DOCTOR WHO The Wilderness Years: The New Adventures

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All week long we're revisiting "The Wilderness Years" of 1989-2005, and looking at the state of Doctor Who whilst it was off our TV screens. Today Christopher Morley opens up The New Adventures...


As we all know, the Cloister Bell had tolled for the final time with regard to the 'classic' series on December 6, 1989 with the broadcast of the final episode of Survival. But the Seventh Doctor & Ace lived on in printed form through the Virgin New Adventures novel range.......


Spanning a whopping 60 books from Timewyrm- Genesys through to Ben Aaronovitch & Kate Orman's So Vile A Sin ( with a 61st, The Dying Days by Lance Parkin, introducing the Eighth Doctor for one appearance before the BBC launched the Eighth Doctor Adventures range), the New Adventures allowed a plethora of writers- including several who would go on to write for the revived television series- to give new life to the little chap in the pullover.


Among those who would go on to pen stories for the New-Who Doctors were Paul Cornell, who put pen to paper on Father's Day for the Ninth Doctor after contributing Timewyrm- Revelation, Love And War. No Future, Human Nature (reprinted as part of the History Collection & which its author adapted for the Tenth Doctor on screen), and Happy Endings.


Joining him were Mark Gatiss. Since 2005 he's been very actively involved in the series, and has written The Unquiet Dead, Victory Of The Daleks, Night Terrors, Cold War, The Crimson Horror & Robot Of Sherwood for the Ninth, Eleventh & Twelfth Doctors. In the so called 'Wilderness Years' he gave the Seventh Nightshade & St Anthony's Fire - which slotted in nicely alongside Gareth Roberts' (pre- The Shakespeare Code, The Lodger, Closing Time & The Caretaker.) contributions The Highest Science, Tragedy Day & Zamper!


Perhaps the first step for Russell T Davies on the road to rebooting Doctor Who on the small screen was writing Damaged Goods- number 55 in the New Adventures series. Davies introduced a Tyler family. Now, where have we subsequently seen that?


But before Jackie and Rose there was Gabriel, Jacob, John, Winnie & Bev. The story, published nearly a decade before the Ninth Doctor graced our living rooms, sees the Seventh arriving in Margaret Thatcher's England, on a council estate known as the Quadrant. Take a look at the synopsis...
"Wherever this cocaine has travelled, it hasn't gone alone. Death has been its attendant. Death in a remarkably violent and inelegant form.

The Doctor, Chris and Roz arrive at the Quadrant, a troubled council block in Thatcher's Britain. There's a new drug on the streets, a drug that's killing to a plan. Somehow, the very ordinary people of the Quadrant are involved. And so, amidst the growing chaos, a bizarre trio moves into number 43.

The year is 1987: a dead drug dealer has risen from the grave, and an ancient weapon is concealed beneath human tragedy. But the Doctor soon discovers that the things people do for their children can be every bit as deadly as any alien menace - as he uncovers the link between a special child, an obsessive woman, and a desperate bargain made one dark Christmas Eve."
Disdain for Mrs T within the corridors of power was nothing new during Andrew Cartmel's time as script editor during the Sylvester McCoy years:
"My exact words were: I'd like to overthrow the government. I was a young firebrand and I wanted to answer honestly. I was very angry about the social injustice in Britain under Thatcher and I'm delighted that came into the show."
The subject even provoked debate on Newsnight!



Whilst Virgin were busy publishing The New Adventures novels, there were plans for some very different new adventures going on. And these ones would feature a newly regenerated Eighth Doctor!

As you likely know, the 1996 TV Movie was intended as a pilot for an American- led reboot of Doctor Who. That proposed series began pre-production in 1994 when American television writer John Leekley met TV Movie producer Philip Segal. Leekley began work on the 'New Series Document' with guidelines on how the show should progress. This became known as the "Leekley Bible". A Brief History Of Time Travel noted of the process:
Together with designer Richard Lewis, Segal and Leekley prepared an expensive and extensive series bible – titled The Chronicles Of Doctor Who?, to introduce Doctor Who in general, and the proposed new series in particular. Segal had envisioned this version of Doctor Who as being largely divorced from the original BBC series -- although the basic concepts of Doctor Who were adhered to, the programme's mythos would be completely rewritten. The bible was written from the perspective of Cardinal Barusa (a misspelling of Borusa, a character who had first appeared in Season Fourteen's The Deadly Assassin). It introduces the Doctor and the Master, who are half-brothers and both sons of the lost Time Lord explorer Ulysses, Borusa's son.
When the evil Master becomes President of the Time Lords upon Borusa's death, the Doctor flees Gallifrey in a rickety old TARDIS to find Ulysses. Borusa's spirit becomes enmeshed in the TARDIS, enabling Borusa to continue to advise his grandson. The Doctor takes the TARDIS to "the Blue Planet" (Earth), to search for Ulysses -- this being the native world of the Doctor's mother.
The Leekley Bible went on to detail the Doctor's encounter with the Daleks, still creations of Davros, but now controlled by the Master. Various other possible adventures were detailed, most of them drawing, to a greater or lesser extent, on stories from the original series: The Smugglers, The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, Earthshock, The Horror Of Fang Rock, The Celestial Toymaker, The Gunfighters (to be remade as Don't Shoot, I'm The Doctor!), Tomb Of The Cybermen (now called Cybs instead of Cybermen), The Abominable Snowmen, and The Ark In Space.


Of course, none of this came to pass, and the Eighth Doctor's time on screen was limited to just the single 90 minute TV movie. But he lived on in print, and that is where we will pick up the story tomorrow....
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