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How Many Copies of Genesis of the Daleks Do We Actually Need?

As some of us are apt to do, in this age of computers and smartphones, I was recently ripping my quite sizable audiobook CD collection onto the Apple Books app. Within all the Big Finish, BBC Audios, AudioGo etcetera, I picked up the 2017 release of Jon Culshaw reading Terrance Dicks’ Target novelisation of Genesis of the Daleks. It’s always been one of my favourite stories, but I then wondered if Genesis is the story that has had more releases, in varying formats than any other Doctor Who. Of course, most Classic Who stories have been released in several, but Genesis seems to have had more than its fair share.

Generally, a classic Doctor Who story would have followed a general set of releases: Target novelisation, VHS, DVD, audiobook, and possibly a soundtrack. Latterly, we can add Blu-ray to that list.

Now, just to be pedantic, I haven’t included Target reprints as all Target books were reprinted, but I have included differing versions of audios if there was something different or noteworthy about it. If I may…

1. Target Novelisation — 1976

Of course, the first release was Terrance Dicks’ Target novelisation. A striking cover by Chris Achilleos and a wonderful read: this was the first book that I ever read from cover to cover in one day (aged about 15). Not having yet seen the television version, my only previous experience was the BBC Records’ release. This opened the story more than what I was familiar with and I just couldn’t put it down.

2. BBC Records and Tapes — 1979

Alerted to this release by the cartoon-strip advert in Doctor Who Weekly, I saved up some of my paper-round money and went to Readings Records in Clapham Junction.

Wonderful; the nearest thing we had to an out-of-date repeat. A couple of years later, I even found the tape cassette version (I’m not counting the tape as an extra release as all BBC records were released as a dual format).

I never understood why BBC Records didn’t do any more Doctor Who releases of adapted stories at that time. Having said that, I can’t think of any other vinyl drama release at all making this quite unique; lots of comedy or theme tune compilations, but no drama (The Archers, maybe?).

Tom Baker and the BBC revisited this narration style in the early 1990s with the Missing Stories range of cassette tapes with the stories The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks.

3. BBC Radio Collection: Slipback — 1988

The 1979 audio edit of Genesis was re-released along with the Radio 4 transmitted Sixth Doctor story, Slipback. Unlike the old BBC Records and Tapes’ days, BBC Radio/Audio Collections were nearly always a double tape package. This leads to suspicion that Genesis was added as a filler as Slipback wasn’t long enough to fill two tapes.

Although Slipback was the radio programme and the most recently transmitted, at the time of this release, it was Genesis that hogged the cover. Daleks always sell, but the cover wasn’t particularly inspired.

4. BBC Video VHS — 1991

The Beeb waited eight years, since the first video release of Revenge of the Cybermen, to release Genesis on video. It was also double packaged with The Sontaran Experiment. Not too much of a problem, but the photographs on the spine of the video box did spoil the shelf display a tad.

5. BBC Radio Collection: Exploration Earth — 2001

Another BBC Radio Collection release, this time sharing with the 1976 school’s radio drama, Exploration Earth. Just like Slipback, this version of Genesis is the same as the original BBC Records’ version.

Collectors would have bought this because it was the first time that Exploration Earth was commercially available, but, to be fair, this is noteworthy as this was the first time that the audio edit of Genesis of the Daleks was released on CD.

6. BBC DVD — 2006

Genesis on DVD was released 15 years after the VHS version, minus the Sontarans, but this time packed with extras and much restoration/correction work carried out by Steve Roberts’ Restoration Team.

7. Doctor Who DVD Files No. 31 — 2010

A second DVD release for Genesis was during the run of the Doctor Who DVD Files part works magazine. I don’t know anyone who collected these, but I would say it was quite ambitious to release a DVD set of Doctor Who seeing as most fans would have been collecting the BBC DVDs anyway. I have included this in the list as it wasn’t strictly a BBC title.

8. Daily Telegraph/BBC Audio — 2010

The BBC Radio Collection release from 2001 was re-packaged and released on a single CD, as a giveaway from the Daily Telegraph, during a series of Doctor Who giveaways which included Slipback, Exploration Earth, and Mission to the Unknown. I did wrestle with the notion that this didn’t count as it doesn’t offer anything new, but it was the first time that Genesis was available on a single CD and not as a support for another story.

9. AudioGo — 2011

Only a year after the Daily Telegraph release, AudioGo re-released the audio version, but this time digitally remastered. At the same time, other ’70s BBC albums were re-released; Doctor Who Sound Effects included.

What was particularly nice about this version was that it included the original ’70s artwork and the CD itself was printed to look like a vinyl record. For anyone that had (or in my case still has) the original vinyl, this was a must.

This was also available as a digital download for the first time.

10. Record Store Day — 2016

Released as part of Record Store Day 2016 – a celebration of independent record shops – this was a vinyl re-release of the 1979 package right down to the original sleeve and record label. On the face of it, this was a simple re-release of the original from 1979, but this was not a BBC issue, this being from Demon Records. Oh, and the vinyl was blue.

11. BBC Audio/Audible — 2017

The release that prompted this article: the audiobook. Here we have an unabridged reading, by Jon Culshaw, of the 1976 novelisation by Terrance Dicks and using the same Chris Achilleos cover artwork as the original novel. Book to audiobook in 41 years!

12. Season 12 Blu-ray Box Set — 2018

Packaged within the first Blu-ray season box set was an up-scaled version to High Definition. This also contained the omnibus version which has never been released before. All we need at some point is the Doctor Who and the Monsters edit from 1982 to complete the set.

13. Tom Baker Vinyl Boxset — 2023

And to bring us bang up to date, Demon records have released Genesis as part of a limited-edition vinyl boxset. The inclusion of the Tom Baker-narrated State of Decay audiobook is a nice touch as this hasn’t seen any kind of release since around 1985.

That’s 13 releases of versions of Genesis of the Daleks. Have I missed any? But it’s highly unlikely that any other version of a Doctor Who story is going to receive as many individual releases as this. Or does anyone beg to differ? Was there anything I’ve included that shouldn’t be in the list? Answers in the comments section…

The only other story that could get near is The Power of the Daleks. I think it comes close, due to two versions of the soundtrack (narrations by Tom Baker and Frazer Hines), a black and white DVD and colour Blu-ray of the original animation, and a second animated version, but I believe that Genesis of the Daleks still wins the title. However, if the original episodes of Power ever turn up, that could contend.

But I ask the original question: how many copies of Genesis of the Daleks do we actually need…?

Colin Burden

How Many Copies of Genesis of the Daleks Do We Actually Need?

by Colin Burden time to read: 5 min
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