Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars by Terrance Dicks

Published: December 1976

Edition read: Target first, 1976

Coolest Cover: I’ll go for Skilleter here. Achilleos is on the right lines, but his Tom isn’t quite right, and neither is his Sarah- plus the Skilleter has associations I’ll come to later.

Continuity Conundrums: Sarah isn’t specifically from 1980.

The BBC Budget Wouldn’t Run To: "The fire spread rapidly through the old house. Walls began to collapse and the roof fell in. The woods around the house caught, and the fire even spread to the Lodge. Soon most of the Scarman estate was an inferno of flame." (p.121)

Purple Prose: "Sarah looked through the window, out into the bustling high street of the busy country town. She shivered at the memory of the desolate world she had seen through the doors of the TARDIS- the world Sutekh would have made if he had not been defeated. The sacrifice of all those lives had not been in vain. The pity was that no-one would ever know.

Sarah closed the heavy old volume and went into the summer sunshine of her own, unchanged, twentieth century" (p124-5)

The TARDIS materialises...with a jolt

...and dematerialises...with "the dematerialisation noise"

Childhood Recollections: Along with ‘The Web of Fear, this was one of the two books I had with me when we went down to Longleat in 1983 and it bloody terrified me. It was one of those books where you had to keep the cover down so as not to be given the willies by the picture.

Ramblings: As of the week when I’m writing this, ‘Pyramids of Mars’ has been part of my life for twenty years, since I was given the compilation video for my 13th birthday. If anything, because the TV story is so over-familiar, it’s an interesting exercise to see whether the book has anything different to say. After a string of six-parters adapted with more urgency than care, I swear you can actually feel Terrance Dicks relaxing as he starts work on adapting a four-part script, with a little more space to flesh things out and add significant but telling details. As anybody at all familiar with the book will know, it’s book-ended by a prologue which elaborates on the Osirian mythology and an epilogue which sees Sarah finding out how the events at the Old Priory were rationalised by the world of 1911. In between, although it’s an essentially faithful adaptation of the story, we find out more about the supporting characters and the likes of Collins, Warlock and Clements in particular really come alive, giving a little human warmth which mostly isn’t there in the televised story. It’s that rare beast, a superior adaptation of one of the better stories, and all the better for telling us who used to buy Ernie Clements’s ill-gotten game.