Highlands & Islands

Doctor Who in Lewis Chessmen story in new BBC book

Matt Smith in Doctor Who
Image caption Matt Smith's Doctor Who encounters Vikings and a princess in the new story

The historic Lewis Chessmen feature in a new Doctor Who story written by Ayrshire-born novelist Jenny Colgan.

The new BBC book, Dark Horizons, tells of Matt Smith's Doctor arriving on the Western Isles to play on the chess set.

He finds the islands under attack by a mysterious fire and also encounters Vikings and a kidnapped princess.

The Lewis Chessmen are thought to date from the 12th Century. More than 90 pieces were found buried in a sand dune on Lewis in 1831.

Last year, six Lewis Chessmen made a rare appearance at a museum close to where they were uncovered.

A knight, pawn, warder, king, queen and bishop went on public display at Uig Museum for four-and-a-half hours on 13 September.

Most of the pieces are kept at the British Museum in London.

Eleven of the chessmen are held by the National Museum of Scotland.

Image caption The Lewis chessmen are thought to date from the 12th Century

In 2009, research cast doubt on traditional theories about the historic chessmen.

It suggested they may have been used in both chess and Hnefatafl - a similar game that was popular in medieval Scandinavia.

The research also questioned a theory that the ivory pieces were lost or buried by a merchant.

Dr David Caldwell of the National Museum of Scotland, who led the study, believed the chessmen were more likely to have belonged to a high-ranking person who lived on Lewis.

Colgan's Dark Horizons is due to be released on 7 July.

Her other novels include Amanda's Wedding and Talking to Addison.

Colgan has described herself as an avid Doctor Who fan and as a child she read adventures about the time lord written by Terrance Dicks.

Image caption Colgan said she was mistaken as a boy when she met Peter Davison when she was 11

When she was 11, she won a national fan competition to meet Doctor Who and was mistaken for a boy by Peter Davison, the actor in the role at the time.

A recent publicity photograph shows her wearing a t-shirt that reads I love Gallifrey - Doctor Who's home planet.

Colgan said: "Writing Dark Horizons has been, as my friends and family already know, a dream come true for me.

"I grew up on Terrance Dicks and I'm beyond thrilled to be joining the ranks of Doctor Who novelists."

Albert De Petrillo, senior editorial director at BBC Books, said the books showcased talented writers and bold ideas.

He said: "We were deeply impressed with the originality and enthusiasm she brought to the task of writing an 11th Doctor adventure.

"Dark Horizons is simply a terrific Doctor Who story - fast-paced, thrilling and often quite funny, it captures Matt Smith's Doctor perfectly and introduces some very memorable new characters as well.

"It's a testament to Jenny's range as a writer of quality commercial fiction, and a book I'm proud to publish on the Doctor Who list."

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