Explore the founding of UNIT through the eyes of one man – John Benton
Candy Jar Books have announced the first of its new line of standalone UNIT books set in the Doctor Who universe. The Benton Files, by Tim Gambrell and John Peel, features the very first meeting of the Brig and Benton, followed by Benton’s very first ever UNIT adventure. The editor for the new UNIT range, which succeeds the Lethbridge-Stewart books edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, is Tim Gambrell. Authorised by the Sherwin estate, the new UNIT range will move the story onwards to the founding of UNIT, the aftermath of The Invasion, and beyond.
Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, explained the thinking behind the new reinvention, “As we approach 2022, we will soon be wrapping up the Lethbridge-Stewart range of novels. It’s been a great journey, but it’s time to move on to our planned next phase.”
Candy Jar’s “greatest creative challenge yet”
Gambrell was also on hand to set the stage for the new series. “The Brigadier and Benton meeting for the first time seems such a momentous occasion in theDoctor Whouniverse,” he explains, “And we never saw it on screen. Of course, the Brigadier has a history of meeting much-loved characters off-screen. We never see the moment he first meets the Doctor in The Web of Fear, for example. And Benton is already a UNIT corporal when he shows up in The Invasion. But how did Benton join UNIT? The first story Into the Fire helps bridge that gap.
“Launching a series of books based around UNIT, and featuring the Brigadier and Benton, is by far my biggest creative challenge yet. But what an amazing opportunity it is! When Shaun telephoned and offered me the role of range editor, I remember thinking, ‘If I turn this down I know I’ll always regret it.’ So here I am, excited, enthused, immersed and loving every minute of it.”
The new editor emphasises that the new range builds upon its predecessor. “UNIT owes a debt to the work of Andy, and everything he established with the Lethbridge-Stewart books,” he says. “UNIT won’t be a direct continuation of these novels, largely because the cast will change, and we don’t want new readers to feel they need to have read the Lethbridge-Stewart books first, but I hope the two ranges will complement each other. And if we get new readers jumping onboard with UNIT, it would be great if they feel they want to check out what else Candy Jar has done previously. Personally, I want to tell stories that will appeal to fans of Doctor Who, but also to readers who enjoy action-adventure stories in general. Character-driven narratives, grounded in their contemporary world, but with a modern inclusive awareness.”
Meanwhile, the second story has been written by popular Doctor Who author John Peel, and is quite literally a race against time around the streets of Birmingham.
Original Benton actor John Levene reads the audiobook of UNIT: The Benton Files
To mark the occasion, Candy Jar have recorded an audiobook version with John Levene. This will be released simultaneously with the paperback. The Benton Files novella and accompanying audiobook can be pre-ordered now and will be released in the next few weeks. As Gambrell points out, “How wonderful it is to have The Benton Files narrated by Benton himself, the fabulous John Levene. You can hear John’s love and enthusiasm for the character of Benton as he narrates Into the Fire and Car Wars. I really hope people enjoy both versions of this release. Also, I’d like to thank Richard Young for such a gorgeous cover. He has really done us proud this time.”
You can listen to a scene from the audiobook on Candy Jar’s official YouTube channel:
The series will start in 2022, although The UNIT Files (similar to The HAVOC Files) will be released later this year.
UNIT: The Benton Files
Rifleman John Benton finds himself summoned to London, to the HQ of a brand-new organisation – UNIT – under Waterloo Station. There, he meets an old barrack room buddy, Major Bill Bishop, and UNIT’s Commanding Officer, one Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
The young rifleman is about to learn that not everything is as innocuous as it appears. Major Bishop has specially selected Benton to assist him on a mission – a mission that could change Rifleman John Benton’s life forever.
Featuring two UNIT stories…
Into the fire by Tim Gambrell
Car Wars by John Peel