Winner Takes All (Doctor Who)

Winner Takes All (Doctor Who)

title=Winner Takes All
series=New Series Adventures
featuring=Ninth Doctor Rose, Mickey

writer=Jacqueline Rayner
publisher=BBC Books
isbn=ISBN 0-563-48627-9
set_between=World War Three and The Empty Child
date=May 2005
preceding=The Monsters Inside
following=The Deviant Strain|

"Winner Takes All" is a BBC Books original novel written by Jacqueline Rayner and based on the long-running British science fiction television series "Doctor Who". It features the Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith.

DWspinoff See New Series Adventures Canonicity for more details.


The time travellers return to present-day Earth and become intrigued by the latest craze, the computer game "Death to Mantodeans". Is the game as harmless as it seems and even if it is, why are so many people going on holiday and not coming back? The Doctor and Rose need Mickey Smith's help as Earth is threatened once more by aliens known as the Quevvils.


Rose calls her Mum, who tells her that she just won the lottery and hangs up. Rose asks the Doctor if they can pop home for a bit, just to check on her. The TARDIS lands in its 'favorite spot' on the Powell Estate. Mum says that she only won a 'games thing' on the scratchcards, not money. When Rose asks about it, her Mum shows her some orange bits of paper with 'Percy the Porcupine' and silver stuff rubbed off. She says that its a test promotion in the area, and you get one every time you buy something. If you win, you take the ticket to a booth, where a person dressed as a porcupine gives you your prize.

Rose and the Doctor go to visit Mickey. Rose's Mum gave him the game that she'd won, and he's been playing it. There is a pile of games near his computer, including one called "Bad Wolf." He says everyone is playing "Death to Mantodeans" because there's a big cash award for the first person to finish it, and no one has yet. The game has a lot of difficult puzzles to solve, and seems to have a glitch, as half the time it doesn't save your game and you have to start over.

The Doctor takes the controls from Mickey, and solves one of the puzzles, causing a door to open and monsters that look like giant praying mantises show up on the other side. He fires the weapon at them and kills them. Rose says 'You don't like guns' and he replies 'I hate guns. Which isn't to say that a bit of fantasy violence can't be therapeutic.'

Rose goes out to the shop to get some tea and biscuits, since Mickey says he doesn't have any food. She passes the local bully, Darren Pye on the way, and ignores his taunting. On the way back, she finds he's throwing stones at Mrs Desai, so Rose jumps in and hits him with her bag, spilling milk all over. He pulls out a knife, but suddenly the Doctor is there and intimidates Darren into leaving. She asks why he left Mickey's, and he teases her he knew she was in trouble, but then admits that Mickey chucked him out when the Doctor beat his score by several thousand points.

On the planet Toop, there are two buildings. One looks like a pyramid with its top sliced off and the other is a solid square. In the main control room of the later building, the Quevvils are in an uproar. One of their controllers is showing amazing skill and speed, but then it stops, and the carrier is destroyed. Frinel, the leader, orders that their Earth agents find the controller.

Back in his flat, Mickey turns the game back on, but it won't work properly. Then his front door crashes open.

Rose and the Doctor are walking around, and see the many posters along the street. The Doctor looks closely at them, and wonders how humans could fit into costumes like that. They take a bus downtown to see the prize booth. They determine that tickets are needed to get into the booth, so they go to a nearby store and bought a couple of items, and when those didn't win, tried another, and another but still didn't win anything. They decide to go back to Mickey's and have a look at his game console.

When they arrive, Mickey's door is open, and Mickey is no where to be found. There are claw marks on the door. The Doctor prises off the back of the game console, and confirms that it's alien. They determine that the aliens meant to get the Doctor (because of his score in the game), but got Mickey by mistake. And the Doctor can tell he's been teleported because of the tingle in the air. Since they don't know where Mickey has been taken, the best way to follow him is to play the game again and hope the aliens take the bait. Rose reminds the Doctor that the Mantodeans are real, and he doesn't shoot any more. The Doctor says the best way to get the aliens to come find him is to beat his previous score, and then stop. If he wins, they'll have no need of either him or Mickey.

The Doctor tells Rose to hide behind his chair and hold onto his ankle. If they see her, she'll be captured too, but this way she'll be brought along without the Quevvils' knowledge. A few moments later, there is a lemon fizz in the air, and the door crashes open.

Rose was disoriented, but was able to pull herself together and hide before the Quevvils see her. She sees the protesting Doctor bundled through a door, and hears a yell of surprise from Mickey before the door is closed. When the Quevvils become distracted, she darts out the room's other door and into a hallway. There is a ladder with a trapdoor, but it is locked. At the other end of the hall is another door, and on the other side is a musty storeroom with old newspapers and magazines. She goes through the door on the other end, and finds herself at the newsagents where she'd bought the milk earlier.

The prize booth is still there. As she thinks of how to get in, she remembers something about porcupines loving salt, and swipes a salt cellar from a chip shop. She then buys a hundred penny sweets, and starts rubbing off tickets. The fifty-eighth win a game console, so she feeds it into the slot at the booth. As the Quevvil goes to get the game, she jumps the counter and dumps salt all over the trap door. She runs out the door, back to the newsagents, and into the cellar. She watches the Quevvils climb the ladder and go through the trapdoor, then went through the room to the door where Mickey and the Doctor are.

Rose unties them both, but the Doctor wants to try something before they leave. He has Mickey stay at his position, and then has Rose maneuver his game to the same place. The control pad becomes all juddery the closer they get to each other. The Doctor adjusts Rose's game, and has her try again. As they move forward, they can see people with disks stuck to their foreheads and metal cubes strapped round their necks, and Rose and Mickey recognize them both. Rose remembers her Mum telling her that Mrs Hall had won a holiday.

They hear the Quevvils coming back, and the Doctor sends Rose and Mickey back to his flat via the teleport. He tells them to collect up as many of the games as they can, to try to prevent more deaths. The Quevvils come in just as they teleported, and one fires. Mickey is hit, but only wounded. Since Mickey is hurt, Rose goes out to collect games by herself.

The Doctor manages to hide from the Quevvils, but overhears them talking about following Rose and Mickey, so he jumps out and breaks their teleport. After some running about, the Doctor is back in his chair, not playing the game, but trying to keep the Quevvils talking.

Rose goes back to her flat first, and finds it empty with a note from her Mum saying that she won a holiday and was going with Dilys. She goes through the rest of her scratchcards, hoping for a holiday, but only finds two more games. She goes back to the booth, and uses one to get inside, then when the Quevvil won't tell her anything about her Mum, throws the game back at it, knocking a pile of games over.

As a crash was heard from upstairs, the Doctor is able to escape. He uses his sonic screwdriver to get out of the newsagents and heads back to Rose's flat.

Rose runs out of the booth, and finds her Mum's friend Dilys outside. She tells Rose that they weren't able to go on holiday and gives Rose her ticket, to perhaps use later. Then she tells Rose that her Mum is in hospital, because she was beaten up by Darren Pye.

Rose isn't in her flat when the Doctor arrives, so he goes to Mickey's. Mickey shows him that someone on-line has figured out what is going on with the game, and is trying to sell them. The Doctor tells him to start spreading rumors about the games being dangerous, and then heads back to Rose's, where she finds him waiting for her. The two of them head out to try to collect the games.

They decide to tell people that the games are dangerous, but still don't have much luck collecting any. People either won't let them have it, or say that someone else had come by making threats if they didn't give it up. They learn that Darren Pye is the one threatening people, and they head back to Mickey's.

Mickey tells them that things have gotten worse. Now, not only are the games being sold, but someone is selling the holiday tickets as way to get rid of someone. The Doctor says that they need one of the holiday scratchcards for the TARDIS to figure out where the planet is. He is about to go out to the shop when Rose pulls the one Dilys gave her out of her pocket.

When they reached the TARDIS, the Doctor sticks the card in a slot in the console, and away they go. Suddenly the TARDIS lurches violently, and the Doctor says they were repelled by something, and are probably going to the place where the winning card holders materialize.

The Doctor and Rose exit the TARDIS into a grim room with a group of adults and two children. They all have metal discs stuck to their foreheads. The Doctor tries to hurry everyone into the TARDIS, but the Quevvils come in before anyone moves. They take Rose to be a carrier and tell the Doctor that he must play the game for them. As she passes the Doctor, he grabs her in a big hug and sneaks her the sonic screwdriver.

After Rose is taken away, and a disc is pushed into her forehead and a cube is wired to her body. The disc is activated, and then she is teleported elsewhere.

The Doctor tells the Quevvil 'I was planning on just rescuing everyone and, you know, maybe destroying your technology so you wouldn't do it again. If she gets hurt, though, this planet's dust. Just thought I'd mention it.' The Quevvils take the Doctor out, and bring the boy named Robert along. He tells the Doctor that the Quevvils took his mom. They are brought to a room with a large screen, and the Doctor is given a control pad. The Quevvils tell him that if he doesn't play, the boy will be killed.

Rose recovers from the teleport, but cannot move. Then her arm moves without her will, and makes a thumbs up sign, and she realizes the Doctor did it. She starts to make her way through the maze.

Back at the base, Robert throws a fit to distract the Quevvil guarding them and the Doctor managed to knock it over. He uses the control pad to remove Robert's disk and presses it into the Quevvil's forehead, then presses a button and freezes it in place.

While they were doing all this, a Mantodean was approaching Rose. At the last second, Robert sees it, and Rose jumps and gets away. The Doctor decides that he needs to make the controller work better, and tells Robert to keep an eye on Rose while he does it. Rose feels that something is changing, and then finds that she moves much easier and smoother than she could before.

The Doctor unties Robert, who searches the room and finds a map of the maze. It includes small white lights that indicate active carriers, and blue ones that are inactive.

The Doctor uses Rose to call Mickey on her phone and tells him to find all the active games. Mickey goes to the youth club, and finds several boys playing the game. He has them help him to stop people from starting new games, and to go through the ones that the Doctor and Rose collected and find saved games.

Robert is watching the map, and tells the Doctor that one of the lights is jumping around. The Doctor makes Rose head for the light, and then she uses the sonic screwdriver to remove the box so that the person can be taken out of the game. Mickey and the boys keep looking for active consoles, and another finds people online who are playing, and tells them that jumping around is a cheat of some sort.

Suddenly, the intercom buzzes, and the Doctor and Robert hurry to find a control pad so their controlled Quevvil can respond.

Mickey has gone through all the consoles he had, so he took two of the boys and some of their equipment to visit Mrs Pye and go through the consoles that Darren had collected.

The Doctor and Robert are again interrupted by Quevvils calling to find out why the game wasn't being played as expected. The door explodes before they were able to get the controlled Quevvil to respond, so the Doctor has to go back to pretending to play. He and Robert are taken to another room, with lots of Quevvils around to guard them. All of the other prisoners are brought into the room as well, and the Doctor is told that one will be killed every time he deviates from the game.

Rose makes it to the center of the game, and the Quevvils get ready to teleport, but the Doctor has Mickey send a signal that disrupts it, which atomizes all the Quevvils. Everything in the stronghold went dark and quiet, and Rose finds that she can move and talk on her own again. Rose runs out of the room and away from the Mantodeans. As she moves through the maze, she finds someone else trapped there in the dark.

The Doctor removes the control disks from all the prisoners, sends them back to Earth, and then destroys the teleporter. He then takes Robert back to the TARDIS and Robert asks how they are going to find Rose. The Doctor tells him 'Oh, the TARDIS'll manage, now the force field's down, I can't quite work out why, but she seems to have taken a shine to that girl.'

Rose is trying to think of a way to use the sonic screwdriver to get the two of them out, when she hears the sound of the TARDIS approaching. The door opens, and Robert and his mom are reunited, and they all go back to Earth.

Later on The Doctor and Rose leave the flat arm to arm, and head for the future.


*Rose tells the Doctor 'You've reversed teleportation before,' a reference to The End of the World.

*Mention is made of Rose being gone for a year, and Mickey being a suspect in her disappearance, a reference to Aliens of London.

*The Doctors dislike of guns in this book anticipates his comments in The Doctor Dances about destroying the weapons factory on Villengard.

*One of Mickey's video games is called Bad Wolf.


*In this book, Jackie seems to be much nicer to the Doctor then she is in the usual Ninth Doctor episodes.

References to popular culture

*When asked by Rose how he knew she was in trouble on her way back from the market, the Doctor replies (with a whole biscuit in his mouth) that his "fpider fenfe waf tingling", a reference to the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man and his spider-sense that helps him detect trouble.

*When briefing the Doctor and Rose about the new game, "Death to Mantodeans", Mickey mentions the PlayStation, the Xbox, "Gran Turismo", "Resident Evil", "TimeSplitters 2", "The Blair Witch Project", and "Sonic the Hedgehog".

*A reference to "Harry Potter" is made when a character daydreams about being a boy whose parents turned out to be great wizards and died fighting an evil sorcerer and is now sent to a special wizarding school to become the great wizard he is destined to be.

*Several references to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" are made by the Doctor and Rose when they are searching for a winning scratch card.

*The Doctor jokes that Cookie Monster from "Sesame Street" is really an alien.

*Rose mentions the Thunderbirds.

External links

*Doctor Who RG | id=whobb903 | title=Winner Takes All
* [ The Cloister Library - "Winner Takes All"]


*OG review | id=bbcn-2 | title=Winner Takes All
*DWRG | id=winner | title=Winner Takes All

Reviews of the first three books

*OG review | id=bbcn-123 | title=The Clockwise Man, The Monsters Inside and Winner Take All
*DWRG | id=clockwisemonsterswinner | title=The Clockwise Man/The Monsters Inside/Winner Takes All

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