Whatever Happened to the 1991/92 Virgin New Adventures Writers?

The Virgin New Adventures launched in 1991 with a raft of familiar and not-so-familiar writers serving up the bi-monthly feats of the Seventh Doctor and Ace across 60 books – plus a final one with the Eighth Doctor.

But what have those writers done since…? We’re focusing on the early years right now: 1991 and 1992. And there are some big names in the mix.

John Peel

Timewyrm Genesys John Peel

With Timewyrm: Genesys, the range’s debut title in June 1991, John Peel became the first person to author an official book featuring the Doctor that’s not an adaptation of another story. This was the only book he wrote for the series, though he did also do Evolution (1994) for its sister range, the Virgin Missing Adventures.

Peel, who used to be friends with Terry Nation, has since written two books for BBC Books’ Past Doctor Adventures – War of the Daleks (1997), and Legacy of the Daleks (1998) – having adapted several Dalek stories for Target including The Chase, The Power of the Daleks, and The Evil of the Daleks.

He now lives in Long Island, New York, and remains a prolific novelist, including numerous Star Trek books throughout the 1990s, and major ranges like the Carmen Sandiego, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and Diadem series.

In October 2007, he wrote I Am The Doctor – The Unauthorised Diaries of a Time Lord (made up of diary entries of the Doctor’s travels), with illustrations by Pete Wallbank. His next book for the Doctor Who universe is The Grandfather Infestation for the excellent Lethbridge-Stewart range.

Terrance Dicks

Blood Harvest Terrance Dicks

Terrance Dicks, of course, has a long history with Doctor Who: he acted as script editor during the Third Doctor era and wrote not only a TARDIS-load of Target novels but also several classic serials like Horror of Fang Rock, State of Decay, and The Five Doctors.

He wrote the second book in the Virgin New Adventures range, Timewyrm: Exodus; the 28th, Blood Harvest; and Shakedown, an extensive adaptation of the unofficial spin-off film of the same name­ – which has since been republished as part of 2014’s The Monster Collection.

As well as appearing at fan conventions and signings across the country, Dicks has written many books, including seven for the Past Doctor Adventures and Eighth Doctor Adventures, and two for Quick Reads: 2007’s Made of Steel, and Revenge of the Judoon the following year.

Nigel Robinson

Timewyrm Apocalypse Nigel Robinson

Having edited the Target novelisations in the late 1980s, Nigel Robinson wrote Timewyrm: Apocalypse and Birthright for the Virgin New Adventures.

Anybody wandering around a bookshop in the 1990s would’ve seen a good selection of Robinson’s novels, like the sci-fi trilogy, First Contact, Second Nature, and Third Degree; children’s horror such as Remember Me…, Bad Moon Rising, and Demon Brood; and even novelisations of Baywatch – no, really – and Free Willy.

Robinson has also written for Big Finish – two Companion Chronicles tales, The Stealers from Saiph and The Emperor of Eternity, and most recently, Short Trips: The Shadows of Serenity – as well as the 50th anniversary audio, Hunters of Earth for the now-defunct AudioGo.

Paul Cornell

Love and War Paul Cornell

Arguably, Timewyrm: Revelation put Paul Cornell’s name on the Doctor Who landscape, while further books for the range followed: there were Love and War (introducing Bernice Summerfield as the Doctor’s companion), No Future, Human Nature, and Happy Endings.

In 2005, he wrote Father’s Day for Series 1 of so-called NuWho, then adapted his novel for 2007’s Human Nature/ The Family of Blood. He has also written books, audio tales, and comics (including Wolverine, Captain Britain and MI:13, and Wisdom for Marvel, and last year’s The Four Doctors for Titan Comics).

He’s also written an upcoming episode of Elementary, the CBS show starring Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Lui as Dr Watson (a series well worth a watch!).

Marc Platt

Lungbarrow

Best-known for writing Ghost Light, Marc Platt, who lives in London, wrote two books for the Virgin New Adventures line, Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible and the controversial Lungbarrow.

As a self-confessed obsessive of the series, Marc has frequently contributed to Big Finish’s various Doctor Who ranges, including An Earthly Child, introducing the Doctor’s great-grandson; The Three Companions, featuring Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier, Anneke Wills as Polly Wright, and John Pickard as Thomas Brewster; and two stories for the Doom Coalition boxsets, The Galileo Trap and The Gift.

His 2002 audio, Spare Parts at least partly inspired the Series 2 two-parter, Rise of the Cybermen/ The Age of Steel.

Andrew Cartmel

Warchild Andrew Cartmel

Andrew Cartmel proved to be a breath of fresh air as Script Editor during the Seventh Doctor era, and he further wrote Cat’s Cradle: Warhead, Warlock, and Warchild for the New Adventures.

Since then, he’s continued to dip his feet into the Doctor Who universe, having written Atom Bomb Blues for the Past Doctor Adventures, Winter for the Adept for Big Finish (plus tales for Short Trips and The Lost Stories), and comics for both Doctor Who Magazine and Doctor Who Adventures.

His recollections of working behind the scenes on the show was released in 2005 as Script Doctor: The Inside Story of Doctor Who 1986- 89, then reprinted a couple of years ago too.

His latest novel, The Vinyl Detective, is published later this month by Titan Books.

Mark Gatiss

St Anthony's Fire Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss’ first story for the New Adventures, Nightshade has just been adapted by Big Finish, while his other, St Anthony’s Fire remains largely forgotten, unfortunately.

Gatiss’ career, however, has proved rather more successful: he was drafted in to write The Unquiet Dead in 2002, and has since written numerous other episodes – including the reintroduction of the Ice Warriors in Cold War – and the 50th anniversary celebratory biopic, An Adventure in Space and Time. He’s also played Richard Lazarus, Danny Boy (twice), and Gantok in The Lazarus Experiment, Victory of the Daleks, A Good Man Goes To War, and The Wedding of River Song respectively.

Away from Doctor Who, Gatiss has appeared in TV, radio, and theatre (recently, Game of Thrones, Dad’s Army, and Wolf Hall), and is the co-creator of Sherlock. With Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, and Jeremy Dyson, he is also part of The League of Gentlemen.

Ben Aaronovitch

So Vile A Sin Ben Aaronovitch Kate Orman

Having written Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield for the show, Ben Aaronovitch wrote Transit, The Also People, and So Vile A Sin for the New Adventures range.

But Aaronovitch is now best-known for his popular book series, Rivers of London, concerning the exploits of Peter Grant of the Metropolitan Police. The first novel has been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, Japanese, and Czech, and has spawned not only many sequels (the next, The Hanging Tree, to be published this August), but also comic tie-ins, Body Work, and Night Witch, co-written by Andrew Cartmel.

The eagle-eyed among you might notice we’ve not covered everyone from the 1991-92 batch of writers for the Virgin New Adventures. There’s one omission: Andrew Hunt, author of Cat’s Cradle: Witch Mark. As far as we can tell, that was the only book he wrote, certainly for Doctor Who. Does anyone know what happened to him…?