Candy Jar Books have announced that the release of Beast of Fang Rock had been delayed by a week. Publishing co-ordinator Hayley Cox says, “The books arrived on time, but unfortunately there was a problem with the printing and so we had to send them all back. Only the best produced product is sent out by Candy Jar Books, and so a small delay is unavoidable. Our apologies to all waiting on this new title, but be assured we hope to have the books sent out by October 29th!”
Beast of Fang Rock can still be pre-ordered direct from Candy Jar Books for the reduced price of £7.99 (plus p+p). Pre-orders will receive a free pdf-only short story, The Cult of the Grinning Man.
“The one with the lighthouse…” That’s how most people remember Horror of Fang Rock, the Doctor Who story first transmitted in 1977. It has gone on to be a classic, a fondly remembered story not only for fans, but for the general public as well. Including lighthouse keepers themselves!
Candy Jar’s Lethbridge-Stewart novel Beast of Fang Rock is the official prequel to the original television story, fully authorised by author Terrance Dicks. Eighty years prior to Horror of Fang Rock a beast is said to prowl the crags of Fang Rock, killing two keepers and driving one quite mad. What is the Beast? Where did it come from? Just was did happen in 1822? Finally the answers will be revealed.
Just as Horror of Fang Rock was a replacement script, so too is Beast of Fang Rock a replacement novel. But that is not the only way in which the two stories mirror each other. Author Andy Frankham-Allen explains: “Originally we had Terrance Dicks pegged to write this one later in the series, but when we lost a book in our first year a replacement was quickly needed; and so with Terrance’s approval I jumped on Beast of Fang Rock. The period setting of Beast is a deliberate echo of Horror. Three keepers stranded on the rock, hunted by something unknown and deadly. It was essential that I recreated that sense of claustrophobia, and so I developed a very similar dynamic, taking my cues from Terrance Dicks’ original script. Terrance is such an important part of Doctor Who’s history, indeed he’s had his hand in almost every piece of Doctor Who lore modern fans get to enjoy in the current series, that it was imperative his vision and ideals be honoured in this book.”
Not only is Beast of Fang Rock a prequel to Horror of Fang Rock, it is also a sequel, dealing with the fallout surrounding the mysterious happenings of 1902. It is set almost seventy years later, in the late 1960s, featuring hauntings, time travel, and the return of Anne Travers, last seen on television in 1968s The Web of Fear, who takes her place as co-lead in the novel series. “One of the main goals of this book,” says Candy Jar Books head of publishing Shaun Russell, “was to establish Anne Travers as a key player in the series. She had a cameo in the first book, The Forgotten Son, and a timey-wimey role in The Schizoid Earth, but this is the first book in which her part is essential to the plot. Indeed, in every way that matters, Beast of Fang Rock is Anne’s story. Doctor Who has a large female fan base, and it has always been our plan that our series has a strong female lead to whom all those fans can relate.”
Another key aspect of Beast of Fang Rock is the lighthouse. Hayley Cox, senior publishing coordinator at Candy Jar Books, says: “For centuries lighthouse have protected and saved many lives all over the world, keeping safe those who dare to battle against the ferocious elements of our world. Lighthouses feature so little in literature, and are often relegated to stories told by the older generation, but this book will hopefully remind today’s generation of the importance of the lighthouse. Not only in the past, but in today’s world. Andy has done a wonderful job of paying testament to these bastions of hope for the unwary traveller.”
Horror of Fang Rock was the opening story in Tom Baker’s fourth season as the Doctor, watched by 9.9 million viewers. It came about after author Terrance Dicks was asked for a new story to replace his script, The Vampire Mutations, which conflicted with the BBC’s prestigious dramatization of Dracula. Script editor Robert Holmes suggested Dicks write a story set on a lighthouse, even though, by his own admission, Dicks knew nothing about lighthouses. A veteran of television, with almost ten years involvement with Doctor Who under his belt, Dicks rose to the challenge and produced one of the most taught and claustrophobic scripts in Doctor Who’s history. Says Terrance Dicks, “I knew nothing about lighthouses. ‘Go and find out!’ said Bob. So I did. I soon became reconciled to the idea. A lighthouse is an isolated environment where your characters can be confined with no escape from danger. It was obvious that the menace had to come from the sea. I imagined a sort of giant jellyfish which made me think of the Rutans — the never before seen enemies of the Sontarans. The show was eventually produced and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Curiously, Horror of Fang Rock, a hastily contrived stop-gap in response to a crisis, has grown in prestige through the years. Some fans consider it my best work. Certainly it’s grimmer and darker than most Doctor Who, more akin to today’s Scandinavian dramas. The interest seems to have continued and perhaps some readers would like a further instalment. I’m sure this exciting book will fill the need.”
The making of the story was under threat by industrial action at BBC Television Centre, and the whole production had to move to the Pebble Mill Studios at Birmingham, turning the whole affair into something akin to a touring theatre troupe. Commuting was out of the question, and for weeks the cast and crew lived in each other’s pockets. These unexpected conditions led to the smoothing of relations between the series’ stars, Tom Baker and Louise Jameson, who had something of an initially fractious relationship. But with no escape, and tempers fraying, the two stars finally found a mutual respect and a very happy crew returned to London.
“Horror of Fang Rock has always been a favourite with the fans,” says Louise Jameson in her foreword to Beast of Fang Rock. “Part of the ‘recipe’ for a frightening yarn is to create something claustrophobic. And that feeling of climbing the stairs at night taps in to almost everyone’s personal childhood terror. Add the fog, the fear of being ‘jumped’ and you’re left with the stuff of nightmares. This book is hard to put down, and it’s marvellous, and very touching, that so many people are still connected to the classic series in a way I could never have predicted, even though I had the privilege of travelling through time.”
Horror of Fang Rock has maintained a healthy reputation among Doctor Who fandom for almost forty years, often being regarded as the best story of the fifteenth season, and one of the last great Tom Baker adventures. It was dark, moody, claustrophobic, helped no end by the period setting – period dramas being something the BBC has always excelled at. It is also one of those very rare Doctor Who stories in which nobody but the Doctor and companion survive. Seven supporting characters take part in the story, and all of them die by the end, through the gruesome altercation with the alien Rutan, the mortal enemy of popular Doctor Who monster the Sontarans.
That a sequel was never commissioned could be considered something of a surprise. Until now, thanks to Candy Jar Books and their Lethbridge-Stewart series of books.
Reveals the truth behind the Beast of Fang Rock (as mentioned in Horror of Fang Rock)!
Features the Rutans!
Brand new Doctor Who-inspired cover art by Colin Howard!
If you liked Day of the Daleks and Before the Flood, you’ll love this!
Sees the return of Lethbridge-Stewart’s nephew Owain!
Lethbridge-Stewart: Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen, due to be released on 23rd October. The book can be pre-ordered from Candy Jar Books.