a real world point of view
Under World Distributors
The Annuals were hardbound books priced at pocket money prices and released near autumn, in time for the Christmas market. Usually a mix of prose and comic strip stories intended for children, they also contained puzzles, quizzes, games and a varying amount of filler material usually having little connection with Doctor Who.
From the late 1960s through to the late 1980s (with the exception of 1972), World Distributors, Ltd published Doctor Who Annual. The often notoriously bizarre stories and comics sometimes went in very strange directions and companions portrayed in the illustrations and descriptions of regular characters often bore little resemblance to their actors.
The Doctor Who annuals were published each September between 1966 and 1979, after which it moved to an August publication schedule for the remainder of the series.
When John Nathan-Turner became Producer of Doctor Who, he exerted a greater influence on merchandising and tie-in product releases (including the Annuals) which, under his watchful eye, saw an increase in standards as well as featuring series related material. (It is perhaps worth noting that with an autumn of the year release time, the date on all annuals is for the following year. For example, the K9 Annual, dated 1983, has a print date of 1982. Some annuals/yearbooks failed to include a year date on the cover so where applicable that reference is bracketed and assumed. World Distributors Ltd stopped producing the regular annuals in 1986. A bumper volume followed featuring the best of previous editions and was the last title to be released.
There was a lapse for a few years in publication before Marvel Comics secured the license to produce a Doctor Who Yearbook. These followed the same mix of prose, comic strip stories and features, this time all Who-related and directed at a more sophisticated audience. The Yearbooks ran from 1992-1996.
Revival of the Annuals
In recent years, since Doctor Who was revived with a new Series 1, the Annual format has been redesigned, with fiction being given its own title: The Doctor Who Storybook. The Annual has been a hardback activity book for younger viewers.
The Dr Who Annuals (1965-1985)
Doctor Who Yearbooks (1992-1996)
Doctor Who Annuals (2005-present)
TV Comic and TV Action Annuals
When Polystyle Publications, Ltd. held the rights to publish original Doctor Who comic strips, they mostly exercised that right in the pages of TV Comic, though, for a few years, they published them in Countdown/TV Action. Both publications also had their own hardbound annuals, where the occasional Doctor Who strip might be found.
- Dalek annuals
- K9 Annual 1983
- Torchwood The Official Magazine Yearbook (2008)
- Torchwood The Official Magazine Yearbook (2009)