Terrance Dicks

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Terrance Dicks
Born(1935-05-10) 10 May 1935 (age 78)
East Ham, Essex, England, United Kingdom
ResidenceHampstead, London
Alma materDowning College, Cambridge
OccupationTelevision writer
Children's writer
Known forDoctor Who TV scripts, novelisations and novels
Spouse(s)Married
Children3 sons
 
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Terrance Dicks
Born(1935-05-10) 10 May 1935 (age 78)
East Ham, Essex, England, United Kingdom
ResidenceHampstead, London
Alma materDowning College, Cambridge
OccupationTelevision writer
Children's writer
Known forDoctor Who TV scripts, novelisations and novels
Spouse(s)Married
Children3 sons

Terrance Dicks (born 10 May 1935) is an English writer and former script editor, best known for his work in television and as the author of many popular children's books during the 1970s and 1980s. His most famous work is as writer and (for five years) script editor, on British science-fiction series Doctor Who.

Early career[edit]

Born in East Ham, Essex (now part of Greater London), Dicks studied English at Downing College, Cambridge, and later performed two years of National Service in the British Army. Following his discharge from the armed forces, he worked for five years as an advertising copywriter, and started to write radio play scripts for the BBC in his spare time.

His break-through into television came when friend Malcolm Hulke asked for his help with the scripting of an episode of the ABC action-adventure series The Avengers, for which Dicks was awarded a co-writer's credit.

Doctor Who[edit]

In 1968, Dicks was hired as assistant script editor on the popular BBC science-fiction TV series Doctor Who.[1] He was appointed head script editor the following year, and earned his first writing credit for the programme when he and Hulke co-wrote the 10-part serial The War Games, which concluded the series' sixth season and the Second Doctor's (Patrick Troughton) tenure. Dicks had, however, been the uncredited co-writer of the earlier serial The Seeds of Death, having extensively re-written Brian Hayles' original scripts.

Dicks went on to form a highly productive working relationship with incoming Doctor Who producer Barry Letts, serving as script editor on all of Letts' five seasons as head of the programme from 1970 to 1974. In 1972, Dicks embarked on a parallel career as an author with the publication of his first book, The Making of Doctor Who (a history of the production of the TV series), which was co-written by Hulke.

After stepping down as script editor, Dicks continued his association with Doctor Who, writing four scripts for his successor, Robert Holmes: these were Robot (1975, Tom Baker's first outing as the Fourth Doctor), The Brain of Morbius (1976, for which Dicks was credited under the pseudonym "Robin Bland" after his displeasure at Holmes' re-writes prompted him to request that it be shown "under some bland pseudonym"), Horror of Fang Rock (1977) and State of Decay (1980).

State of Decay was in fact a re-written version of a story originally titled The Vampire Mutation, which had been due for production during season 15 until the BBC decided that the vampiric theme would clash with the plot of its new adaptation of Bram Stoker's Count Dracula, which was due for transmission at roughly the same time, and replaced it with Horror of Fang Rock. Dicks penned his final Doctor Who script in 1983, when he wrote the programme's 20th anniversary special episode, The Five Doctors.

Dicks' other work for Doctor Who includes two stage plays, Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday (1974) and Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure (1989), and an audio drama for Big Finish Productions titled Comeback (2002), which was the first to feature former Doctor's companion Sarah Jane Smith in a significant capacity.

Books[edit]

Dicks contributed heavily to Target Books' series of novelisations of the Doctor Who TV serials, writing more than 60 of the titles published by the company. As Dicks explains in an interview in the documentary Built for War (included on the 2006 DVD release of The Sontaran Experiment), he served as the unofficial editor of the Target Books range. In this role, he would attempt to enlist the author of the original teleplay to write the novelisation whenever possible, but if they refused or had other commitments, Dicks would usually undertake the work himself (although he also recruited other writers, including former Doctor Who actor Ian Marter and former series producer Philip Hinchcliffe).

On one occasion, he enlisted Robert Holmes to novelise his script for The Time Warrior, but when Holmes gave up after writing only one chapter, it was left to Dicks to complete the work. Dicks would have better success in recruiting the original writers for the later Doctor Who serials, and was required to adapt only one Sixth Doctor story himself (The Mysterious Planet; he again replaced Holmes, who had died in 1986). Dicks' name appears on the cover of no Seventh Doctor novelisations. His plans to publish a novelisation of his stage play Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure have yet to be realised.

During the 1990s, Dicks contributed to Virgin Publishing's line of full-length, officially-licensed, original Doctor Who novels, New Adventures, which continued the series' storyline following the TV cancellation in 1989. Dicks wrote three Doctor Who novels for Virgin, and continued to write occasionally for the franchise after BBC Books assumed the licence in 1997. He wrote the first of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, titled The Eight Doctors, which was, for a time, the best-selling original Doctor Who novel. World Game, featuring the Second Doctor, is set during the so-called "Season 6B". His most recent contributions to the range are the Quick Reads books Made of Steel and Revenge of the Judoon, both featuring the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones.

Other television work[edit]

Dicks also wrote for the ATV soap opera Crossroads. He co-created and wrote for the short-lived BBC science-fiction TV series Moonbase 3 (1973), and wrote for the ATV science-fiction series Space: 1999 (1976). During the early 1980s, Dicks served once more as script editor to producer Barry Letts on the BBC's Sunday Classics strand of period dramas and literary adaptations.

When Letts left the BBC in 1985, Dicks succeeded him as the producer of Sunday Classics, overseeing productions such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Vanity Fair, before departing himself in 1988.

Children's fiction and non-fiction[edit]

It was through his work on Doctor Who books that Dicks became a writer of children's fiction, penning many successful titles during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1976, he wrote a trilogy for Target Books, The Mounties, concerning a Royal Canadian Mounted Police recruit. They were followed from 1979 to 1983 another trilogy, Star Quest, which was later re-printed by Big Finish Productions.

Beginning in 1978, Dicks penned The Baker Street Irregulars; the series eventually ran to 10 books, the last being published in 1987. In 1981, he commenced work on a series of six children's horror novels with Cry Vampire. In 1987, Dicks started a new series for very young children titled T. R. Bear, resulting in a further seven books. There followed the Sally Ann series, about a ragdoll, Magnificent Max, about a cat, and The Adventures of Goliath (Dicks' longest series, at 18 books), about a golden retriever. Another five books concerning a St. Bernard dog make up the Harvey series.

Jonathan's Ghost and three sequels were published in 1988, and the three-part MacMagic series followed in 1990. The Littlest Dinosaur was published in 1993 and The Littlest on Guard in 1994. Other works that Dicks published in 1994 include Woof! The Never Ending Tale, the Cold Blood series and the Chronicles of a Computer Game Addict series (both in four parts). Between 1998 and 2000, Dicks penned Changing Universe trilogy. Since 2000, Dicks has been engaged in producing the series The Unexplained, with 12 books published so far.

As well as his numerous fictional works, Dicks has also written several non-fiction books for children, including Europe United, A Riot of Writers, Uproar In The House, A Right Royal History and The Good, the Bad and the Ghastly.

Personal life[edit]

Dicks resides in Hampstead, London. He is married and has three sons.

Bibliography[edit]

Doctor Who[edit]

Novelisations[edit]

Most of Dicks' Doctor Who novelisations incorporated the prefix "Doctor Who and..." before the title, as did most of the series' novelisations prior to 1981. Several of his novels were subsequently re-printed in omnibus editions, such as The Adventures of Doctor Who and The Dalek Omnibus. In the late 1980s, Star Books issued "2-in-1" collections of selected Target Books novelisations, which included several of Dicks' works.

Original novels[edit]

Non-fiction[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leach, Jim (1 April 2009). Doctor Who: TV Milestones Series (Illustrated ed.). Detroit, Michigan, United States: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814333082. OCLC 768120206. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Amazon.co.uk: Invasion of the Bane (Sarah Jane Adventures): Books: Terrance Dicks

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Derrick Sherwin
Doctor Who Script Editor
1968–74
Succeeded by
Robert Holmes