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Published on April 15th, 2013 | by Andrew Reynolds

The Importance of Doctor Who Licensing

While some may look down their noses at tie-in novels or view them as lesser works when compared to fully-fledged literary works; the genre serves a valid purpose – they get children reading.

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Doctor Who author Cavan Scott – who has co-written Who-ology: The Official Doctor Who Miscellany with Mark Wright (due for release 2nd May) – argues that as a gateway to a whole world of literature, nothing beats the Tie-in Novel:

A while ago I heard about a school that asked their pupils to dress up as their favourite book character for World Book Day. One boy came dressed as Optimus Prime, which drew comments in the playground. It was supposed to be book characters, not toys or cartoons. The lad himself was confused. Optimus Prime was in his favourite book, the Transformers Annual. He read it every day.

Good for Optimus Prime, I say.

If kids start reading because they love Transformers or Star Wars or Doctor Who or Skylanders or The Beano then brilliant. They’re reading.

Through his own childhood of reading and re-reading some of the classic tie-in Doctor Who novels – most of which were written by the legendary, peerless Terrance Dicks – Scott has charged licensors to come up better and better products for active imaginations:

As licensors, licensees, publishers and writers we have to make sure that our tie-in books are the best they can be. If we get them right, they might just spark a love for reading that will last a lifetime.

However, it’s not just with new products where the benefits lie. Those licenced novels are key to opening open new and exciting pathways to other fiction staples:

Thanks to Doctor Who and the State of Decay (by Terrance Dicks, naturally) I picked up Dracula. I discovered Sherlock Holmes short stories in the hunt for something a bit like Doctor Who and The Talons of Weng Chiang (Dicks again). Because of Doctor Who novels I went on to read Douglas Adams, Tolkien, Dicks (Philip K. not Terrance this time) and Robert Louis Stephenson. Those slim, TV novelisations fanned the flame of a book addiction that lasts to this very day.

That’s why I think children’s tie-in books are vitally important and I get upset when people are sniffy about them.

Why? Because sometimes sometimes a tie-in book is the only thing some kids will read.

Who-ology: The Official Doctor Who Miscellany written by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright is pre-order from Amazon now for release on the 2nd May for £8.96 (reduced from the RRP of £12.99).


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

2 Responses to The Importance of Doctor Who Licensing

  1. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    Well said. My daughter loves books and reading. She loves the show and i hope she is just getting to the age now that she will get into Doctor Who literature. Any advice about a 6-year-old’s first Doctor Who related read?

  2. avatar Al says:

    I read extensively. I’ve read Shakespeare and I’ve read William Burroughs. I’ve tried pulp SF and I’ve read Jane Austen. And I get annoyed when people turn their noses up at “spin-off fiction” as if somehow it’s not legitimate. I’ve heard people dismiss Doctor Who novels as fanfic – officially licensed novels, not the actual fan-written stuff. I’m sorry, when you have the likes of Dan Abnett and Michael Moorcock and Brian Aldiss writing Doctor Who fiction (Aldiss wrote a short story for one of the Brilliant Books), and you have Neil Gaiman stating that all that stood between him and a novelisation of The Doctor’s Wife was a book contract – this is not fanfic. A good Doctor Who novel (or novellas) is every bit as legitimate a piece of literature as anything else you can imagine. And yeah, if it gets people reading- not just kids but adults, too – then its value increases even more.

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