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Doctor Who and the Sontaran Experiment
Series: Doctor Who-
Target Novelisation
Release Number: 56 (given to later editions)
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan
Enemy: Styr
Setting: Earth, Far Future
Author: Ian Marter
Publisher: Target Books, W.H. Allen & Co
Publication: November 1978 (hardcover)
December 1978 (paperback)
Format: Hardcover and paperback editions, 96 Pages
ISBN: ISBN 0-426-20049-7
Previous Story: Doctor Who and the Ark in Space
Following Story: Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks



  • This novelisation is based on the original television serial (DW): The Sontaran Experiment which was shown from 22nd February 1975 and written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin.
  • The cover and information shown on the right is for the original Target novel and featured the artwork of Roy Knipe. (See below for information on other UK and international editions which published with a different cover).

Publisher's Cover Blurb

Landing on Earth, now a barren, desolate planet, Sarah, Harry and the Doctor are unaware of the large, watching robot. The robot is the work of Styre, a Sontaran warrior, who uses all humans landing here for his experimental programmes.
What has happened to the other space explorers who have come here? Why is the Sontaran scout so interested in Earth and is brutally torturing humans, including Sarah Jane? Will the Doctor, be able to prevent an invasion and certain disaster, and save both Earth and his companions?


  • None

Deviations from the Televised Story

  • Unlike the televised story, in which the Doctor, Sarah, and Harry use Space Station Nerva's transmat to come down to Earth, they come down in the TARDIS, which is then accidentally returned to Nerva by the transmat.
  • Nerva is consistently referred to by the Doctor and other characters as "Terra Nova".
  • Despite being called Styre on the back cover, within the text the Sontaran refers to himself as Sontaran Military Assessor Styr.
  • After falling down a hole, the Doctor has a dream about rats chewing their way into the TARDIS.
  • Harry initially believes the Sontaran to be a Golem.
  • The Sontaran robot is called a Scavenger and is described as hovering and octopus-like. It is much more sophisticated than the version seen in the televised story (probably owing to the limitations of a television budget).
  • Styr's energy weapon is built into his armor, and described as "concealed" by the armor.
  • The Sontaran ship is much larger than the ones seen in the televised version, and a description of its interior as multi-chambered is given. It is also apparently patrolled by smaller versions of the Scavenger.
  • Inside the Sontaran ship, Harry discovers two more Sontarans, apparently hibernating.
  • Sarah destroys one of the patrol robots with the the Doctor's sonic screwdriver.

Author, Writing and Publishing Notes

  • Ian Marter suggested novelising this two-parter which no-one else was interested in doing.
  • Marter also portrayed the character of Harry Sullivan in the story. He had previously adapted The Ark in Space, in which he had also appeared. These two books are unique as being, to date, the only examples of a Doctor Who actor adapting his own TV stories. Marter would go on to write numerous other novelisations for Doctor Who before his death in 1986 (with postumous publications continuing for more than a year thereafter).
  • This was the first time a two-episode story was adapted for a novel, and established that it was possible to expand the somewhat scant material of a two-parter into a full-length novel, opening the door for later adaptations of the other two parters in the series.

Associated Images

To be added

Publishing History (UK)

First Publication:

  • Hardback
W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd. UK
  • Paperback

Re-issues: To be added

International Editions

To be added

External Sources


This article uses material from the "Doctor Who and the Sontaran Experiment" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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