After two excellent annuals featuring William Hartnell’s Doctor, World Distributors had to adapt to a change of actor in the lead role. This is the first Troughton annual, published in 1967. With his debut right at the tail end of 1966, the illustrators and writers would not have had a huge amount to go on when they were putting this together, and nowadays we are quite familiar with the lack of variety in the reference photos for the early Troughton stories.
If the cover is anything to go by, the illustrator certainly struggled to capture Patrick Troughton’s likeness. A look inside confirms this problem, as almost every picture of the Doctor is substandard; some of the drawings are very similar, indicating the lack of source material for the artists to take their inspiration from (although, judging by the picture of the TARDIS on page 47, it does not look like anyone paid a great deal of attention to the source material in any case).
There is a good balance between stories and features, although the accursed crossword is there (my copy has been filled in by some ham-fisted menace using a biro). The stories are a reasonable selection, with Ben and Polly helping Dr. Who in his adventures. Some of the ideas lack originality, such as The Sour Note, with its giant grasshopper (as if we hadn’t had enough giant insects the year before). A few interesting misconceptions have crept in, such as the description of the ‘Tardis’ in Only a Matter of Time as “the most complex and marvellous conveyance ever constructed by mankind”. This story is also notable for its take on the character of the new Doctor, following his ‘reincarnation’. Somehow, I can’t imagine Patrick Troughton speaking the lines “Glory be, Ben boy”.
Dr. Who gets to meet Nelson in H.M.S. Tardis, and encounters some tomb robbers in The King of Golden Death. A running theme of the stories seems to be a conflict between the Doctor and Ben, obviously inspired by The Power of the Daleks, which I would therefore assume is the only television story the writers had seen before they created their stories. The Doctor even goes so far as to call him a dummy in the final short story.
This is sadly a far cry from the standard of the Hartnell annuals, which can obviously be attributed in part to the fact that the authors were probably working from The Power of the Daleks and a couple of photos. But I don’t think a child of 1967 would have been unhappy to find this in their Christmas stocking. RP