This week I was shocked and saddened to hear that Terrance Dicks had died at the age of 84 . Terrance was a beyond prolific writer, best known for his work on Doctor Who. He contributed scripts between 1969 and 1983, was script-editor through the Jon Pertwee era, adapted over sixty stories into books, and wrote original novels.
Before the invention of video, the Target books were the only record of Doctor Who’s past adventures. Terrance skilfully compressed ninety minutes of action, sometimes more, into less than 150 pages. These engaging reads were often superior to the original version.
For me the highlights of his many achievements were The War Games, the second video I ever brought, followed by The Five Doctors which superbly commemorated the twentieth anniversary and then Exodus, a book which showed that Doctor Who could continue without television. I should also mention one of the finest opening lines to any book. His novelisation of the Dalek Invasion of Earth begins, “Through the ruin of a city stalked the ruin of a man.”
A generation discovered Doctor Who’s history through Terrance Dicks. Children learnt to read because of Terrance Dicks and many, including myself, were inspired to write by Terrance Dicks.
On the day of his death I received the latest Doctor Who Magazine, which contains the opinions of modern writers on their predecessors. They rated Terrance in the same high class as his friend and colleague, Robert Holmes. That accolade from fellow professionals is perhaps the finest tribute.
RIP Terrance Dicks. A cosmos without you is scarcely worth thinking about.
Paul Williams is a writer best known for his study of the Jack the Ripper Suspects. He has contributed Doctor Who short stories to anthologies and fanzines and is currently watching the entire show in chronological order, one episode per week.