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Black Orchid

by Terence Dudley

Book review by Paul Scoones

For a very good reason, it was with greater anticipation than usual that I sat down to read Black Orchid for the first time. Back in 1985 I tried my hand at novelising a Doctor Who story from a recording of Black Orchid. Naturally, my version was somewhat pale by comparison with other Doctor Who novels but it gave me a knowledge and appreciation of that serial which goes beyond most others.

Now Terence Dudley has written his version, thus completing Davison's first season after a long wait. Dudley wrote the original script for Black Orchid, and in my eyes, that's always a recipe for the success of the novel, This is no exception. The book is quite simply superb. Dudley obviously loves his subject, and piles masses of descriptive and informative detail into the text - here you can learn a great deal about social cricket and 1920's upper-class mannerisms and etiquette, for example.

Of the two-part serials that I have read as novelisations so far, The Sontaran Experiment was average, whilst The Awakening was splendid. This one, however is even better, and I look forward to reading Dudley's other two-parter, The King's Demons, hopefully in the near future. He displays a rare skill in his narrative as he goes from one scene to the next, exploring each character and scene with much greater depth than was ever put across on the screen. The Doctor is deeply embarrassed at being accused of murder, Tegan is frustrated at having to explain the elementary rules of cricket to Nyssa and Adric, and Charles is overjoyed at the Time Lord's skill with a bat. So good is this novel that Dudley I think can be excused the one slight continuity blunder he makes - see if you can pick it out. I said I knew a lot about Black Orchid - well reading this book has given me far greater insight into this marvellous little serial. If you only collect the cream of the Doctor Who novelisations, be sure to get this one - it's worth every cent you pay.

This item appeared in TSV 1 (July 1987).

Index nodes: Black Orchid