His first produced script for the series was "The Faceless Ones", but it was "The War Games", Patrick Troughton's ten-episode finale epic, written in collaboration with Terrance Dicks, that established him as a major writer for the series.
During his time working on the show, he became one of the most influential writers of the Jon Pertwee era, writing the first appearance of Time Lords, and three of Doctor Who's iconic reptile races — the Silurians, the Sea Devils and Jon Pertwee's favourite aliens, the Draconians.
He was also, along with Terrance Dicks, the original writer for the Doctor Who Novelisations for Target Books in 1973. He adapted all but two of his own stories, and Robert Sloman's "The Green Death".
Stories by Hulke:
- "The Faceless Ones"
- "The War Games"
- "The Silurians"
- "The Ambassadors Of Death"note
- "Colony In Space"
- "The Sea Devils"
- "Frontier In Space"
- "Invasion Of The Dinosaurs"
Beyond Doctor Who, he also contributed episodes to Danger Man, The Avengers, The Protectors and Crossroads. He was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain for some time, though he seems to have let his membership lapse sometime in the early 1960s. Nevertheless, his membership had a lasting effect on his political beliefs and his artistry, as reflected in the content of his Doctor Who stories; the politics of his stories were so pronounced that Michael Herbert wrote a study on the topic, Doctor Who and the Communist: Malcolm Hulke and His Career in Television. He even had an MI-5 file opened on him.
Tropes in his work include:
- Adaptation Expansion: His novelisations are considered among the best thanks to Hulke's technique of shifting the viewpoint every chapter, even adding a more human side to the villains.
- Anti-Villain: Many of his villains have a justification, or at least a reason, for being villains.
- Author Appeal: In addition to his scripts having a leftist political edge (influenced by his background as a former Communist), he was quite fond of reptile monsters.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Especially in "Colony..."
- Darker and Edgier: "The War Games" was grimmer than most Doctor Who before it, and Hulke wrote half of Season 7, which retooled the programme into something a little more mature.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": Apparently averted — Hulke was an atheist, and Terrance Dicks, his friend and protegé, told the story that Hulke had asked that no songs or prayers be done at his funeral. But he didn't specify what they should do. This led to his friends sitting awkwardly around his coffin with nothing to do, until one friend stood up, slapped the coffin, said, "Well, cheerio, Mac!" and walked out, defusing the awkwardness.
- General Ripper: Many of Hulke's villains are warmongers of some sort, often working against the peaceful intentions of others of the same race or organisation. Even the Brigadier is at his most morally-ambiguous in Hulke stories, which tend to play up the idea that the Doctor and the Brigadier have very different ideas about protecting humanity.
- Green Aesop: Hulke's only novelisation of a Doctor Who serial he didn't write was the ecology-themed "The Green Death", which was probably the closest story to his politics already.
- Grey-and-Grey Morality: Hulke stories tend to feature good and bad people... who might not always be on the same sides. Many stories feature more than two factions, all of whom might have some redeeming feature or justification.
- Lizard Folk: Invented the Silurians, the Sea Devils, the Draconians, and wrote the one with the dinosaurs. His first serial, "The Faceless Ones" also features a race called the Chameleons — ironically, despite the name they don't seem to be reptile people.
- Writer on Board: Rarely detrimental as Hulke was a very humane writer willing to give them depth and dimension, but Hulke's villains are almost always reactionary forces — fascists, bloodthirsty military types and big business bureaucrats.