Well, this is a find. A chronicle of the Doctor’s lesser known adventures, beautifully written up for a lavish new volume by one David Whitaker. You may not have heard of him: David was a great friend of the Doctor and they collaborated on a number of projects. They worked on a novel based on our travels on Skaro, which David was kind enough to write in the first person – and that first person was yours truly! And now, there’s this, hot off the presses. Marvellous! Of course, the Doctor did not want his involvement to be widely known. He was happy to see his adventures in print, but he never wanted the people of our world to realise that he really existed, or that David was writing fact, not fiction. And the book’s really something. Some wonderful pen and ink illustrations of the old boy on his travels –
Kindly give that to me, Chesterton.
Well, I was just explaining the origins of this book to our readers, so if you don’t mind –
Yes yes yes, dear boy: never mind that. That volume happens to be someone’s property, and that someone doesn’t happen to be you. Just hand it over, there’s a good fellow.
Oh, very well.
Thank you. Ah: yes! Yes yes yes yes. Ho ho! Do you know, I recall these events with total clarity. The peril of Mechanistria! My visit to the lair of Zarbi Supremo! I disguised myself with great brilliance as one of the myrmidons of that mighty insect, to defeat his malevolent machinations. And that unfortunate episode with the giant space-farers who were visiting that world of Vortis – perhaps something best forgotten.
Why best forgotten, Doctor?
Well, you see, dear boy, they could not quite believe I was as much a man as they were. They were quite eight feet tall, whereas, you know, I am rather shorter in stature.
Really? Oh, hang on, I’ve found the page. This chap wasn’t very polite to you, was he, Doctor? He says here, “Who in the name of the Furies are you, my friend? You are a man, that I can see, but what a man? A puny, old specimen of mankind…”
Yes, thank you, Chesterton, that’s quite enough.
And then it says he stripped your clothes off to prove to his fellows that you were… hang on, he says, “a man and no insect.”
Yes, thank you, Chesterton, that will do! Dear me: a most undignified and unedifying episode. Best forgotten I think. Oh, do stop grinning, there’s a good fellow.
Sorry. Oh look: there’s the Voord again. And some other chaps.
Ah yes, indeed. I recall with the utmost clarity my encounter with the Fishmen of Kandalinga!
The Fishmen of Kandalinga, dear boy. Have you become suddenly afflicted by partial deafness?
You’re making it up.
And I tell you, Chesterton, I fabricate nothing! My encounter with the Fishmen of Kandalinga was a most perilous episode and is moreover a matter of historical record. I recall that the unfortunate piscine gentlemen were constantly accompanied by a most pungent odour of haddock. Dear me! If I close my eyes, I can smell it to this day.
And did you bump into the Daleks?
Ah no, no. Not on this occasion. I recall there was some problem with the rights.
I beg your pardon?
The rights, Chesterton, the rights! David had problems with the rights, he informed me. Not that I quite comprehended his meaning. I do not believe Daleks should have any rights whatsoever, of course. Dear me, your hearing is far from acute these days. I really think you should make an urgent appointment with an otorhinolaryngologist.
You just made that up, too.
My dear boy, these constant attacks on my probity! Consult a dictionary, my dear fellow. You will find both the word and the definition in there, set out with the utmost clarity. An otorhinolaryngologist is a doctor who specialises in disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. Dear dear dear. I sometimes worry that you lack sufficient intellect to teach those poor young men and women in that ridiculous school of yours.
Well, you said you were a doctor of practically everything. Why don’t you take a look?
Simply because I have better things to do with my time, dear boy, than to contemplate the interior of your auricular canal. And I have no doubt it would present a most repellent prospect. Now stop wasting my time. Dial up some coffee and cake on the food machine and leave me to my reading. I wish to re-acquaint myself with David’s most excellent narrative of my travels.
Oh, all right. Have it your own way. I’ll go and iron my new cardigan. I’ll see you later.
Very well. And I trust that by then your temper will have improved! You really should cultivate a serene and unruffled demeanour, dear boy. I always do. Model yourself upon me at all times, that’s my advice.
[Chesterton bangs out of the control room. Dr Who settles himself in his Louis Quinze chair and opens his volume. He chuckles quietly to himself.]
Sheer poetry, you see. Sheer poetry.
[Track back to wide shot of Dr Who, in the interior of Tardis, intent on his reading. He is, for once, perfectly happy.]
The first – and best – Doctor Who Annual was published in 1965, presumably for the Christmas market. It cost 9 shillings and sixpence, i.e. 47½p; the equivalent of about £9.50 in today’s money. No year is given on the cover, but it would be more logical to say it’s actually the 1966 Annual: annuals are usually dated to the year after they’re published, you see.
It had a huge print run and is fairly easy to find on eBay. A good condition one should be about £30; bashed up copies go for less. The illustrations are rather wonderful and the stories are actually worth reading. They’re usually attributed to David Whitaker, though this is uncertain; there’s no credit in the book itself. Even so, the prose style certainly fits the attribution.
So, lots of children enjoyed a very good Christmas present back in 1965. They’d be in their 60s now…
Oh, sorry. Someone wants to say something.
Yes, yes, dear me, my dear boy, I nearly forgot! I meant to say it earlier. Well, no time like the present. Now what was it I was about to say, hmm? Ah, yes. Yes yes yes yes.
A HAPPY CHRISTMAS…
TO ALL OF YOU AT HOME.