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Doctor Who: How Russell T Davies Adapted the Original Star Beast Comic


“I read the original Star Beast when it first came out, I loved it, I’ve still got my original comics, I’ve kept them with that strip in. I’ve always thought it was a great piece of Doctor Who storytelling, so coming back to it… I don’t know why I didn’t do this when I was originally on the programme? Maybe I thought we didn’t have enough money to do it, maybe I thought all those years ago we’d never have got away with The Meep. But coming back to it with modern techniques and the increased budget, I think it’s time to take one of the best Doctor Who stories from another medium that no matter how brilliant it is, maybe 50,000 people have read it, that’s all, and to show that to millions of people, to say: look how good this is.”

Gibbons’ designs for the Meep spaceship and the Wrarth Warriors were faithfully recreated in the TV adventure, and during the May 2022 filming, as documented on Doctor Who: Unleashed, both Gibbons and Pat Mills visited the set of the London steelworks (actually Uskmouth Power Station in Newport, Wales) where the Meep’s ship crashed. Tennant had them sign a copy of the comic containing the strip, and they were both introduced to the Meep in person.

Doctor Who and the Star Beast comic page detail - Doctor Who Unleashed screengrab

Doctor Who producer Phil Collinson and Tennant both remembered owning the original comic strip – which they recall came with a set of free transfers – as children, and Collinson still has a copy stored away in the loft. A wise move from him, as it’s a challenge to find now. Unless you know someone who has been stockpiling the comics, second-hand copies of the trade paperback collection that includes “The Star Beast” are currently only available for in the region of £70 second-hand. However, it has also been adapted by Big Finish, starring Tom Baker himself.

But if you do find the comic, you’ll note how much it is basically a blueprint for modern Who, circa 2005. “Doctor Who and the Star Beast” will seem very familiar if you have seen any of Russell T Davies’ episodes set in the present day. At one point Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor wears a sombrero, something Steven Moffat must be furious he never got to put on Matt Smith.

What Happens in the Comic

First of all: the setting. “Doctor Who and the Star Beast” takes place in a British Northern town in the 1980s, where there are rumours that a UFO has crashed. The rumours are dismissed because aliens would never go to a dump like the fictional town of Blackcastle.

The comic story has two strands. One is the story of two kids finding an adorable alien called Beep the Meep and taking him (the Meep’s pronouns are “he/him” in the comic) home. You might call it an E.T. parody, except E.T. wasn’t released until two years after the comic was published (although director Rachel Talalay returned the favour by paying homage to E.T.’s ‘alien hiding in a pile of cuddly toys’ scene).



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