Virgin New Adventures

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The Virgin New Adventures were a series of novels from Virgin Publishing based on the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who, which had been cancelled in 1989, continuing the story of the series from where the television programme had left off. The novels were published from 1991 to 1997, and all but the final book involve the seventh doctor, who had been played on television by Sylvester McCoy.


Publication history

Doctor Who

Virgin had purchased the successful children's imprint Target Books in 1989, with Virgin's new fiction editor Peter Darvill-Evans taking over the range. Target's major output was novelisations of televised Doctor Who stories, and Darvill-Evans realised that there were few stories left to be novelised. He approached the BBC for permission to commission original stories written directly for print, but such a licence was initially refused. However, after the television series was cancelled at the end of 1989, Virgin were granted the licence to produce full-length original novels continuing the story from the point at which the series had concluded.

The range, titled the New Adventures, was launched in 1991 with a series of four linked novels, beginning with Timewyrm: Genesys by John Peel, who had previously contributed to Target's successful range of novelisations. Of the other three initial authors, Terrance Dicks had been a regular contributor to both the television series itself and the major contributor to Target's book range; Nigel Robinson had been Darvill-Evans' predecessor as editor of the Target books; and Paul Cornell, although new to professional publishing, had been an active contributor to the Doctor Who fanzine scene and was beginning a career as a television scriptwriter.

The initial four Timewyrm books were a big success, and the range quickly became a regular monthly series. Eventually, the novels became popular enough that not only did Virgin switch to a monthly publication schedule, it also put out another range, the Missing Adventures, which told stories of previous incarnations of the Doctor.

However, following the Doctor Who television movie in 1996 the BBC chose not to renew Virgin's licence to produce Doctor Who novels, choosing instead to publish their own line of original Doctor Who fiction. After 61 New Adventures and 33 Missing Adventures, Doctor Who fiction came to an end at Virgin with The Dying Days, their only Eighth Doctor novel.

Bernice Summerfield

The New Adventures series continued with Bernice Summerfield, one of the new companions introduced for the New Adventures as the lead character, starting with her taking up a job as professor of archaeology at the St Oscar's University on the planet of Dellah. The new line was written by many of the writers that had written for the New Adventures and continued to feature elements of both the Doctor Who New Adventures and, to a lesser extent, television continuity. Indeed, its concluding arc — the so-called "Gods arc", which sees an alien race with god-like powers devastating Dellah — ties in with concurrent events in the BBC Eighth Doctor Who line. The links between the NA Dead Romance and the two-volume Eighth Doctor novel Interference (all written by Lawrence Miles) are particularly close.


The New Adventures were self-described as being "stories too broad and deep for the small screen," and to take Doctor Who into "previously unexplored realms of time and space". What this meant, in practice, was a shift towards more adult-oriented science fiction writing, and using the literary form to be able to play around with the standard conventions of the series. From the beginning, the novels were controversial for their use of sex, violence and bad language, although this was never as frequent or as extreme as most people seemed to believe, and over time, fans began to accept the new direction as the series found its audience.

Among the developments were a "hardening" of Ace, with a story arc that had her leave the Doctor for three years (from her perspective) and returning as an older and more cynical character, more morally ambiguous endings and the introduction of new companions, such as Bernice and the Adjudicators Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester. Bernice, in particular, proved so popular that in addition to appearing in her own novels, she has gone on to star in her own audio plays as well.

The novels were guided by the so-called Cartmel Masterplan, which was the backstory that Doctor Who story editor Andrew Cartmel had constructed for the television series when it was cancelled and never brought to fruition. Hints were therefore dropped about the "true" nature of the Seventh Doctor, which culminated in the penultimate novel in the Virgin series, Lungbarrow, written by Marc Platt.


As well as introducing new characters, the range also provided a showcase for new writing talent for the series. The most notable was Paul Cornell who wrote the most popular novel (according to the Doctor Who Magazine poll) Human Nature. Other writers from the TV series though also got their chance to take part to varying degrees of success, with one of the best received being The Also People by Ben Aaronovitch. Even Russell T. Davies, the man now in charge of the 2005 revival of the television series, contributed to the range with his novel Damaged Goods.

Despite moving to the BBC, however, the writers (many who cut their teeth with the Virgin series) have attempted to maintain continuity with the Virgin range and many elements from this series have appeared in later Doctor Who stories. With Big Finish Productions acquiring the licence to produce both Doctor Who and Bernice Summerfield audio plays and short fiction, the legacy of the Virgin novels continues. The audio plays The Shadow of the Scourge and The Dark Flame, for example, are both set within the universe of the Virgin novel line. Although the continuity of the audio plays and the BBC's Eighth Doctor Adventures diverge sharply from each other, they both broadly appear to maintain continuity with the Virgin series, although Big Finish's early Bernice Summerfield works did not.


By 2002, copyright in some of the books had reverted to the individual authors, and BBCi decided to take advantage of this by negotiating to make some of the most popular and sought-after of the now long out-of-print series available to read for free online as part of their Doctor Who website. These e-book versions have in some cases been slightly re-written by the original writers, and include such bonuses as illustrations and DVD commentary-style chapter-by-chapter notes by the authors.

List of Virgin New Adventures

Featuring The Doctor:

Title Author Published
Timewyrm: Genesys John Peel June 1991
Timewyrm: Exodus Terrance Dicks August 1991
Timewyrm: Apocalypse Nigel Robinson October 1991
Timewyrm: Revelation Paul Cornell December 1991
Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible Marc Platt February 1992
Cat's Cradle: Warhead Andrew Cartmel April 1992
Cat's Cradle: Witchmark Andrew Hunt June 1992
Nightshade Mark Gatiss August 1992
Love and War Paul Cornell October 1992
Transit Ben Aaronovitch December 1992
The Highest Science Gareth Roberts February 1993
The Pit Neil Penswick March 1993
Deceit Peter Darvill-Evans April 1993
Lucifer Rising Jim Mortimore & Andy Lane May 1993
White Darkness David A. McIntee June 1993
Shadowmind Christopher Bulis July 1993
Birthright Nigel Robinson August 1993
Iceberg David Banks September 1993
Blood Heat Jim Mortimore October 1993
The Dimension Riders Daniel Blythe November 1993
The Left-Handed Hummingbird Kate Orman December 1993
Conundrum Steve Lyons January 1994
No Future Paul Cornell February 1994
Tragedy Day Gareth Roberts March 1994
Legacy Gary Russell April 1994
Theatre of War Justin Richards May 1994
All Consuming Fire Andy Lane June 1994
Blood Harvest Terrance Dicks July 1994
Strange England Simon Messingham August 1994
First Frontier David A. McIntee September 1994
St Anthony's Fire Mark Gatiss October 1994
Falls the Shadow Daniel O'Mahoney November 1994
Parasite Jim Mortimore December 1994
Warlock Andrew Cartmel January 1995
Set Piece Kate Orman February 1995
Infinite Requiem Daniel Blythe March 1995
Sanctuary David A. McIntee April 1995
Human Nature Paul Cornell May 1995
Original Sin Andy Lane June 1995
Sky Pirates! Dave Stone July 1995
Zamper Gareth Roberts August 1995
Toy Soldiers Paul Leonard September 1995
Head Games Steve Lyons October 1995
The Also People Ben Aaronovitch November 1995
Shakedown Terrance Dicks December 1995
Just War Lance Parkin January 1996
Warchild Andrew Cartmel February 1996
Sleepy Kate Orman March 1996
Death and Diplomacy Dave Stone April 1996
Happy Endings Paul Cornell May 1996
GodEngine Craig Hinton June 1996
Christmas on a Rational Planet Lawrence Miles July 1996
Return of the Living Dad Kate Orman August 1996
The Death of Art Simon Bucher-Jones September 1996
Damaged Goods Russell T. Davies October 1996
So Vile a Sin Ben Aaronovitch & Kate Orman May 1997
Bad Therapy Matthew Jones December 1996
Eternity Weeps Jim Mortimore January 1997
The Room With No Doors Kate Orman February 1997
Lungbarrow Marc Platt March 1997
The Dying Days Lance Parkin April 1997

due to Aaronovitch's difficulty in completing the novel solo to deadline, it was delayed and co-written by Orman, eventually being published after The Dying Days. It is listed here in the position it occupies in the series' ongoing narrative continuity.

Featuring Bernice Summerfield:

Title Author Published
Oh No it Isn't! Paul Cornell 1997
Dragons' Wrath Justin Richards 1997
Beyond the Sun Matthew Jones 1997
Ship of Fools Dave Stone 1997
Down Lawrence Miles 1997
Deadfall Gary Russell 1997
Ghost Devices Simon Bucher-Jones 1997
Mean Streets Terrance Dicks 1997
Tempest Christopher Bulis 1998
Walking to Babylon Kate Orman 1998
Oblivion Dave Stone 1998
The Medusa Effect Justin Richards 1998
Dry Pilgrimage Paul Leonard and Nick Walters 1998
The Sword of Forever Jim Mortimore 1998
Another Girl, Another Planet Martin Day and Len Beech 1998
Beige Planet Mars Lance Parkin and Mark Clapham 1998
Where Angels Fear Rebecca Levene and Simon Winstone 1998
The Mary-Sue Extrusion Dave Stone 1999
Dead Romance Lawrence Miles 1999
Tears of the Oracle Justin Richards 1999
Return to the Fractured Planet Dave Stone 1999
The Joy Device Justin Richards 1999
Twilight of the Gods Mark Clapham and Jon de Burgh Miller 1999

The adventures of Bernice Summerfield continued in a series of novels and short story anthologies published by Big Finish Productions in 2000.

See also

External links


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