Friday, 14 August 2015

Doctor Who Target Books available on the London Underground

Are you old enough to recall that time in the late 70s when the Target range of Doctor Who novels shrank by about a quarter of an inch?  Here's why.... 

I remember those cast iron metal machines firmly fixed to the brickwork of the London Underground. These robust fellahs allowed to you purchase pocket-sized bars of Dairy Crunch or boxes of fruit Poppets

You put a coin in the slot and used all your strength to yank open a drawer in which - if you were lucky - was a single bar/box of confectionery. If there wasn't, hard luck... as the nearest member of staff was usually one of the nominees for Surliest Underground Worker of the Year.

Target Books - famous for their burgeoning collection of Doctor Who novelisations - had the idea of using these machines to sell their wares. I mean, who wouldn't want to read the novel of The Web of Fear in the very location in which it is set? 

A test model was constructed and installed on the platform of Covent Garden tube station in 1977. 

Sadly, the project was doomed from the start when it was discovered the books - despite being printed in a more compact form - were still too large to fit in the machine. Further attempts were made to shrink them to the size of a Kit Kat but the whole thing was hastily abandoned. 

The specially printed - and slightly smaller - books were eventually given away as part of a "Doctor Who Book Bonanza" competition the following year. 

And that is why, the Target novelisations' size shrank by several millimetres for a short period of time in 1978. 


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