Friday, 18 July 2014

Great Unreleased Doctor Who Merchandise of the 20th Century - part five


Published by Orbital Education Books Ltd - 1967 - original price 9d

When William Hartnell left 'Doctor Who' in 1966, his agent managed to link his name to a series of children's non-fiction titles to capitalise on his continued popularity and, one assumes, to provide some income for the now out-of-work actor. Similar in concept to the 'Doctor Who Discovers' series, the books were planned to deal with such diverse subjects as 'Rockets', 'Prehistoric Monsters', 'The Bible', 'Domestic Science' and 'Rocks' according to trade adverts for booksellers and libraries at the time.

Only the first one - 'William Hartnell's Book of Outer Space' - seems to have been published and even this only appeared in school library suppliers catalogues in 1967. Some - possibly remainded editions - were sold in branches of John Menzies in Scotland during their 1968 summer sale according to sources. 

As is usual with these kind of books, Hartnell's involvement appears to have been little more than to lend his name to them. The introduction of the 'Outer Space' edition purports to be written by the actor and is signed with his signature. In it, he waxes lyrical about the magic of outer space claiming that "fantasy is now very much reality with, I predict, a man walking on the moon by the end of the next decade and atomic bases on the satellite by 1999." 

Needless to say, the rest of the book is a little more accurate thanks to a text by a mysterious someone referred to on the cover as "P. Moore". Attempts to find the author by this writer have been to no avail.

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