Tuesday, 17 September 2019
Nothing accidental about that. It was all hard work and determination to deliver clever and inspired scripts full of memorable characters and situations, events that push The Doctor and his companions to be the best they can be.Terrance Dicks was part of a wonderful team of creative folk, in front off, behind and on top of the cameras, during an era when the BBC put entertaining its viewers above all else. Able to strike the balance between entertaining and subtlely informing, celebrating the human family.
Looking around my shambles of a home I can think of no other writer I have more books written by than Terrance Dicks, all those Doctor Who novelizations, years of them. Except perhaps Agatha Christie. Between them they fill shelves. Its Harry Halls all over.
There are many, many such book collections all over the world. In a pre-video, pre-pre DVD era, or the pre-pre-pre Bluray era it was the only way to experience the classic adventures of Doctor Who. All transcribed for us by a man who understood why we loved it so much and who never failed to deliver, his words playing out vividly , and budgetlessly, in the theaters of our minds.I was fortunate enough to meet him and he signed my doctor Who Monster Book vol#2.. When I was a boy, living in the attic of my folks old home, that book was my Tardis and through its pages I travelled through all of time and space with him as my guide.
Hurrah for Terrance Dicks and everything he shared with us.
There is poetry to this man's perambulations, in the classic sense of the word. You can hear the echo of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the ghostly speculations of Thomas De Quincey all mixed up with the home spun hard won wisdom of a Jack Hargreaves. He has walked down some very windy roads, has this man. It is quite moving in places and a constant reminder of the fragility of the human condition, how hard some lives are are and the lengthy paths one must forge along for self determination or even in the search of something bigger than ourselves to look up to and to long to be part off.
In most cases, sadly, that is just the human family,as this old world of ours can make one feel disconnected and spinning wildly free. To be untethered in a world where almost everything else is anchored in conventionality is not for the faint hearted.
But it is also where most of this world's magic is to be found.
Have a look for this documentary on Youtube. It is directed by John Rogers, who also has a huge archive off his own. Self narrated travelogues of roads less taken. They are filmed as he walks and talks with subtle editting that allows those journeys to feel inclusive to the listener, to the viewer. It is just you and him walking past a tiny stream or into a wooded glen where if you are very quiet and very lucky you might see a hare at play as twilight falls.
Now that I have finished the book I now realise that was not a leap into the dark but a blind folded bounce into a very familiar and cosy old bed. Wait til you find out who The Bride of the title is, fantastic stuff. It is all set in the town of Whitby too. What a stunning location for such a yarn, just the perfect back drop, forever framed against the restless sea, starkly beautiful, raw in both sea and sky. The first place in England Dracula touched down upon leaping from the doomed Demeter one dark and stormy night.
Gothic literature was never the same afterwards...
And this book by Paul Margs deserves to sit in close proximity to Bram stoker.
Years of diplomacy had not prepared him for such an eventuality but a lifetime of being a French man had perhaps done so. Regardless, he knew he was in for a long night.