Doctor Who and the War Games

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The War GamesThe War Games


Pages 143
ISBN 0-426-20082-9
Publication Date 25 September 1979


1979 Target Books edition

Mud, barbed wire, the smell of death… The year is 1917 and the TARDIS had materialised on the Western Front during the First World War.

Or had it? For very soon The Doctor found himself pursued by the soldiers of Ancient Rome, and then he and his companions were reliving the American Civil War of 1863. And was this really Earth, or just a mock-up created by the War Lords?

As Doctor Who solves the mystery, he has to admit he is faced with an evil of such magnitude that he cannot combat it on his own – he has to call for the help of his own people, the Time Lords.

So, for the first time, it is revealed who is Doctor Who – a maverick Time Lord who ‘borrowed’ the TARDIS without permission. By appealing to the Time Lords he gives away his position in Time and Space. Thus comes about the Trial of Doctor Who…

1990 Target Books edition


Mud. Barbed wire. The smell of death. The year is 1917 and the TARDIS has materialised on the Western Front during the First World War.

Or has it? Escaping from execution by firing squad, The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe meet charioteers from Ancient Rome, Georgian Redcoats, and Confederates from the American Civil War.

Someone – someone as knowledgeable as The Doctor himself – has created a simalcrum of Earth, and has gathered soldiers from every era of the planet’s bloody history. And someone is playing war games.

This adventure was first broadcast on television in 1969. It marked the end of Patrick Troughton’s tenure of the role of the Doctor, and it revealed for the first time something of the Doctor’s past and of his fellow Time Lords. This novelisation, first published in 1979, is by Malcolm Hulke, one of the writers of the original television script.

Doctor Who – The War Games is available as a BBC Video and will be broadcast on BSB television during 1990.



  • Prologue

  1. Sentence of Death
  2. Escape
  3. The Time Mist
  4. Back to the Chateau
  5. The War Room
  6. The Process
  7. The Security Chief
  8. Battle for the Chateau
  9. The Trap
  10. Fall of the War Chief
  11. The Trial of Doctor Who


    • Notably, the unnamed aliens of the original serial are called the War Lords and are considered pretenders to the Time Lords. The survivors of the games are carefully selected, collected and stored in preparation for a future war of galactic conquest.
    • Given that author Malcolm Hulke had only 144-pages to cover the ten episode serial, much of the original story has been condensed with many scenes not featuring The Doctor, Jamie or Zoe summarily removed to fit the allotted word count. Most scenes featuring Barrington and all scenes featuring Crane have been excised. Upon arrival, an unnamed group of British soldiers believe the travellers to be spies rather than Barrington himself.
    • Despite these abbreviations, there are several new characters that appear briefly in Hulke’s adaptation:
      * Two deserters from opposing armies in the 1917 Zone, George Brown and Willi Müller, wonder if they are going mad after Willi witnesses the disappearance of the ambulance.
      * In the Roman Zone, Drusus Gracchus and Brutus Sullas plan to make a sacrifice of “three goats, two pigs and a human slave” to appease Mars when they too see the ambulance vanish into thin air.
      * Smythe briefly reunites with a fellow War Lord masquerading as Count Vladimir Chainik of, a Russian officer from the Crimean War.
      * A Russian guard named Petrov Ilavich is reflecting on his motives for joining the Tsar’s army when a Chinese soldier from the Boxer Rebellion and one of Arturo Villar’s bandits sabotage a telecommunications point.
      * A Confederate soldier in the American Civil War Zone is given the rank and name of Private Cornelius Lanierof the 2nd Virginia Batallion.
      * The Doctor and Zoe encounter two female soldiers from the Spanish Civil War.
    • In addition to those mentioned in the televised story, there is also mention of the Korean War, American War of Independence, Punic Wars, Mongol Invasion, Spanish Civil War, Franco-Prussian War and Second Sino-Japanese War.
    • The novelisation reveals that SIDRAT is an acronym for “Space and Inter-Time Directional Robot All-Purpose Transporter”. According to the War Chief, green-coloured crystals obtainable only on Gallifrey are vital to the creation of their time control units. It is a lack of access to this element, combined with the substitution of subpar materials, that has ultimately contributed to the SIDRATs’ limited lifespans.
    • Waiting for The Doctor, Jamie and Carstairs to return from their raid at the château, Lady Jennifer and Zoe briefly discuss whether they should go in after them. Jennifer considers Zoe’s behaviour to be rather radical and asks whetheror not she’s a new socialist.
    • The Doctor describes how the First World War was fought to Jamie in great detail. In a similar scene, The Doctor explains to Zoe how the American Civil War started over the legality of slavery in the Southern states. It is mentioned that by Zoe’s time, no one has heard of the United States.
    • After being recognised by the War Chief, The Doctor is prevented from escaping with Zoe by a Japanese samurai warrior who is accidentally struck down by the War Lords’ stun-guns.
    • Unlike his televised counterpart, Von Weich is accidentally shot by a guard during Jamie and Russell’s attempted attack on the War Lords’ base rather than in the barn.
    • Before he is returned home, Jeremy Carstairs asks The Doctor whether all the suffering of the First World War will be for nothing. The Doctor reflects that: “You have answered yourown question, Lieutenant. War is always death and misery, and both sides lose. I hope that one day you humans will find another way to settle your arguments.”
    • Immediately following their escape from the War Games, the TARDIS materialises on a “galactic South Sea island ” covered in lush foliage and exotic flowers. Unable to stay, their next port of call brings them deep beneath the ocean and to the scrutiny of a curious shark, before they arrive in deep space. The Doctor attempts to use the maximum power-drive to outrun them, but the ship is inevitably brought back to Gallifrey where it is impounded as in the televised story.
    • The Great Voice of the Time Lords is noticeably distinct from those presiding over The Doctor’s trial.
    • Jamie expresses a desire to return home in the novelisation, rather than an open resistance. When returned to her appointed time, Zoe is met on Space Station W3 by an unnamed man rather than astronomer Tanya Lernov as in the original serial.
    • The theft of the TARDIS becomes an additional charge at The Doctor’s trial. Although the subject is broached during “Episode 8”, no mention of it is made at the tribunal itself. The inclusion of this second charge matches the accounts of this event given at the start of Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion and in the original edition of the Making of Doctor Who.
    • An additional exchange between the members of the Time Lord tribunal and the Great Voice is included in the novelisation after The Doctor is whisked away through the void to begin his exile on Earth. The Great Voice notes sadly that while they agreed with the ruling: “A pity. He [The Doctor] would have brightened the place up no end.”

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