The Discontinuity Guide
The Companions of Doctor Who

Harry Sullivan's War

October 1986

Harry Sullivan's War cover

Author: Ian Marter

Harry Sullivan's War was one of a three-book series featuring Doctor Who companions published in 1986. One of these books was a novellisation of K9 and Company, whilst the other two were original novels.

Roots: The James Bond films, to which there are several references. Van Gogh's Portrait of the Artist With Bandaged Ear plays a significant role. There are references to The Guardian, The Times, Hippocrates, Laurel and Hardy, Mickey Mouse, and Robert Delaunay's The Woman and the Tower.

Goofs: Harry's car is described as having an open top on page 73, but has a roof on the cover.

Dialogue Disasters: There are various Gollys.

'We'll never have a better world until we give up all this bally weapons nonsense and start a genuine search for peace and happiness.'

Dialogue Triumphs: 'No one questions your loyalty, Mr Sullivan, merely its precise direction.'

Continuity: Harry has his forty-first birthday near the start of the novel. It is ten years since he left UNIT, since when he has been working at the Biological Defence Establishment at Tooth Tor on Dartmoor. He is reluctantly transferred to the Weapons Development Establishment on the Hebridean island of Yarra and promoted to Surgeon-Commander. He adopts the alias Laury Varnish, an (almost) anagram of Harry Sullivan. Harry is unmarried. He was christened in the church on top of Harrow-on-the-Hill. He lives in a flat in St. Johns Wood, near Regents Park and leaves a spare key with his neighbour, Mrs. Wielegorski. His old friend Teddy Bland has a sister, Esther, for whom he has always had a soft spot and who is very keen on him. He has rowing and rugby trophies and was once a stroke oar in the Dartmouth College Ace Eight. He owns a red MG sports car. He shaved off his sideburns when he left UNIT. He weighs thirteen stone. He speaks French. Harry drinks Guinness and brandy. He employs a Mr. Hetherington of Hetherington, Popplewell and Bright, as his solicitor.

Sarah-Jane is trying to break into Fleet Street with a story on the anti-biological warfare brigade. She has moved to Camberwell. Her editor sends her to Rome to cover a World Health Organisation Conference on the environment and pollution.

The Brigadier reads The Times, largely for the crossword. His ancestral home is Stewart Lodge, located on the banks of Dead Loch, Mackie, Inverness. Dead Loch earns its name because it was used for chemical weapons testing during World War Two. He has a butler named Sergeant Curly, who secretly works for EAR-ACHES.

The Special Services know of Davros [due to the reports from the Shoreditch Incident - Remembrance of the Daleks].

Links: The Brigadier tells Harry that he currently teaches mathematics (see Mawdryn Undead). There are references to Zygons (Terror of the Zygons), Jo, Benton, Jamie, Zoe, Daleks and Cybermen. A jelly-baby reminds Harry of the Doctor.

Location: London, Yarra and Paris, over several months from May [c1983].

The Bottom Line: As might be expected from Ian Marter, the characterisation of Harry is spot-on, as is that of Sarah and the Brigadier. The idea of James Bond as an imbecile works well, but the villains and supporting characters are unmemorable, and the plot simply stops without coming to a satisfactory conclusion.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke


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