Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion

Author Malcolm Hulke Cover image
Published 1975
ISBN 0 426 10874 4
First Edition Cover Chris Achilleos

Back cover blurb: The Doctor walked slowly forward into the cul-de-sac. The giant dinosaur turned its head to focus on the midget now approaching... the Doctor aimed his gun to fire... suddenly from behind came a great roar of anger. He spun round - blocking the exit from the narrow street towered a tyrannosaurus rex, its savage jaws dripping with blood... The Doctor and Sarah arrive back in the TARDIS to find London completely deserted - except for the dinosaurs. Has the return of these prehistoric creatures been deliberately planned and, if so, who can be behind it all?


Dodgy dinosaur effects not included by Tim Roll-Pickering 5/1/04

The television story Invasion of the Dinosaurs routinely comes in for criticism for the realisation of the dinosaurs, despite the fact that they are literally a sideshow with the real plot revolving around the conspiracy to bring about Operation Golden Age. In print there is less risk of the dinosaur effects letting the side down, and with Malcolm Hulke already having a strong track record at producing novelisations all the portents seem in favour for this adaptation. However sometimes having such favourable circumstances can result in the finished product being so over anticipated that the outcome can be a major disappointment.

Fortunately that is not the case here. As ever Hulke takes the opportunity to show events from the point of view of individual characters, even right down to dinosaurs as they seek to come to terms with the world around them as they arrive in the twentieth century and there is a sense that they are as terrified as the humans. The human characters come across as equally sympathetic, with Whitaker portrayed as a man driven by a self-righteous ego, disliking much of the details of his operation and those he has to work with but driven by the shared goal of making the Earth a better place. Butler also translates well, gaining a noticeable scar on his face which makes him unliked by others, most notably Whitaker, but in an especially effective scene he reveals how he obtained it whilst working as a fire fighter saving a child's life. Such little touches help to make each character come to life and so the novel feels more alive than many a more mundane translation of a script to the printed page.

Hulke makes a few subtle changes to the story as well. Gone is the Doctor's futuristic car, replaced by more conventional military vehicles as he moves through London (as in the original scripts) whilst there's an interesting sequence at the start in which we are introduced to Shughie McPherson, a Glaswegian football fan who passes out during the evacuation of London and finds himself in an abandoned street, surviving until he encounters something that finishes him off, thus instantly attracting and holding the reader's interest (especially the casual buyer glancing at the first few pages in a bookshop).

If there's one area which Hulke does not devote too much time too, it is the "space travellers" heading towards New Earth and the images of Earth as an overpopulated and polluted environment. Hulke devoted a good chunk of Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon and Doctor who and the Green Death to these themes so to once more retread the same ground would have become repetitive, especially given the limited space within the book. The one really noticeable weakness is the characterisation of the Brigadier. He states that he never thought he'd see the day when he has to blow up London Underground stations (I wonder if the fledgling Doctor Who Appreciation Society had a field day crucifying this novelisation on its original printing, especially given one of the other adaptations in the same year...). More generally the Brigadier is portrayed as the comic buffoon of the later Pertwee years who makes blatently obvious and irrelevant comments that send the character up. Given that onscreen Invasion of the Dinosaurs is one of the noticeable exceptions to this, showing the Brigadier and UNIT in a more serious light, Hulke's decision to go with the more comical portrayal is a surprise and the result is the one weakness in an otherwise strong book. 9/10