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BBC Worldwide

Release Code
June 1997
Doctor Who: The Novel of the Film
Paul McGann
2 cass
ZBBC 1998

In 1997 BBC Worldwide re-launched their Doctor Who range with new merchandise in every format. Two new branches of novels, new-look videos, a CD-Rom adventure and several talking books on cassette. Two of these had been recorded in 1995 by Watershed Productions, not released due to the merchandise drought before and after the Fox TV Movie. The other was the abridged novelisation of the recent film - the only talking book produced by BBC Worldwide themselves. Following the pattern set by Watershed in 1995, the tapes featured the Peter Howell radio arrangement of the Doctor Who theme with Brian Hodgson's TARDIS Take-Off effect, and the script was read by the appropriate Doctor, Paul McGann. The success of this release prompted further recordings, but once again the BBC left the production to an outside company, The Fiction Factory.

Originally publicised as Doctor Who: He's Back, and it's About Time! (the tag-line used on the script-book, novelisation and video release of the film in 1996), the double-cassette received favourable reviews and sat contentedly in talking book charts for several months. In July 2004 it was compiled onto an mp3 CD-Rom entitled Tales from the TARDIS: Volume II (part of the on-going BBC Radio Collection).

The Novel of the Film

The Novel Of The Film
Read by Paul McGann
Written and abridged by Gary Russell
Produced for BBC Worldwide by Anne Edyvean

Late December, 1999. An anachronistic British Police Box materialises in San Francisco's Chinatown amid a hail of bullets which find an unintentional target - a strange man who walks out of the Police Box. Despite the best efforts of Dr Grace Holloway, the unknown traveller dies and his body vanishes. And soon another stranger appears, claiming to be the same man inside a different body; a mysterious wanderer in time and space known only as the Doctor. But the Doctor is not the only time-traveller in San Francisco. His oldest adversary, the Master, is there as well, desperately trying to steal the Doctor's newly-regenerated body. Before long, the Doctor is faced with a choice: to save his own life, or the billions of people who have no future unless the Master is stopped. If only the Doctor could remember how...

Abridging the novelisation himself (over a single weekend), Russell cut approximately 20,000 words, mostly in large chunks of sub-plot, description and history, with many characters unique to the book - including Joey Sneller (Bruce's partner) and a variety of guests at the institute - being removed altogether. He also took the opportunity to reword occasional scenes, and revise the speech of certain characters (particularly the Master) in light of their TV performances. Among the most ruthless of cuts was the opening chapter, 'Out With The Old', which explained the Master's fate while the seventh Doctor lounged in the TARDIS. Minor differences included the removal of all references to the Daleks, the Cloister Bell, Kasterborous, Rassilon and Artron energy (suggesting a target audience unfamiliar with the programme's history), and the renaming of Chang Lee to simply 'Lee'. The only structural difference occurs as Lee enters the TARDIS, where two scenes are edited together as one so as not to spoil the momentum of the Doctor and Grace's conversation. Finally, certain Americanisms - deliberately included by the author - were changed back to their Anglican counterparts ('pants' to trousers, 'vest' to waistcoat) by editor Anne Edyvean, presumably through mis-understanding of Russell's intentions.

Both sides of each cassette opened and closed with the 1980s Doctor Who theme (the stereo radio edit later used on the BBC DVDs), with the TARDIS take-off sound also heard at the start of Side One and end of Side Four.