Day of the Daleks
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks

Author Terrance Dicks Cover image
Published 1974
ISBN 0 426 10380 7
First Edition Cover Chris Achilleos

Back cover blurb: Mysterious humans from 22nd-century Earth 'time-jump' back into the 20th century so as to assassinate a high-ranking diplomat on whom the peace of the world depends. DOCTOR WHO, Jo Grant and the Brigadier are soon called in to investigate. Jo is accidentally transported forward to the 22nd century; the Doctor follows, eventually to be captured by his oldest and deadliest enemy - the DALEKS! Having submitted the Doctor to the fearful Mind Analysis Machine, the DALEKS plan a 'time-jump' attack on Earth in the 20th century!...


What makes this book so loved? by Tim Roll-Pickering 7/12/03

It seemed inevitable that one of the earliest Target originated adventures would be a Dalek novelisation. From the 1974 persepctive Day of the Daleks seems an obvious choice to begin with, since at the time it was a strong story which held up well with the only script problems being the limited use of the Daleks and the drift into cariacture in the portrayal of UNIT. (Although in hindsight the idea that history would assign responsibility for the destruction of a peace conference to a diplomat seeking power rather than to a rogue state or terrorist group seems very hard to swallow, back in the 1970s this was less obvious.) Both of these could be easily tidied up in a novelisation. Terrance Dicks had produced a strong first novelisation in the form of Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion and so by all rights this, his second contribution to the series, should be a strong read.

And yet something went wrong. I'm not sure just what though. Maybe it's because my copy is one of the 1980s editions that lacks the internal illustrations but apart from Dicks' failure to describe what a Dalek looks like, leaving it to the cover and illustration artists, I'm not sure that they are what makes this book so liked by many. The novelisation is broadly a straightforward adaptation of the televised version with some deleted scenes reinstated, such as the epilogue where the Doctor and Jo return to the laboratory and encounter themselves earlier in the story, and a few new moments such as the opening sequence in which Moni (renamed from Monia) sneaks out of his workcamp to brief a guerilla cell.

UNIT come accross as competent in this book but little effort is made to expand the use of the Daleks. One matter that Dicks does resolve is the appearance of a Gold Dalek leader in both Day of the Daleks and Planet of the Daleks whereas other Dalek stories feature Black Daleks. Here in the novel both are featured, with the Gold being superior to the Black and thus resolving the onscreen inconsistency. But other than this and the development of some characters' thought processes, most obviously the Controller's, this book just doesn't take off as well as the previous three Pertwee novelisations to be printed.

It's not a badly written book and can still be a good entertaining read. But for some reason it just doesn't set the world on fire. Maybe it's because the televised story is neither a disaster that needs rescuing for the novelisation, unlike Colony in Space which is improved no end when it becomes Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon, nor an out and out triumph, unlike Spearhead from Space which is both strong and translates well to the novelised form. It's a good read but one suspects so much more could have been done with this book. 5/10

This is Terrance Dicks? by Andrew Feryok 19/6/06

"Exterminate him (the Doctor)! Exterminate him! EXTERMINATE HIM! But there was something different about those voices. They held some quality the Controller had never heard before, and as he walked from the council hall he recognized it. The quality was fear. For the first time in the Controller's experience of them, the Daleks were actually afraid.
- The Controller telling the Daleks about the Doctor's arrival, page 80, The Day of the Daleks
Is this really by Terrance Dicks? I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that his earlier novelizations for Doctor Who are much better than his later ones (with some exceptions, such as The Caves of Androzani). This is such a departure from his normal work. It's filled with descriptions, great characterizations, well-defined settings and even manages to add to the original story and give it more depth. This is quite possibly the best novel I have read of his since Blood Harvest.

Terrance Dicks manages to avoid simply rewritting the script and delivers something that expands the story enormously. We are treated to an opening chapter set in the future before the events of the story as a resistance member picks his way through a wasteland, outsmarts some Ogrons and breaks into the Dalek Control Center. When the Doctor reaches the future Earth, Dicks' descriptions of the future are much better than the BBC realized on screen. The scene is described as being something out of the future from Terminator. Just replace the giant killer robots with Ogrons! Dicks even manages to make the incredibly lame go-kart chase from the later episodes of the TV story exciting! Dicks rationalizes the enormous rubber tires as being made specially so that the kart can ride swiftly and easily over the enormous vistas of rubble that span the landscapes of the future. There is also an epilogue added in which the Doctor's time experiments from the beginning of the story, while tinkering with the TARDIS, double back on themselves creating a humorous and startling final moment after the excitement of the "real" ending.

The characterizations are some of the best done by Terrance Dicks. Like his adaptation of Tom Baker, Dicks captures Pertwee perfectly in all his flare, arrogance, and heroism. The Doctor uses his Venusian Akido a lot in this story and takes great delight in using high speed vehicles to make his escapes. The Brigadier and Jo Grant are also well-drawn, but due to the time period of this story in UNIT's history, the Brigadier is more of an unorganized bufoon while Grant is a helpless child. Definitely not the UNIT we knew from previous seasons of the show or books. Benton and Mike Yates are also well characterized, although Mike Yates does come off as a bully as he abuses his rank to get "privileges" over Benton, but that is more a fault of the original script.

Probably the best character in the book, as in the original TV story, is the Controller. Dicks really gets inside the head of this character making us privy to his thoughts and rationalizations of what is going on around him. We get to see a more first-hand view of how he evolves into the man who will let the Doctor go in order to save the Earth (possibly one of my favorite scenes of the Pertwee years). The Controller is a kind and even a conscientious man who would leap at a chance to save humanity, but genuinely believes that the Daleks are too powerful to oppose and so he doesn't try. Definitely one of the best tragic characters of the series.

I, at long last, finally realize why the Ogrons are seen as humorous characters. I was puzzled by everyone's pronouncement of the Ogrons as hysterical comic relief when all I saw on the TV screen was a mindless non-speaking henchmen. It is in this novel that the Ogrons finally gain some character and we have Terrance Dicks to thank for it. The Ogrons are a very unintelligent race who have only one desire: to kill humans. The only thing that keeps them from doing so is their fear of the Daleks and their demands. The Ogrons come across as much more terrifying in the novel as few weapons are able to slow them down, they have superhuman strength and can move and terrifying speeds. Definitely a monster you would not want to mess with!

The full terror of the Daleks is also realized in this story. Although Daleks do appear in the council rooms, they also make appearances on the battlefields as well, as they track down the resistance with the Ogrons and the escaping Doctor. But the point of the Daleks in this story, and one of the reasons why I think this one of my favorite '70s Daleks stories, is that the Daleks are not meant to be cannon fodder or shock troops. The Daleks are the brains behind the operations. This is still the old, calculating Daleks from the 1960s who prefer to delegate the task of oppression to others, not unlike their use of robomen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth from the William Hartnell years. Dicks makes sure that the fear of the Daleks and their retribution is felt by everyone from the Doctor to the humans living in the future, to even the Ogrons themselves. Even if the Daleks are rarely seen, their presence is always felt and you know these metal monsters mean business and will not tolerate insurrection or disobedience of any kind.

The time travel aspects of this story are really what stops this from being an otherwise average story. If you really think about it, this is very similar to Inferno only with Daleks rather than Primords. However, the use of time paradoxes and the brilliant revelation that the guerillas caused their own horrible future is what sets this apart as a unique offering from the Jon Pertwee years. The story sets the scene with the Doctor's humorous time experiments and rolls on from there to more terrifying and dangerous uses of time travel as we learn about the guerillas and the Daleks.

Overall, this is a slightly above average Pertwee story that has been very well brought to life by Terrance Dicks. With great characters like the Controller, the Ogrons and the Doctor, the story manages to move at a good pace. Despite some characterization problems for the Brigadier, Jo Grant and Mike Yates, which are not Terrance Dicks fault but rather the original script writer's, this story actually adds to original providing us a deeper look into this terrifying future and make so much more scary than the TV episode that you are genuinely rooting for the Doctor to prevent this future from coming about. It is a thrilling Pertwee story and definitely his best Dalek story followed closely by Death to the Daleks. A solid 8/10.

PS: Once again, I read the Pinnacle version of this novel which is identical to the Target version with some few changes: a foreword explaining the phenomenon of Doctor Who to US readers and an excerpt in the back from another time travel adventure book series called Blade. This version also lacks the original Target illustrations. In fact, I didn't know there were illustrations in the book until I looked them up on the wonderful On Target website. My favorite is the Doctor lounging in Sir Reginald Styles living room with cheese and wine with Jo looking on in disappointment.