Doctor Who and the Pirate Planet


By David Bishop

At the end of 1989, Doctor Who was coming to an end and I was preparing to emigrate halfway round the world to London. I wasn't sure how long I'd stay in Britain [I'm still there, sixteen and a half years later] or when I'd be back. One of my final jobs was completing a task I'd volunteered myself for, adapting Douglas Adams' debut Doctor Who adventure The Pirate Planet into prose for the NZDWFC. Nothing like having a deadline for concentrating the mind, I find.

I thrashed the text out on an old typewriter, sitting at a dining room table in my father's house. Paul Scoones kindly fixed the many errors and the results were published in 1990. Several years later Paul re-edited the text for a new edition, adding material gleaned from the original scripts. I happily agreed with this - anybody who wants to make my work look and read better is always my friend!

Fast forward to the year 2006; Doctor Who is back, a pop culture phenomenon that's bigger than ever. I have to pinch myself most days to believe that it's true, after 16 years of waiting. [Funny how the 1996 TV Movie has been all but forgotten, isn't it?] Meanwhile, the NZDWFC is keeping pace with the times as always, publishing The Pirate Planet and all the other TSV Books online. Over the years these fan-produced novelisations have drawn no little praise for tackling tricky stories and doing them justice. I'm looking forward to seeing the results when they go online - hopefully you'll enjoy them as well.

In February this year, I went to the Gallifrey convention in Los Angeles. Among the guests was David Warwick, who played Kimus in The Pirate Planet. By chance we ended up chatting while waiting to be introduced to the convention on the opening night. Realising I was from New Zealand, David told me about living in Auckland for several years in the early 1980s. He had fond memories of life in Ponsonby, even though it was a much rougher and less genteel place back then than it is today. So, it seems there's more than one thing linking New Zealand with The Pirate Planet.

Enjoy the story. All the best bits are by Douglas Adams, all the good bits are by Paul Scoones and I filled in the rest!

David Bishop
Scotland, May 2006.