Doctor brandishing his sonic screwdriver, his soon to be companion Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper looking suitably anxious and the heads of two dummies also appear in the cover along with some space/time travel illustrations.

Davies’ original script would have contained the dialogue and directions for the actors, but here he is able to flesh that out fully by turning it into a novel and taking the opportunity to add a bit of character development for Rose and the much put upon, Mickey, as well as adding a whole lot – and I mean a whole lot – of references to other Doctors ranging from the first Doctor right through to the thirteenth, although not surprising there is a little bit more to do with the tenth Doctor and some of the other scripts penned for Tennant’s Doctor. Whovians, will love this, and even mildly contaminated Who fans will enjoy all the references to other things in the Who universe. A cracking start to the regeneration of the Target titles.

Ian Hunter

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