Yes. The BBC and Virgin Publishing had been engaged in negotiations for several months over the renewal of Virgin's license to produce Doctor Who fiction, namely the New and Missing Adventures and the Decalog books. These negotiations were unsuccessful. Beginning in June 1997, BBC Books will be publishing two series of novels, continuing the NAs (now featuring the Eighth Doctor) and MAs (now also including the Seventh Doctor as well as his six predecessors). The BBC novels will appear once a month, as per normal, and will just be called "Doctor Who", as opposed to NAs, MAs or anything similar. BBC Books is also said to be interested in producing a third monthly series, and a line concerning the Doctor's adventures in Earth's past has been mooted; however, there are no firm plans for a third series yet. BBC Books will also publish volumes of themed short stories along the lines of the Decalog books, plus their own non-fiction. Both writers of the NAs/MAs and newcomers will be writing for the range.
Will the BBC Books line be similar in style to the Virgin line?
Yes and no. The main difference between the BBC novels and the Virgin novels will apparently be the tightness of the continuity between novels. Unlike Virgin, BBC Books wants their novels to largely stand alone, without very many links tying one novel to its predecessors. The intention is to allow new readers to get into the series at any point. Furthermore, the BBC novels wil not feature characters from the New and Missing Adventures, including the adult Ace. The BBC books will be just a shade shorter than the standard Virgin novels, at around 75,000 to 80,000 words. Stylistically, on the other hand, it would appear that BBC Books wants to rock the boat as little as possible, and none of the elements which have made the NAs controversial -- sex, swearing, violence and complex storylines -- are being banned outright, although unlike the companions in the NAs, the companion(s) in the BBC novels will not themselves be allowed to have a sex life. Writers will be asked to bear in mind that BBC Books is generally regarded as a publisher of "safe" novels, but original editor Nuala Buffini suggested she did not want to alienate the current New Adventures readership by sanitizing the novels or talking down to the audience.
Will BBC Books be accepting unsolicited manuscripts like Virgin did?
Yes, and began doing so on September 9th. At that point, then-editor Nuala Buffini was already swamped with submissions, and so a reply may take some time. The Writers' Guidelines are now available, and should be read before sending in any material (they differ wildly from Virgin's Writers Guidelines, for instance, so prospective writers should beware).
What's the address for BBC Books?
All correspondence related to Doctor Who novels should be directed to Doctor Who Books, A3008, Woodlands, 80 Wood Lane, London, UK W12 0TT. You can also e-mail BBC Books at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATED! Will the BBC novels be available outside the UK?
Yes! It can now be confirmed that the US distribution situation is in the process of being resolved. BBC Books is currently looking for an American company to publish the books themselves (effectively creating an American edition of the novels). Once this is accomplished, the novels should be available as per usual. Unfortunately, the most recent reports indicate that this is being held up while the BBC looks for the most lucrative deal possible. The books may not be available until late summer or fall at the earliest. Several popular science-fiction/fantasy retailers have turned to importing the novels directly from the UK in the meantime. It was previously reported that McLelland and Stewart would be distributing the novel in Canada. In fact, McLelland and Stewart holds the rights to distribute all BBC Books in Canada, but have reportedly declined to pick up the Doctor Who books. New Zealand appears no better off, as BBC Books has yet to locate a distributor/publisher in that country, either, and unlike North America, does not apparently intend to rectify the situation in the near future, do to the perceived lack of sales of the Virgin novels in that part of the world. The situation in other countries such as Australia is presently unknown. As for the post-Doctor New Adventures, although it did appear for a time that their continued distribution in North America was up in the air, it would now appear that they will continue to be available as before.
Who will the new companion be?
In the first BBC Eighth Doctor book, Terrance Dicks' The Eight Doctors, the Doctor will be joined by Samantha "Sam" Jones, a 17 year-old student at Coal Hill High School. According to the BBC Writers' Guidelines, Sam is "an idealist and a crusaer... bossy, brave to the point of recklessness [who] tends to make snap judgements and acts on them. Sam always knows what's right, and what's best for everyone." Sam sees herself as a rebel, but because her middle class parents are so liberal and understanding, she has had very little to actually rebel against. It seems Sam's introduction in The Eight Doctors will be relatively fleeting; much of her initial development will come in the subsequent few novels, particularly Vampire Science by Kate Orman and Jonathan Blum. Jon has admitted that the character's "role model" will be Lisa Simpson from TV's The Simpsons.
So that's it for the NAs and MAs?
Not exactly. While the NAs and MAs will no longer be featuring the ongoing adventures of the Doctor, a so-called "mini-series" of novels will take up the gauntlet, without the Doctor Who logo but still under the NA banner. This mini-series will feature the ongoing adventures of Bernice Summerfield. Initially, they will be written only by established authors but new authors will be considered further down the line. Although characters and monsters from the Doctor Who TV series will presumably be off-limits, anything created in the NAs and MAs will probably be fair game, meaning characters such as Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart, the Chelonians and Irving Braxiatel could all potentially appear.
Now that the movie has aired, what will happen in the New Adventures?
The Seventh Doctor's final appearance in the NAs was in March's Lungbarrow by Marc Platt (although the much-delayed So Vile A Sin by Ben Aaronovitch and Kate Orman will appear in April, making that book the Seventh Doctor's actual final NA appearance). After Lungbarrow, the April NA will feature the Eighth Doctor and will be written by Lance Parkin.
Is it true there is a new editor for the BBC Books Doctor Who range?
Yes. Original editor Nuala Buffini has been replaced by Stephen Cole. Cole also takes over Buffini's responsibilities handing other area of Doctor Who merchandising, such as the video releases.
Will BBC Books be using McGann's likeness on their covers?
It appears not, although the reasons for this have not been made known. Certainly, Virgin Books utilized McGann's likeness on the cover of their Eighth Doctor New Adventure, The Dying Days.
Will old NAs/MAs continue to be available beyond June?
Yes, but not for very long. It seems Virgin Doctor Who fiction titles will be pulped in October, meaning that only those novels already in-stock in bookstores will survive. This does not apply to Virgin's non-fiction titles, however, as the company still has a license to produce these (such as the Handbooks).
UPDATED! What Doctor Who books are forthcoming?
NA: The Dying Days by Lance Parkin (ISBN: 0 426 20504 9), So Vile A Sin by Ben Aaronovitch and Kate Orman (ISBN: 0 426 20484 0) MA: The Well-Mannered War by Gareth Roberts (Fourth Doctor, Romana II, K-9 Mark II; ISBN: 0 426 20506 5)
Oh No It Isn't! by Paul Cornell (Benny Adventure; ISBN: 0 426 20507 3) Decalog 4: Re:Generations edited by Andy Lane and Justin Richards (ISBN: 0 426 20505 7)
The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks (Eighth Doctor; ISBN: 0 563 40563 5) The Devil Goblins From Neptune by Keith Topping and Martin Day (Third Doctor, Liz Shaw, UNIT; ISBN: 0 563 40564 3) Dragons' Wrath by Justin Richards (Benny Adventure; ISBN: 0 426 20508 1) Postcard Book (ISBN: 0 563 40561 9)
Vampire Science by Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman (Eighth Doctor; ISBN: 0 563 40566 X) The Murder Game by Steve Lyons (Second Doctor, Ben, Polly; ISBN: 0 563 40565 1) Beyond The Sun by Matthew Jones (Benny Adventure; ISBN: 0 426 20511 1)
The Bodysnatchers by Mark Morris (Eighth Doctor; ISBN: 0 563 40568 6) Business Unusual by Gary Russell (Sixth Doctor, Mel; ISBN: 0 563 40575 9) Ship Of Fools by Dave Stone (Benny Adventure; ISBN: 0 426 20510 3 )
Genocide by Paul Leonard (Eighth Doctor; ISBN: 0 563 40572 4) The Ultimate Treasure by Christopher Bulis (Fifth Doctor, Peri; ISBN: 0 563 40571 6) Down by Lawrence Miles (Benny Adventure; ISBN: 0 426 20512 X) Decalog 5: Wonders edited by Paul Leonard and Jim Mortimore (ISBN: 0 426 20515 4) A Book Of Monsters by David J Howe (ISBN: 0 563 40562 7)
War Of The Daleks by John Peel (Eighth Doctor; ISBN: 0 563 40573 2) Illegal Alien by Robert Perry and Mike Tucker (Seventh Doctor, Ace; ISBN: 0 563 40570 8) Deadfall by Gary Russell (Benny Adventure) Book Of Lists by Justin Richards and Andrew Martin (ISBN: 0 563 40573 2)
Alien Bodies by Lawrence Miles (Eighth Doctor) Eye Of Heaven by Jim Mortimore (Fourth Doctor, Leela; ISBN: 0 563 40567 8) Ghost Devices by Simon Bucher-Jones (Benny Adventure) The Second Doctor Handbook by David J Howe and Stephen James Walker (non-fiction)
Mean Streets by Terrance Dicks (Benny Adventure)
Kursaal by Peter Anghelides (Eighth Doctor) The Roundheads by Marc Gatiss (Second Doctor, Ben, Polly, Jamie) Tempest by Christopher Bulis (Benny Adventure)
Option Lock by Justin Richards (Eighth Doctor) The Face Of The Enemy by David A McIntee (UNIT) Walking To Babylon by Kate Orman (Benny Adventure)
The Longest Day by Mike Collier (Eighth Doctor) The Witch Hunters by Steve Lyons (First Doctor, Susan, Ian, Barbara) Short Trips edited by Stephen Cole
UPDATED! What's coming up in the books?
Appearing alongside the Eighth Doctor in The Dying Days are Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Bernice Summerfield; it is set on May 31st, 1997 and features the Ice Warriors ("updated" like the Master in the TV movie).
Kate Orman has completed Ben Aaronovitch's So Vile A Sin, which was originally scheduled for November but had to be postponed when a hard drive crash resulted in the loss of most of the material. The novel sees the departure of Roz and the conclusion of the Psi-Power arc which began in Warchild.
The May NA, Oh No It Isn't! (which has also gone by the title Behind You!), will feature Bernice rather than the Doctor, and starts off an ongoing series of Benny Adventures Decalog 4's short stories will all concern the family and ancestors of Roz Forrester. All eight Doctors appear in The Eight Doctors, which will also introduce the Eighth Doctor's new companion, Samantha (aka Sam); the Master's presence will also be felt. Irving Braxiatel returns in Dragon's Wrath.
Short Trips, the short story collection from BBC Books, has been postponed until March, contrary to previous reports that it would see print in 1997 Vampire Science was to have featured Dr Grace Holloway until the BBC nixed the idea at a late stage.
John Peel claims that War Of The Daleks will "do a number" on Remembrance Of The Daleks and reveal Skaro was not destroyed after all; Peel is also writing Legacy Of The Daleks, which stars either the Third or Eighth Doctor and features the Delgado Master. Jo Grant returns in Genocide, as do Professor Litefoot and the Zygons in The Bodysnatchers.
Business Unusual (formerly The Chains Of Command) forms the introductory Mel adventure; it will not feature the Master, but neither will it contradict Mel's origins as recounted in Millennial Rites
The Cybermen return in Illegal Alien; their use temporarily held up the book as the BBC tried to clear their appearance with the estates of their creators Decalog 5 concerns the Ten Wonders of the Universe
A second proposal has now been accepted by BBC Books from Martin Day and keith Topping entitled The Hollow Men. This was originally due to feature the Eighth Doctor, but has been rewritten for the Seventh Doctor and Ace. It is due out around April. Also, the BBC were so pleased with the Waro (from Devil Goblins From Neptune) that they've asked the pair to bring them back in a future novel.
Chris Cwej and Jason Kane return in Deadfall (though, despite previous reports, there do not appear to be firm plans to have them become series regulars); earlier, Jason pops up in Beyond The Sun.
Eye Of Heaven was originally touted as an NA about three years ago (it was the first of a two-book set with Conjunction, which would have been written by Paul Leonard). It now appears that, due to the pressures of deadlines, there will be no December novels from BBC Books.
Dave Stone's second Benny Adventure, Oblivion, will see the return of Chris, Roz(!), Jason and several characters from Sky Pirates!.
The Face Of The Enemy features UNIT versus the Master without the Doctor. According to David A McIntee, it will see the Master "at the height of his evilness, but forced into situations where he has to in effect be the hero." Ian and Barbara also appear, as will another companion, well before his or her first appearance in the televised series. The Longest Day sees the Eighth Doctor and Sam encountering a new race of monsters called the Kusks.
Future Decalogs beyond Decalog 5 are on hold at present, depending on the sales figures for the fourth and fifth volumes. Amonst those submitting a proposal for further installments of the series is Martin Day.