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Donating 11,000 Books to School Libraries to support Children's Literacy

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Unsung Hero of Children's Literature

We are Target Who.  We are aware that we have a mixed readership here.  Some of you are Doctor Who fans like us, while others are members of the noble teaching profession.  We try to ensure what we write is accessible and inspirational to all.

Today we want to write about a very special person, who is pictured above.  We know that the Doctor Who fans amongst you are all smiling, because we all have great love and affection for him.  We suspect that some teachers are wondering who he is.  That’s a little sad, and almost a crime, given what you strive to do at work each day and what he has achieved in his life.  The man is Terrance Dicks, and in short, he taught our generation to read.

Terrance started his career in advertising, but soon moved into radio and television, contributing to shows as diverse as The Avengers and Crossroads.  He became script editor for Doctor Who during Patrick Troughton’s final year and stayed for the whole of Jon Pertwee’s era.  Later he became the final producer on the BBC’s Sunday Classic Serial Series, working on adaptions of Alice in Wonderland, The Diary of Anne Frank, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Vanity Fair.  It is his work as a children’s author we want to concentrate on here. 

In 1973, when the Target Books imprint was launched, the sales of three reprinted 1960s Doctor Who titles clearly stood out.  Target Books were keen for more stories and approached the BBC Doctor Who team.  Terrance was one of a small group of people they asked to adapt past stories and over the next 17 years he would write a constant stream of 64 books.  His books had a clear and easy to read style, but they drew you in, were fast moving and nearly impossible to put down.  All across the country an army of children became hooked on reading by his books.

He also wrote over 140 other children’s novels of all types.  From Teddy Bears, to Vampires, taking in Mounties and Dinosaurs and Ghosts along the way, children’s book shelves were crammed with titles from the pen of Terrance Dicks.  We children recognised his name as a quality mark.  It promised excitement, adventure, thrills and a satisfying ending that left you smiling as you reached for the next book.  He never disappointed.
I’m sure he is aware of all the tributes that have been made over the years, and continue to be made with regard to his contribution to the happiness and well-being of untold numbers of children across the ages.  Despite these accolades, if you should ever get a chance to meet him or watch him being interviewed, you would find him a humble and unassuming human being of the highest order.   We can never thank him enough for his contribution to not only the television industry, and Doctor Who in particular, but also to the literary education of thousands of us over the past forty years.
Today is Terrance’s 78th Birthday and we at Target Who would like to wish him the happiest of birthdays.  

Happy Birthday Terrance. 
Here are a few personal messages from other members of the team…
For me, as a youth, Terrance Dicks was the true voice of Doctor Who. Devouring
his books, most of episodes I'd never seen, I came to fervently love the show as
much as I already loved reading (which is to say, immensely).
A fine author and gentleman! 

as I look back at those formative years it is incredible to realise that through my entire upbringing Terrance Dicks played a crucial part in my education and my entertainment. 
Abominable Snowmen - Web of Fear - Faceless Ones - Wheel in Space - Smugglers - Space Pirates - - living in Canada and never having had the chance to see these
Missing Episodes, Uncle Terry was my guide to them

To my generation, Terrance is an unsung literary icon.  He may not have won a prize or received critical acclaim, but Terrance Dicks helped to get me hooked on reading and on Doctor Who, and occupied much of my spare time in primary school and beyond. And you know what? I wouldn't have had it any other way
Last Sunday I met Terrace at a signing event.  I just about managed to stammer out a few mumbled words: "My nan taught me to read letters and numbers.  My primary school taught me to read a few sentences.  You taught me to read books.  Thank you very much, Mr Dicks - it's much appreciated."
I could have said so much more, but that was enough.  For every word I've ever read or written, even for parts of my dubious and varied career, I owe an immense debt of gratitude I can neither fully articulate nor ever repay.  May Mr Dicks have the very happiest of birthdays - each and every one is richly deserved.

Terrance Dicks, more than anyone else, taught me to read.  It all started the Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion and I’ve read every one of his books since.  Without the works of Terrance Dicks I would never have discovered the joy of the written word.  Happy birthday Terrance and thank you.
Terrance Dicks the man who could create a magical world in 140 pages or less: Beat that in the modern world.
My first experience with Terrance Dicks, outside of the televised series, and foray into Target Books came in 1987. Fresh out of high school, I went to my first ever convention, DreamCon 2. I went into a rather impressive dealer's room, and gravitated to all the "Doctor Who" stuff, that was for sale. One of the things I bought was a copy of "Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken". It was a good read. Unfortunately, it has since been lost to time. But I'll always remember the joy I had reading Mr. Dicks' version of a fine "Doctor Who" Story.
Growing up in south Louisiana in the early 1980's, finding Doctor Who took some doing. Our local PBS station had begun to run some of the Tom Baker stories. Just a couple of airings and I was hooked. We had a local comic book shop back then called Southland Comics (one of the first in the state). Trips to which became a Saturday morning tradition to get each week's new comics. On one occasion I ran across this book "Doctor Who and An Unearthly Child" by Terrance Dicks. Emblazoned across the cover was the banner "First Publication of the first Doctor Who Story". This book I had to have, a chance to read how the show began. I quickly became hooked upon the "Target" line of books. Years before VHS & DVD, these books were the only gateway into stories lost to time, stories I had yet to see, & stories to relive again. Each trip to Southland Comics was filled with the hope of another new Target Doctor Who book. Another adventure to explore. One not bound by television programmers or schedules. The only limitation was how quickly you could turn the page. Happy Birthday "Uncle" Terrance!


  1. I saw a book on your blog post called 'Spitfire Summer' I remember reading that at school a long time ago, I haven't thought of it since but as soon as I saw the cover the whole story came flooding back and I was a child again. Now that's the art of a very talented writer indeed.

  2. Plaudits to 'Uncle Terrance' in the Day of the Doctor when his words were echoed by the Moment Interface describing the noise of the Tardis as 'wheasing, groaning...' Wonderful!