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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

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Wallis Simpson and Churchill in a Dr Who book? What could have been a mess is a truly vibrant and excellent book, very funny in parts. Churchill (what a thing to take on!) is quite believable.The story is great.It's an engrossing and well written book with particularly good dialogue. The only sadness one is left with is that the tv series was never allowed to develop to become as good as this because we have here a Doctor that could and should have had as much story time on air as Patrick Macnee in The Avengers. I was quite a Colin Baker fan when he was on tv though I thought the stories started to let him down really badly ESPECIALLY The Two Doctors and the entirely dreadful Trial of a Time Lord. But at the beginning, Attack of the Cybermen showed tremendous potential to return the programme to glory after the very boring Peter Davison years. In Players we have what should have been and of course IS! The Doctor here is arrogant and wistful in the way he was on TV but he has dignity and intelligence and reliability, and not a whiff of the heartlessness and prattishness that the TV story writers gave him.
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on 17 May 1999
This is Terrance Dicks' best novel for some time. As usual, the author has returned to some of his favourite stomping grounds, including a flashback for the Second Doctor in World War One. The Sixth Doctor and Peri arrive in South Africa just an assassin takes a pot shot at the young Winston Churchill. Having saved Churchill's life, the Doctor believes that more sinister forces are at work, manipulating the actions of the Boers. Hindsight is the Doctor's greatest ally and his greatest fear: how much must he interfere to insure Churchill's future? Events come to the fore in the 1930s, spurred on by the intrigues of the Nazis, accompanied by the mysterious assassin... This is an excellent adventure story, very much in the mould of Indiana Jones or even Colonel Blimp. Familiar faces from the past reappear to aid the Doctor,and the 'Players' may turn out to be very old enemies indeed... Despite believing the Doctor to be an archetypal character, Dicks has got the Sixth Doctor exactly right here. This may even be the Sixth Doctor at his best, and it's a pity that it's never going to be on TV, for Dicks allows the Doctor to ditch that dreadful coat, to be replaced by a costume that Colin Baker might have preferred. 'Players' surpasses 'Exodus': although it employs real life characters from the same period, its overall slant is contrary to the earlier book and far more tasteful. I gave this a high mark because I didn't expect to enjoy it, but I did. However, Terrance Dicks could win higher marks if only he tried to do something a bit more original.
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on 22 January 2014
Players is a Past Doctor Adventure written by Terrance Dicks, featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri and is about a shadowy group messing with the great conflicts of human history. It starts off with the Doctor and Peri landing in Africa, just in time to stop Winston Churchill being killed during the Boer War, an event which shouldn't have happened. We then hear about the Doctor's previous meeting of Churchill in a flashback to the 2nd Doctor's past, set after his trial and before his exile to Earth in what is now called Series 6b. After telling Peri the story, the Doctor sets the TARDIS to investigate in the early days of WW2.

The often disliked 6th Doctor is written as he should have been on TV. A bit brash and arrogant, but still well within the confines of the role of the Doctor. Dicks also seizes the opportunity to get him out of his usual costume, a little bit redundant in novel form, but still a show of what could have been had Colin Baker not been written for so badly back in the 80's. As previously mentioned the 2nd Doctor is also present, albeit in flashback and he is well represented too. The one downside to the Doctor(s) is Uncle Terry tends to be a bit generic, and at times you forget it's the 6th you are reading about.

The historical characters are all really well done, and portrayed just as you'd imagine them. The King being a Nazi sympathiser and more interested in marrying an actress than his role as a Monarch, von Ribbentrop being sneaky and underhand and Wallace Simpson seemingly manipulating events. History really does come alive on the page, a good thing in my opinion. The enemy of the novel are the titular Players, an enemy kind of like War Lord / War Chief from The War Games but different enough so Mr Dicks doesn't get a lawsuit.

Terrance Dicks always offers good value for money, and delivers an entertaining read without too many confusing plot lines. Players is possibly his finest work of the range to date, a little bit more complex than his usual fare, but still simply enough to be a light read. Well worth the investment.
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This is the story chosen to be representative of the Sixth Doctor era for the 50th anniversary celebrations. Terrance Dicks is a prolific Doctor Who writer and his books always, to my thinking, verge on the fairly simplistic. This is no exception. The story is an `historical' one, featuring the Doctor and Peri as they zip through various stages of time with Winston Churchill as the key feature in each period, from the Boer War to the Abdication Crisis. I found this book to be a bit of a disappointment, certainly insofar as it does not, to my thinking, represent the `best' of the Sixth Doctor era, which would have been good for the 50th anniversary edition.

The characterisations of the Doctor and Peri are fairly superficial, and they largely seem to exist as props for the narrative which features mysterious `Players' tinkering with time and attempting to influence those periods in which Churchill becomes more powerful and prominent. The Doctor and Peri are not the characters that they could be, and really could be just about anyone who happens to be in the right place at the right time.

Overall, not a great Doctor Who story, not a great Sixth Doctor story, and while it's nice to have Terrance Dicks represented in the writers for the 50th anniversary commemoration stories, I feel certain there was a better story that could have been put up, and a better story lurking in the skeleton of this specific story.
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on 22 June 2013
No doubt re-released by the BBC because it provides a credible a continuity-friendly explanation for why Winston Churchill and the 11th Doctor know each other in the TV show, this is a very plain, very simple adventure from Terrance Dicks. The prose is so sparse it's almost empty, which was appropriate for the episode novelisations Dicks grew a reputation for delivering, but lacking in an original novel. The plot itself appears to be the first act of a sequence involving the mysterious Players, who toy with human history for their own amusement, and so necessarily ends with little resolution. It's not all bad - the Sixth Doctor and Peri are very enjoyable here, and it breezes through established history with gusto. It's ultimately an empty read though, and isn't likely to stay with me for long.
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on 14 December 1999
This is an excellent book. Terrence Dicks manages to create highly believable characters (e.g. Churchill). The Players of the title are mysterious and deserve another book, to develop their characters. Some great subtle (and some not so subtle) continuity references. A very simple plot is worked out very well and it even features a lengthy cameo by the 2nd Doctor! The Sixth Doctor's character seems to be rather mellower and calm than it was on TV which is probably a good thing, but it does make him harder to relate too as the 6th Doctor. Still, an excellent book and a quick, easy and lightweight read. I wish they all could be like this.
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on 27 August 2013
This is not, perhaps, one of Terrance Dicks better contributions to the world of Doctor Who. There isn't much of a semblance to a developing plot, rather a romp through the pre-Second World War life of Winston Churchill that culminates in a conspiracy involving aliens, Nazis and British Nazi sympathisers.

Essentially the story involves a group of time meddling aliens, the Players, attempting to assassinate Churchill. It is never really made clear why they should want to do this. It appears that they may just upset timelines and history merely for fun than any ulterior objective. As such the story is set in three historical periods; The Boer War, The First World War and the years of Edward VIII's abdication in the run-up to the Second World War. In each of these periods the Players attempt to kill Churchill only to b thwarted by the Doctor (sometimes the Sixth and sometimes the Second). Why they should only try once in each time period must be part of the odd rules the Players play by that are never really given any meaningful explanation.

In fact, the eponymous Players who appear to cause or influence the events of this book don't actually feature much at all and their characters are left very basic and undeveloped. They are to feature more in other novels by Dicks, such as the Second Doctor story `World Game' and `God Game' with the Eighth Doctor. And, indeed, the Countess becomes a re-occuring character. In this novel there is very little to be learnt about them and they are easily forgettable as characters.

Many of the historical personalities such as Wallis Simpson, Ribbontrop and Churchill are portrayed as larger than life. This is fair enough in some ways considering who they are but somehow it fees as if Dicks' Churchill is a bit too jolly and lacks seriousness and conviction. What is good about the characterisation of Churchill though is that it seems to fit in nicely with the relationship he later has with the Eleventh Doctor on the television. It can be seen how this book helps to establish that relationship between the two.

Characters such as Carstairs and Lady Jennifer from the `War Games' and Dekker from Dicks book `Blood Harvest' also make re-appearances, but their characters aren't really given any development and there is nothing new to learn about them.

Dicks, who is usually spot on with his portrayals of the Doctor, misses the mark somewhat with this characterisation of the Sixth Doctor. I can understand the need voiced by Dicks in his introduction to get the Sixth Doctor out of his usual outfit (who wouldn't understand that?). But it seems as if the Sixth Doctor loses some of his brashness and loudness once he loses his outlandish costume. A lot of the time Dicks is writing for him as if he were the Third Doctor. Even the portrayal of the Second Doctor is somewhat lacking and usually Dicks is so good at this.

The prose is well written and cracks along at a decent pace, but most of Dicks other Doctor Who books would have been a better example of his work to represent him in this fiftieth anniversary series of re-releases.
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on 7 November 2014
Terrance Dicks was the script editor of Doctor Who during the end of the Patrick Troughton years and all of the Jon Pertwee era as well as stories for Tom Bakers Doctor and Peter Davison's. This story follows on from a script he wrote with Malcolm Hulke called The War Games [well worth checking out] this told the story of beings using human soldiers from different periods of history. This story one of three from Terrance Dicks about beings interfering in human history as part of a game [the other books are World Game and End Game]. The story involves the sixth Doctor and Peri with Winston Churchill through out his history as the beings try to alter history by removing a major player in history, with a cameo appearance by the Second Doctor. he writes as you would expect a script writer to write letting nothing get in the way of the narrative so the story moves along at a good pace I enjoyed the story as Dicks enjoys his playing with history. However a word of advice this particular edition is an old print and a new edition was issued in 2013 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the series with an introduction by Terrance Dicks that will tell you about the origins of the story. So there is nothing pretentious about this book it's just a good story well told, i have also read the other two books and they are equally entertaining.
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on 9 June 2013
I know I watched the sixth Doctor on TV. I vaguely remember his trial and I remember people gasping when they found out the truth about the Valeyard. I remember my dad saying he was the best Doctor in years. And I remember the coat. Boy, do I remember that coat. Anyway, when the DW 50th anniversary short stories started to annoy me I figured it was time to take a dip into the real literature. Especially after Shada made me a very happy reader the other year. So when I looked for 6th Doctor stories I knew this was the one to go with. It looked intriguing and, from what I could see, it pleased a lot of people. So I decided I wanted to join their club and, boy, am I happy to be a member. This is a great read. DW fan or not. It's fast, it's clever, it's funny and it shows that Doctor no 6 was one of the greats. Or he can be, when he's in the right hands. Terrance Dicks is very clever man with a mildly funny surname.
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on 30 May 2015
The main villains in this spend their time being dull, clichéd and useless – but fear not there is much else about this story that more than makes up for that. Firstly it is by renowned Doctor Who writer and former script editor Terrance Dicks, so you know that you are in dependable hands. Secondly Terrance Dicks contrives to surprise us with two incarnations of the Doctor when we were only expecting one. Lastly he also manages to get the sixth Doctor out of that hideous multi-coloured costume for most of the book. While I am not a great fan of TV novelisations it did its job of being an entertaining page turner that felt at least close to being an actual small screen Who tale.
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