back to article Now it's Terrance Dicks' turn to regenerate: Golden-age Doctor Who mainstay dies aged 84

Long before I read John Wyndham's dystopian horror stories The Day of The Triffids and The Kraken Wakes, I snatched terrifying glimpses of Terrance Dicks' work in the Doctor Who episodes, "Terror of the Autons" (1971) and "The Sea Devils" (1972). This was while hiding behind the sofa in CERN accommodation as my father …

  1. Alister

    So, just curious Lucy, when did you read Wyndham's books?

    In my case I'd read Wyndham and Wells and various others for quite a while before I came across Dr Who, and I read the books from Target for a long time before I actually saw a Dr Who episode.

    However, this may be because we didn't get a television until 1978, so I joined halfway through Tom Baker's reign.

    My recollections of Terrance Dicks are therefore mostly as a writer of the books.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As a child of the 80s, just about remembering Caves of Androzani, all of my early recollections of his work were from Target Novelisations too.

  2. juice Silver badge

    I have fond memories of those books

    If you jump in the Tardis to go back to the 80s, there was virtually no way to watch old Doctor Who episodes - we were still getting over the novelty of a /fourth/ TV channel, all the TV stations turned themselves off overnight (ah, the old test-card pictures!), video players were expensive and the BBC hadn't yet geared up it's media and marketing mechanisms.

    Thankfully, the local libraries had loads of TD's books in the "teenage" section. And so I got to experience a lot of older Doctor Who stories through the power of text!

    I'm still never quite sure if I should be at least a bit regretful for not seeing the original TV episodes, with their overly dramatic ham-acting, paper-mache sets and zero-budget special effects. But at the same time, there's a strong case to be made that the books allowed the spirit of DW to shine through in a way which was sometimes better than what the show could achieve.

    Either way, thanks Terrence!

    1. Valerion

      Re: I have fond memories of those books

      This. Just, absolutely this.

      I was a massive fan as a child, but had no way to watch it (McCoy era) unless it happened to actually be on TV at that time.

      The library had a huge collection of the books, and I pretty much read them all. Many of them multiple times.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

        Re: I have fond memories of those books

        The books were always better

  3. iron Silver badge

    I always loved his Who books and read a few of his others too as a teen in the 80s. Thanks for the read Terry.

  4. PipV
    Thumb Up

    Terror of the Autons

    Was my first read of his as a kid while on holiday. Fab stuff. Thanks Terrence and RIP.

  5. AIBailey

    I lost count of the number of Target DW books I read in my early teens. Not all of the written by Terrance, but he certainly made up the bulk of them. Some great memories of episodes that I never got to watch in person, but still know the story thanks to his writing.

  6. Garry Perez

    Great fellow!

  7. Dr Who

    In my view morals started to slip with the introduction of jelly babies, but I don't think Mr Dicks was responsible for that. RIP and thank you.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      No, that would be either Mervyn Haisman or Henry Lincoln, who had the 2nd Doctor nibble on some jelly babies in The Dominators.

  8. alimack

    Thanks for the memories

    I started reading the Doctor Who books before I watched the TV series. I've probably read more books by Terry than any other author, it was the only way in those days to catch up with missed episodes/ review the shows. RIP, Terry.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ahh - the good days when doctor who scripts actually were something special, when the doctor traveled the universe, meeting aliens and other civilizations - and not the politically correct garbage that's now pretending to be doctor who....I remember riding my bike to the library every few days looking for a new doctor who book to read....

    the current writers should go back a read some of the old stories and actually come up with some decent scripts for a change....maybe I'd start watching the show again then...

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Sad that we've lost him

    And I agree that the writing in the modern episodes leaves quite a bit ti be desired.

    RIP Terrance

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: Sad that we've lost him

      Normally, if I see a downvote I just shrug and forget it. But this one annoys me. It shows total lack of respect, not for me, but for the guy I was showing respect for. So whoever you are:

      You can fuck right off

      1. Paul 195

        Re: Sad that we've lost him

        @Will Godfrey

        I'm not the originator of your downvote, but you made two separate and unconnected statements in your original post. One of which was that you thought the writing in modern episodes left much to be desired. Some of the reboot era stories are actually better than those from the first time around, and some are just awful. Maybe someone was objecting to your blanket statement, rather than to "RIP Terrance Dicks". I'd hope no-one would downvote that.

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: Sad that we've lost him

          "Some of the reboot era stories are actually better than those from the first time around, and some are just awful"

          I actually watched the "reboot" recently, and while the series had some amazing episodes (Blink, Family of Blood etc) there was some garbage too. But as the various actors came and went there seems to have been an attempt to make the whole thing more child friendly, culminating in the last series where they seem to have got confused about what a "plot" actually is, let alone excitement, and looks like they accidentally borrowed a script or 2 from eastenders.

  11. TomPhan

    Hand brake

    The LHC only makes that noise if you leave the hand brake on

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Hand brake

      ...and yet all the Tardis (Tardi??) seem to do it. Is River Song the only one who can drive a Tardis properly or is she the only who dislikes the noise?

  12. Stuart Halliday

    He was a good bloke.

  13. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    "as we prepare to welcome our 14th Doctor"

    I thought that rumor was more or less disproven or at least reliably refuted. Or has something else come up?

    1. Jedipadawan

      Re: "as we prepare to welcome our 14th Doctor"

      Latest I heard, in line with the 'Woke' model of the BBC of recent times, the next Doctor was set be an Asian by the name of Okabe. He (yes - HE!!!) starred in a Japanese Time Travel series based on a light novel series that got a lot of people's attention. Trailer here:

      1. jelabarre59

        Re: "as we prepare to welcome our 14th Doctor"

        Nah, if you want to see Dr Who as an anime, this was a brilliant example done in classic late-80s/early-90's style

        But if you're picking Asian replacements, why not an entirely computer-generated one like Hatsune Miku? (or Kaito, Meiko or Gumi?)

        1. Jedipadawan

          Re: "as we prepare to welcome our 14th Doctor"

          Seen it! :-)

          But, I swear, Okabe is the Doctor!

          "I am... mad scientist!"

          Stein;s gate is more 'Doctor Who' than the BBC's "Doctor Woke!"

          And I am a HUGE fan of Hatsune Miku!!!! But, the trouble with Miku being the Doctor is...

          1) We have the whole problem with the Doctor being female ... again and all the 'wokeness' that is screaming for. I mean, the BBC might just have got away with the Doctor being female, possibly, but it had to go all in with PC messaging throughout... as was predicted.

          2) Why Miku has no anime series? Because she is supposed to be undefined and Crypton media will not let her appear in any kind of anime for that reason. However, there is a consensus regarding Miku's personality which brings us to point 3...

          3) ...Miku is just too sweet to be the Doctor. Kaito is too jack-the-lad. Gumi is closest to Whittaker, but that's not working!

          Regardless, here's my video tribute to Miku!


          1. Mooseman Silver badge

            Re: "as we prepare to welcome our 14th Doctor"

            The problem wasn't a female doctor - do you live under a rock by the way? - it was very, very, very poor scriptwriting that clumsily nailed in various different ethnicities and abilities (no problem with that in itself) and then proceeded to basically do nothing with the hapless "characters". Never mind the least threatening plots since Noddy. It started off fairly well, I thought, and then nosedived to the point where the animatronic frog was a series highlight.

            1. jelabarre59

              Re: "as we prepare to welcome our 14th Doctor"

              The problem wasn't a female doctor - do you live under a rock by the way? - it was very, very, very poor scriptwriting that clumsily nailed in various different ethnicities and abilities (no problem with that in itself) and then proceeded to basically do nothing with the hapless "characters".

              That's exactly the problem. I had been enthusiastic about a female Doctor, thinking it could be an interesting change, opening up all sorts of clever story ideas. Instead we got Chris Chinballs and Jodie Wooden-ker. Uninspired acting and scriptwriting that made my mid-1980's DW fanfiction look award-winning by comparison.

  14. Kev99 Silver badge

    He had some good episodes. And there were other Doctors besides Tom Baker?

  15. rajivdx

    RIP Terrance Dicks

    I read the Target novelisations (mostly Terrance Dicks) for 15 years before I even saw my first Dr Who episode on TV. Thankfully I jumped straight to the new series because when I did go back and watch the old series I realised that the books and my imagination were much better. I still ploughed through all the Third and Fourth doctor episodes because despite all the poor sets and budget special effects the stories and acting by those doctors were top notch. I can only imagine how much better those stories would have been with the budget of todays episodes and more concise formats that did not force them to use so many fillers staring at blank corridors.

    1. Hazmoid

      Re: RIP Terrance Dicks

      Growing up in rural Australia, we got 2 TV stations, both of which shutdown at midnight. The ABC showed Dr Who after The Goodies and then had an hour of news. So obviously we watched Dr Who, but I did read all the novelisations I could find and many of those were by Terrance Dicks. I must say that the stories in the novels relied on imagination to set the mood and create the characters that we as Whovians love.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: RIP Terrance Dicks

      I quite like a lot of the slow pace in the old stories. Where you could spend 15 seconds panning along a corridor with a slightly comical slow oboe soundtrack before the trademark fedora peeped slowly out from round a corner. Compare that to current 100 mile an hour pace and full orchestra chase music all the time. The only time the pace slows nowadays is to fit in some meaningful heart to heart dialogue which used to take 20 seconds and end with "Ah well, life's like that. Would you like a jelly baby."

  16. Jedipadawan

    As I was growing up the 70's I developed my reading skills by devouring T. Dick's "Doctor Who" books! For that I must credit him. People complain I speak too fast... which I do... but it was because I learnt to read through the Target books 2-3 in a single sitting!

    However, as "Doctor Who" moved to "Doctor Woke" I moved away. Er, kinda literally to SE Asia.

    So, for those that loved the old series and want a supplement or even the alternative I created this just for you... Seriously. I never looked back.

    1. Jedipadawan

      Lords of Kobol, four thumbs down for a genuine offer??

      I mean, people might not like anime but there's no reason to down vote something that's not to taste.

      I recall why I left the old country...

  17. jelabarre59

    gold to what....

    If Terrance Dicks' time was the "Golden Age", what is the current series? Moldy Marshmallow?

    1. Jedipadawan

      Re: gold to what....

      Personally, I would say it's "Boom time!"

      ...for anime and other alternatives.

  18. earl grey

    Sad news

    RIP sir.

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