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

Dinosaurs and Traitors minus the Whomobile by Andrew Feryok 24/5/14

"I look for no personal gain, sir. All I want is a new world. Earth used to be a simpler, cleaner place. It has all become too complicated and corrupt. We intend to roll back Time."
"Can Whitaker really do that?" asked the Doctor.
"I believe so. All the preliminary experiments have been successful." Yates smiled. "We shall find ourselves in the Golden Age."
"Mike, believe me," the Doctor implored, "there never was a Golden Age. It's a myth, an illusion."
"Not this time," replied Yates. "We're going to make it all come true."
- The Doctor tries to reason with the traitor Mike Yates, Doctor Who and The Dinosaur Invasion, Page 124, Chapter 9
Invasion of the Dinosaurs remains not only Malcolm Hulke's most overlooked story, but also one of the most overlooked epics in Doctor Who's long history. The scale of the story is up there with any other epic story like The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Invasion or Trial of a Time Lord. The problem is that its first episode was missing in color, thus preventing it from being re-broadcast or released often, and its infamous special effects, whose reputation has preceded it, conquered what was left of its good name. But Hulke's adaptation for print rescues the story's reputation and allows it to stand tall once more! Since the imagination has an infinite budget and always comes in color, this story is allowed to stand on its own merits as a story rather than bogged down by technical deficiencies. And Hulke's story is a massively clever one, mixing dinosaurs, epic invasions of Earth, subterfuge on a fake spaceship and lots of wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey shenanigans. We even have one of the Doctor's closest friends turn genuinely evil in one of the most disturbing plot elements ever in a Doctor Who story.

As in his other books, Hulke takes a great deal of liberty in telling his story. He never strays from the episode-to-episode plot, but often times he'll delete unnecessary sequences in order to cut out the padding and speed up the story. For instance, the Doctor's entire chase sequence where he is hunted by soldiers who pursue him in a jeep from part 5 is completely deleted. Or the fact that when Sarah steps out of the airlock door on the fake space ship, Hulke skips over all the scenes of Sarah's tense escape from the underground bunker and Sir Charles' office and simply skips to when she arrives at UNIT HQ to find everyone gone. Other times, he adds extra sequences to explain some extra facets of the story. For instance, he adds a scene to the Doctor and Sarah's exploration of the deserted London in which they visit a restaurant intent on getting Sarah a snack, only to find the plates of food abandoned as if in mid-meal and the food rotting on the countertops. Or a sequence when General Finch warns Sir Charles about the Doctor's recapture by the Brigadier and his suspicions that the Brigadier is no longer under their thumb. Sir Charles during this new scene explains to Finch why he doesn't just kill Sarah instead of going to the trouble of keeping her prisoner. It seems that Sir Charles admires Sarah's spunk and feels it would be a useful quality for his new people's society even if he doesn't like her counter-cultural influence on her group.

Hulke of course is a master of using the novelization to deepen the characters. For instance, Whitaker isn't a dull scientist, but a self-important and arrogant know-it-all who looks down on everyone else and loves when everyone recognizes what a genius he is. Butler now has a scar on his cheek and later when Sarah taunts him about it, he surprises her by explaining he used to be a fireman and got it after he fell out of a window trying to rescue a child from a burning building! Hulke also makes repeated explanations as to why Captain Yates has turned traitor by linking the evens of this story directly to the events of Doctor Who and The Green Death, which he also adapted for Target. His depiction of the Brigadier has vastly improved since his adaptation of The Green Death, making him a more serious character instead of a blow-hard and he treats Sarah Jane with a lot more respect as a central hero of the story than he did Jo Grant, whom he seems to think is an idiot that everyone can chauvinistically pat on the head and dismiss. And while we don't get lush descriptions of the dinosaurs on display in the story, Hulke does make a point to have the Doctor fill us in on details of various dinosaurs natural history, which probably thrilled dinosaur-obsessed children at the time.

The book ends with two moral messages that stay with the reader long after: that rather than run from the problems of humanity, we should confront them head on and try to change them for he better, and also to keep your imagination thriving and your mind open to all sorts of new ideas. Hulke couldn't have left us with a better message. This is easily up there with Doctor Who and The Cave Monsters as one of his very best books and adventures. A fantastic, must-read novelisation for the series.