Interviews Target Who

Published on May 29th, 2013 | by Philip Bates

David Dovey Explains Target Who

inteview-logoIn February, a group of fans bought a massive collection of TARGET novels on eBay. It’d be perfect to open up a shop and make loads of money in the Doctor’s anniversary year.

But that’s not what they were bought for – in fact, the cause is much greater than mere financial gain.

Target Who is a group of 30 Doctor Who fans of the highest order, with an aim of sending TARGET novels (and other Doctor Who books, if need be) to schools nationwide. Ideally, they’d like to see six to ten books in every school library, both Junior and Secondary.

And it’s not really about Doctor Who; it’s about inspiring children to read. As David Dovey told me: “For us, it is our way of celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary.  As the classic and new series come together this year, we as the childhood fans of yesteryear want to share with the current and next generation of fans the books that inspired and encouraged us to read.

“We hope they will sit in school libraries for many years to come, constantly being discovered and enjoyed by children.”
Target Who 2I think you’ll agree it’s an amazing, truly admirable feat. David tells me that it really was a group effort.

“A friend of mine spotted the eBay listing in February for over 11,000 TARGET books, in slabs of 100 and still sealed in original printers packaging.  They were collection only from Essex.  As I’ve helped out in a few local Junior Schools I knew just how much children love Doctor Who and how popular TARGET books novels are with today’s children that are lucky enough to have them in their school libraries.

“I told friends, ‘If I were rich, I’d buy the lot and send some off to every school in the country. Personally I can’t think of a better way of celebrating the 50th Anniversary than introducing a whole generation to TARGET Doctor Who books.’  There was lots of agreement from my friends, but all it was at that point was a crazy wish.

“Then two of them got talking together and came back with an idea: Why didn’t we do it – all put money in each? We jumped at the chance and a week later we had won the auction!  We ended up getting nearer to 14,000 books, though some are damaged.”

I think the temptation to keep a lot of the books would be too great for most fans, but Target Who maintains that this project will be far more beneficial for everyone than just keeping them locked away in boxes. The group say:

“Our feeling on this is that a book in a fan’s collection will probably be read once, if ever and filed away as part of a collection. A book on a school bookshelf can be discovered by at least 30 children EVERY year. We have bought these books because we want them to be read and enjoyed again and again. Placing them in schools allows that to happen.”

But, as the group note on their blog, there are more schools in the country than they have books. That’s where you come in… “[We hope to] inspire other fans to join our cause.  We don’t want them to buy 14,000 books and spread them all over the country.

“We just want them to buy as many as they can afford and donate them to the schools they can reach – one book in their nearest local school, if that’s all they can afford.  If they tell us where, we will add their location to the fan donation pin map. Some fans have already done this.  We have several fan donations to report in a future blog post.”

Even if it’s just one of the new Quick Reads titles, like this year’s The Silurian Gift (which costs just £1.00!), you might inspire a child to read, or inspire them to watch Doctor Who. You might even inspire them to take part in the Target Who project…

And if you head over to The Book People, you can get a set of six newly-reprinted TARGET books for just £4.99. That’s the price of grabbing a child’s attention, showing them how amazing literature is – and never letting go.

Terrance Dicks

Their first donation was incredibly special to David as he returned to his own school, Featherstone Primary School, Erdington in Birmingham, when they opened their new library. He handed out copies of Doctor Who and the Cybermen, the TARGET novel that began his love affair with literacy.

David tells me that his favourite writer is the most prolific and well-regarded:

“As a young child, I guess it was Terrance Dicks, who we’ve already included a tribute to on the blog, though I also loved The Daleks by David Whitaker.  Later in the range I really loved Ian Marter’s books.  It was a tragedy that he died so young.  I’m sure he would have embraced the Virgin New Adventure range had he still been with us and written some wonderful adult-orientated books.”

Though the idea will encompass the whole country, Target Who’s goals aren’t limited to just the UK. In fact, their second delivery was to Al Shahama Secondary Girls School in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The books, including Meglos, The Time Meddler, and Doctor Who and the Mutants, will enrich the lives of school girls who struggle to find good English literature to study and who – rather surprisingly – do watch Doctor Who. And members of Target Who live in a variety of countries, including the USA, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and even the Ukraine.

Target Who 3

Target Who is the project that sounds crazy; impossible, even. Unless, of course, dedicated people, united by their love of one show, can get together and can do something amazing. As Target Who note:

“Well, we can and we will.  Just watch us.”

Headteachers can contact the team by emailing [email protected], or by visiting their blog to find out more.


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About the Author


When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything.

7 Responses to David Dovey Explains Target Who

  1. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I’m starting to salivate as I stare at that massive stack of Target books….

  2. avatar Hoosier Whovian says:

    I have never been prouder to be a Doctor Who fan than after I read this article. Great Work!

  3. avatar Koth says:

    I was thinking of getting rid of some of mine. I’ll contact them to see if they want them.

  4. avatar vortexter says:

    I always get a little thrill when I see the Target logo. My mother and gran used to scour the second hand book shops for me making sure I had a full collection and there was always enough pocket money to get the new ones in WH Smiths and John Menzies. 35p for a book that took me on a thrilling journey through time and space? An absolute bargain!

    • I was about 12 years old when I bout my first Target novel. Actually, it was Pinnacle reprint and I bought 3. My high school held a book sale and I bought The Seeds of Doom, The Masque of Mandragora, and The Genesis of the Daleks. I read that last one so many times, I’d had to tape the cover back on. I’d been watching Doctor Who for about a year when I discovered the books and thought I had them all when I had all 10 Pinnacle books. Then a friend came to school one day with a couple of Target books he’d found at Waldenbooks in the mall. When I next went to Waldenbooks, I had a serious brain lock at trying to decide which to buy. There were so many! Those old books were my way into Doctor Who I hadn’t seen yet. And they were the inspiration for my early writing. Terrance Dicks and Philip Hinchcliffe and Ian Marter were my heaviest influences. Those old books are what got me into reading. I have the whole series on a shelf and have read them all multiple times.
      This effort by Target Who is the most massive RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) type thing I think I’ve ever seen and to think it’s Doctor Who fans and Doctor Who books… You can’t see me but I have tears flowing down my cheeks and my heart fells too big for my chest.
      Thank you, Target Who!

  5. avatar farmbrough says:

    Wonderful project, most target books are very readable, especially those by Terrance Dicks. The best thing is that (Except Fury From The Deep) they are not too long.
    “it’s not really about Doctor Who; it’s about inspiring children to read” – oh yes, ;-)

  6. avatar Paul Evans says:

    The Target novels taught me to read in the 1970′s. nothing else caught my interest. I have no doubt with out those novels I would not have done so well in education. I eventually ended up with a degree and career. I owe Dr Who so much.
    It broke my heart when it was cancelled in the early 90′s. But now it’s back stronger than ever. I hope these novels inspire a new generation to read and free their imaginations

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