Category Archives: hartnell

Gallifrey Stands Podcast 76

This week on Gallifrey Stands they talk the Witches Familiar, ratings and time shifting. After that they feature their guest companion this week, John Guilor. He talks about playing the voice of the 1st Doctor in the Day of the Doctor and recreating a missing episode with Carol Ann Ford & William Russel!

Check it out!

 

Sue Malden Q and A from DW ME Facebook group

A little while ago the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group on Facebook approached Sue Malden to see if she would be interested in doing a Q & A session to shed some light on her past involvement in stopping the junking of old TV shows, including Doctor Who. They took questions from the group, picked out 20 and sent them to Sue. Well, she has given us the answers. Here is a transcript with only the names of those who asked the questions redacted for their privacy. There are no bombshells in here, but there are some very interesting little tidbits!

What do you believe was your most important rescue for the archives, the recovery you are most proud of, for a) Doctor Who b) general TV? And if you could have saved a single missing episode of Doctor Who, which would it have been?

Sue: I think that just finding any missing Dr Who episode was a tremendous achievement. With regard to other tv progs – the missing Dads Army finds were great and have been shown by the BBC so many times.

 

What were your impressions on Philip Morris finding most of ‘The Web of Fear’ and ‘Enemy of the World’? And do you think of ‘what if’ we went to went to search physically in the first place we could have at least had those episodes back and possibly others?

Sue: Phil’s achievements are amazing – a tribute to his determination and tenacity . I agree if we had been able to visit foreign archives in person all that time ago we might have found these and others earlier, but we relied on letter contact with people in these other archives

What do you think happened to Tenth Planet 4 and Master Plan 4 after their visits to Blue Peter for clip usage?

Sue: This is a mystery I could not get to the bottom of. I am checking details again now

(Note: Sue originally provided the above answer with her partial response. She provided the follow-up answer below when she sent us the rest of her answers…..)

Sue: There was a loan record set up for the Master Plan episode it was sent to the BP film editor in October 1973), and it was logged that the print never came back to the Library. The Tenth Planet episode was not originally logged on Infax/FLOL which implies that it was accessed from Enterprises at Villiers House, as with certain other clips that survive from missing episodes of Dr Who.

Apart from doctor who which is your most wanted missing TV show you would like to see recovered?

Bob Dylan appeared in a play called MadHouse on Castle Street transmitted in 1963

When did you realise just how much material was missing, and were you shocked by the amount or had you expected to find so much missing?

When I first began working in the BBC library like many others, I presumes that everything that had been broadcast had been put away safely on their shelves. I became the Archive Selector in 1978 against a background of the Asa Briggs report into the BBC Archives and it was then that I realised that not everything had been kept and I was most shocked and needed to find out why programmes had not been kept in the archives. This is when I learned about live transmission, technology issues, re-use value of videotape, contributor rights issues   – all of which led to tapes not surviving.

Many Dr Who fans demonise Pamela Nash for the destruction of overseas duplicates…

Given that she he had ordered the creation of many of the film negatives in the first place (without which we may not have many of the episodes now….and that It wasn’t her role to keep backups – they were just overseas prints and the BBC’s attitude then was that TV was ephemeral…

Do you have a view of Pam Nash’s role back then….Is it right that she should be vilified, or do you think that the situation was more complicated than that?

Sue: I think it quite wrong to vilify Pam Nash.

You are quite right. Her job in BBC Enterprises was to (among other things) organise the copying and distribution of BBC productions for BBC Enterprises clients. As I understand it this involves arranging for duplicating masters from the original BBC masters to be made solely for Enterprises use – to copy from, thus saving wear on the original BBC master . Sometimes this would be a film recording from a 2” tape copy(and sometimes a black and white copy of a colour original). Pam was not aware of what the BBC subsequently chose to do with its masters. She was fulfilling her role meeting Enterprises requirements. Even then the BBC was not a “joined up “ organisation!

As you say – the fact that this BBC Enterprises activity was in operation parallel to the main BBC functions of production and transmission does at least mean that additional copies of programmes were being made and distributed to many countries which has meant that the chances of at least one copy of a programmes were increased.(to later be found )

I found that once Pam understood what had been happening to BBC master tapes she was helpful to our quest, but very clear that she was not responsible for the BBC wipings.

Hi Sue how are you? Thanks for all your hard work over the years trying to recover Doctor Who, Z Cars and many other programmes. Are you still involved in trying to recover missing episodes?

Sue: Hi

Many thanks. I am not directly involved these days, but do like to help out where and when I can

Thanks for the Q&A Sue. My question is how much of a process was it back in the 1970s to realise there had been a mistake in junking the BBC’s archive? Was there apprehension from other departments to abort junking in favour of retaining the status quo (i.e. continuing to junk)? What was the reaction (if any) of the unions when the BBC began retaining material for potential domestic sales?

Sue: The Asa Briggs report on BBC archives in 1978/9 was crucial in highlighting the need to review and bring consistency to the BBC’s retention activities. This report, among other things, recommended the creation of the post of Archive Selector. When I first began it was so helpful to have this report to refer to if I met any resistance from production managers!

Video recorders have been around for decades, when did staff at the BBC first think as a germ of an idea, “in the future people will have these things in their homes and they might want to access these old programmes”. Or did it just suddenly dawn on them just before the Revenge of the Cybermen.

Sue: I do not know when home video sales first appeared, but I would presume as soon as Enterprises (now Wordwide) became aware of the commercial opportunity. But unti then there were no domestic video rights negotiated or paid to the contributors so the back catalogue would need to be re-cleared – another commercial decision Going forward when a programme was made Enterprises would have to express an interest in it so that the appropriate rights could be negociated with all the contributors. Eventually these rights were written into most BBC contracts

When you started checking the archive for doctor who were there any records of non-theatrical sales (generally donated to areas like the armed forces etc ) or was there nothing like that i believe there were index cards for each DW story held by what is now BBC worldwide

Sue: I never found any formal records of non commercial distribution. There were certainly index cards for a Enterprises (now Worldwide) holdings and distribution

Was it true Sue that the directors or producers of a programme had to sign a form saying that there was no merit in keeping a story on tape? If they said no, it was junked?

Sue: It was certainly a production decision to wipe or keep and I think the wiping sheets may have been signed by the department managers, but I don’t think every individual tape was signed away!

Beyond broadcasters, is there a possibility other organisations such as government departments obtaining episodes from the 60’s?

Sue: The BFI did; govt overseas depts. did, but I don’t know on what basis and we did try to get programmes back from remote places such as the Ascension Islands

This is broader than Doctor Who I hope that’s alright, here goes. We’re told the BBC, and I assume other broadcasters, couldn’t keep everything. So was there a specific set of rooms or a building designated for this. Was it running some sort of system were new programs went in one end and the oldest programs went out the other to the skip to make space. I’m making it sound very simplistic, I’m sure it must have been much more complex. Thank you for giving some of your time to answer questions.

Sue: In the early days The VT programme tapes were managed by VT Engineering on behalf of the Production departments who would decide which of their tapes they wanted to retain depending on the significance of their content, the copyright and contractual arrangements for that programme and repeat or sale potential. In the late 1970s the library became responsible for this store and when I was appointed I could override the production decisions to wipe – using the BBC’s section criteria thus taking a wider view of the value of the programme

Not limited to Dr Who, but can Sue tell us what to do if us fans stumble across BBC material at boot-sales, junk shops etc? I live quite close to London and I often see material that may or may not be of interest, usually on old video formats, or reel-to-reel audio tapes. Is there any value in this material and should we try and get it all back, or are they just junk copies on obsolete formats that have been thrown out by the corporation on purpose, as they switch to digital formats? Also what is a fair price for us to pay and would we be reimbursed for expenses by the BBC/BFI if we have to pay out on material that might be of interest to the corporations, but might not be of any immediate interest to us as individuals? I’d be fascinated to have some advice and guidance.

Sue: It is always worth following up on any old tv or radio recordings you come across. Dick Fiddy who organises “Missing Believed Wiped” at the BFI is the best person to contact. In genera it is not likely that vhs are worth collecting because the broadcast master probably has been retained. Most interesting would be film recordings and 2 and 1 inch videotapes. All BBC material that is not required was supposed to be wiped first recycled or sent for landfill, but I know things slipped thru this process!

I cannot advise on a fair price to pay or whether it would be reimbursed by the rights owners – but I would hope so. Dick is the best person to check with, especially if possible before buying. I realise this is not so easy at a boot sale .

Were there any countries or types of countries that is it was difficult to get a response from when asking for old material to be returned, for example, countries like Ethiopia when it was under a dictatorship, and we know that some Dr Who was sold to Iran. It’s obviously rather a difficult place to approach. Do you know if they have been contacted again since the classic “Who in the name of Allah are you talking about” response many years ago?

Sue: I think almost everywhere I contacted responded, mainly because I was contacting people in the libraries . I cannot remember any rejects. Whether they all looked in the relevant stores is another matter. I do not recollect the quote, but certainly an archivist in Iran Tv was most helpful some years ago

Do you think there are any more missing episodes out there ?

Sue: Never say never!!!I think it is possible that more will be found – but who knows where!!

I’d like to ask Sue to tell us a little about her career leading up to becoming the BBC Archive Selector? Also, I’m interested in hearing about what she’s been up to since leaving the BBC.

Sue: I did a degree in Economics specialising in Economic history. My first job after leaving college was for about a year in the library of Birkbeck College London. I enjoyed library work so I decided to persue this as a career and left Birkbeck to undertake a Post grad diploma in Information Management at the Library School of the Polytechnic of North London. This ran for a year from Jan – Dec. Whilst I was there the BBC Film library advertised for student holiday relief work and I was a successful applicant. I returned to work there in Dec when I qualified – as an assistant librarian. I worked in all areas of the library including intake. In c 1975 I was sent to Lime Grove to work as librarian/researcher for the current affairs programme “Midweek”. The position of first Television Archive Selector was advertised in c 1978 and I applied.

I went on to work on the BBC’s 50th anniversary celebration, became Assistant head of the Film Library. Following management reorganisation I became head of BBC TV Broadcast Archives covering News, Photos, Music, Grams and later Radio archives. For a short period I was Head of Marketing for BBC Information and Archives I was Corporate Affairs Manager when I left in 2001. Since then I have been a freelance film researcher working mainly on current affairs productions, but also on the History of Ealing Studios and the Great War repeat. I have worked in a range of countries in the Middle East and Caribbean as a management consultant and training in archive work and research. I am currently chair of FOCAL International and also chair of the media Archive of Central England (MACE)

Hi Sue. Its 2015 now, looking back when you started cataloguing and preserving Doctor Who back in the late 1970`s, could you have possible envisaged how your work has brought joy and delight to the legion of Doctor Who fans all over the world with the releases on VHS then DVD, and do you receive much fan mail these days?

Sue: I had no idea what I was taking on when I began investigating Dr Who episodes. I just chose what I thought was an iconic, significant long-running series to investigate in order to earn about what had happened to programmes in the past. I do not get any fan mail these days!

How easy was access to the archives in the 1960s and 1970s – could items have been removed by any producers, editors and simply not returned?

Sue: In the early 1960s the library was based in Ealing studios so it is possible that “physical ” access was easier than when the archive moved to the Brentford site but I don’t know. Anyone working for the BBC with a legitimate production number could borrow from the library – it was unusual to loan a negative or master copy unless to the editor or the labs for transmission. There was also an overdue chasing process to get items back – but not always successfully. In fact the copy lent for the 1973 special did not return, but there was a master in the archive

Were copies of programs ever made for persons such as the royal family or celebrities to view at their leisure?

Sue: Hi, Copies of BBC programmes were made for contributors and others, but I do not know if Dr Who was ever copied for them.

 

Facebook Q&A with Sue Malden

Over on Facebook, the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group are currently inviting questions for another of their popular and successful Q&A series. This has already featured Philip Morris (the man who returned Enemy of the World and Web of Fear in 2013), Richard Molesworth (author of the popular book Wiped!) and Paul Vanezis (documentary producer and member of the Restoration Team) and next up to answer fan questions will be archivist Sue Malden.

Film and TV Archivist Sue Malden.
Film and TV Archivist Sue Malden.

For those whose memory is hazy at best on the saga of the missing episodes of Doctor Who, it was Sue Malden who was instrumental in the discovery and return of many thought lost episodes in the late 70s and early 80s, having been alerted to the junking of archive TV by Who fan Ian Levine. She also put together the first paper trail of episode sales, building on the work of Pamela Nash who had established a stock of 16mm prints to be sent to foreign TV stations. These along with the episodes held by the BBC were brought under one roof in the new BBC Film and Videotape Library, aka BBC Archives. Sue Malden became its first ‘archive selector’, responsible for deciding which programmes were worthy of storing there.

The film can for the existing second episode of The Evil of the Daleks
The film can for the existing second episode of The Evil of the Daleks

So, if anybody is interested in asking Sue a question about Doctor Who missing episodes in particular or Film and TV archiving in general, follow the link above to the group and add your question to the pinned thread. All questions to be received by 9pm BST (UK time) on Wednesday July 1st please.

Celebrate Web and Enemy With the Facebook Group!

October 10th will mark the one year anniversary since Enemy Of The World and Web Of Fear were announced. What an amazing day that was, breathlessly waiting for the embargo to lift so the world could find out just what missing episodes had come back!

Well the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group on Facebook is having a week long event to celebrate those stories and the man who found them, Phil Morris. Starting October 5th, the group will be discussing those seminal stories and the return their impact has had on fandom.  The week long celebration will culminate in a special Comment A Long, the “Double 6’s” as it’s been dubbed. On October 12th at 7PM UK time (2PM Central NA) group members will have the opportunity to watch episode 6 of Enemy of the World simultaneously and talk about it live as it happens via a facebook thread. There will be a short break after Enemy and at 7:45PM Web of Fear 6 will be watched and discussed.

But the fun and good times don’t end there. After the dust has settled from the double 6’s there will be a draw for some extremely exclusive and unique prizes. More details to come as they are announced!

f you are already a member of the Facebook group you will get an invite real soon and if you aren’t a member, now would be the perfect time to get on board!

Missing Episodes Update July- UPDATE

I will preface this by saying that I don’t have any sources, I only know what has been reported on the forums and to me in private.

July 17th is a day to mark on your calendar. Will there be a reveal of some sort then? Well… maybe, probably not, but maybe. In case you didn’t know, that’s the day the BFI are announcing the details of their Sci Fi season. The season will take place from October 2nd until January 2015.

From the BFI’s website:

Expect incredible one-off events, extra-special guests and a unique BFI perspective on the genre with screenings of key sci-fi films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Alien (1979), Planet of the Apes (1968) and the eerily prophetic British classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961).

Nothing in there about Doctor Who, yet. The current rumours flying around are suggesting that perhaps the BBC will announce some of the non TIEA finds at that event, topping the speculated list so far are Power Of The Daleks and The Tenth Planet episode 4. Now, this would directly contradict previous reports that Power is slated to be one of the last releases.

There are two great things about this rumour. One, it won’t be long before we find out. July 17th is just a week and a bit away, so there isn’t going to be a prolonged and excruciating wait. Having said that, there’s always the possibility that they release the schedule with some blank spots for events To Be Determined that will have us salivating and speculating until Christmas. Two, even if there is no Doctor Who connection here, as a fan of one vintage science fiction show, surely there will  be something else scheduled by the BFI to capture our interest. So, either way, I am looking forward to July 17th!

On a side note, if you have fallen off the omnirumour bandwagon over the past few months (ever since nothing happened at Easter) now might be a good time to start diving into the forums again. It seems like things are heating up again and people are getting excited once more. Maybe, just maybe, we’re nearing the end. Just an opinion.

UPDATE:

Well, the day has come and gone with nothing ME related, though I hear there is going to be a screening of Peter Cushing’s Dalek Invasion Of Earth movie. But, omnibelievers, don’t get disheartened. The BFI’s sci fi season hasn’t even started yet, not until October, so there is plenty of time for something to happen.

Happy Birthday OMNI!

Oh, doesn’t time fly? One day your baby is just a newborn in tiny clothes that are too big and then before you know it they’re out of diapers and running around the house like crazy. That is the spirit in which I wish the omnirumour a Happy 1st Birthday.

That’s right. One year ago today the news hit the internet. The omnirumour was born. Oh sure, it had been kicking around the dusty ME forums for a while prior to that, but I consider that it’s conception (continuing with my analogy) while it’s true birth was one year ago today.

As we blow the candle out on that cake, and make a wish (we’re all wishing for the same thing, I am sure), I present a repeat for your reading pleasure. Here is a little piece I originally wrote for Doctor Who Worldwide back in January, celebrating a different milestone!

Dr. MEWlove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Omnirumour

January 14th is a little bit of a milestone for me, one that I celebrated quietly on this very site. It’s not really important like my wedding anniversary or my kids birthdays, hell it’s not even something my wife wants me to talk about anymore. That’s because on January 14th my family will have been hearing my omnirumour conspiracies for a whopping seven months.

Oh, I remember June 14th very well. It was one of those warm summer days that always fill me with nostalgia. Even though I’ve been out of school for more than a decade, I still feel happy and optimistic toward the end of the semester. My brain’s hardwired to enjoy those last few weeks in June, remembering the thrill that comes when you’re set free from the confines of class and able to laze about for two months.

So I was already in a great mood when my friend Jamie came in to work. He was a recent Who convert, having spent most of his life thinking the show was more suited for his Dad than for himself. Over the course of a year my enthusiasm for the show and Matt Smith’s tenure in particular, eventually won him over and he gave it a shot, starting with “The Eleventh Hour.” I don’t know if it was love at first sight or not, but he became a fan and we’ve spent many hours discussing new episodes.

On this particular day he dropped the bombshell. “There’s a report on the internet that they found all kinds of lost Doctor Who episodes!” He said gleefully. And I stopped breathing. Literally. Even though he was a fan, Jamie had never delved into the classic series, so he didn’t really know what this news meant to me. Yes, he was aware that there were a number of classic episodes destroyed by the BBC and that my favourite Doctor, Troughton, had lost practically all of his stories. But there was a big difference between our two reactions. To him this was a “oh, that would be cool if they found them” sort of thing.

But to me it was like being struck by lightning.

A few years previous I had been sitting on my bed surfing the web. I was supposed to be writing, trying to finish up a novel that I had been working on for quite a long time. My wife was in the other bedroom trying to get our one year old daughter to sleep. It was always a challenge, the toddler hated going to bed and most nights we would have to rock her to sleep, sometimes spending hours with her in that dark room. I had hit a road block in my editing and decided to waste a little time looking at my favourite Doctor Who news site. My heart stopped when I saw the headline proclaiming that two lost episodes of Doctor Who had been found and screened at the Missing Believed Wiped event. I was so excited I fist pumped the air and hopped up and down. It was only with the utmost self-restraint that I kept myself from barging into my daughter’s bedroom and telling my wife the fantastic news. This was one of the greatest days in my life.

So you can imagine how I felt when suddenly confronted with the possibility that many episodes were found. My emotions ran free and unchecked for a moment and I doubt $50M lottery winners were as excited as I was, hopping up and down and making a complete fool of myself. After a minute I felt the tug of reality and tried to rein everything in. “That would be awesome,” I told him. “But you know you can’t believe everything you hear on the internet.” With extremely limited web access as work, I knew there wasn’t a chance of finding anything out right away. It would have to wait until I got home from work.
Those were some of the longest hours of my life. The clock ticked slower and slower as 5:30 neared, but eventually it was quitting time and I took off for home, ignoring everything and everyone on my way. Once there I burst through the door, side stepping my wife and kids to run straight for the computer, anxiously twitching as I waited for my trusted Doctor Who news site to load up. And I was devastated when it did. There was nothing. No report of missing episodes found. No rumours. Just a boring release about the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine.

Frustrated I grabbed my phone and sent Jamie a coded text that read “…” That’s it, three dots. We had come up with the response earlier in the day. It was the fastest way I could tell him that he had gotten my hopes up for nothing.

I pouted around the house for a few hours, inconsolable. Yeah, I didn’t really think that the rumours were going to be true, but still… Eight o’clock came around and it was time for the kids to go to bed. I read them a story and tucked them in. With no other distractions I headed back online, determined to find the source of the rumours that Jamie had passed along. It only took me a moment before I traced them back to Bleeding Cool and I laid my eyes on that site for the very first time.

“Will Doctor Who Have A Very Special Surprise For Us In November?” It said and under the headline was a picture from Evil Of The Daleks.

It was a defining moment in my Doctor Who fandom, one that changed my life forever. I abandoned my previous Doctor Who site immediately. No more waiting for official news, no more being completely in the dark. It was time to embrace the speculation and love the omnirumour.

 

That’s the end of my original article. Here we are six months after I wrote that and we’re still no nearer to actually seeing anymore of those episodes. The wait has been hard on a lot of fans, some more than others, but at least something good has come from it. Friendships. I have made several awesome friends over the past few months with DWW and TIMD, and don’t forget about the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group on Facebook. So, even though no more episodes have been announced, many of us are still better off than we were before.

Having said that, I would still like to see some more of those episodes…

In conversation with Andrew Cartmel

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I meet Andrew Cartmel, former Doctor Who Script Editor, writer of scripts, books, comics, and more via a Skype window early on a bright Wednesday morning. He’s good company, friendly and witty, and seems happy to discuss his work at such an early hour.

AC: Good morning!

MR: Good morning Andrew, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Obviously, as we all know very well, you were Script Editor for Doctor Who from 1986 to ’89, and Script Editors on the original series were often really what you would call Showrunners these days.

AC: That’s true, yes. That’s very true.

MR: You dictated the show’s direction with other writers, but you didn’t write for it yourself, which a lot of your predecessors did, was that deliberate?

AC: Well, I think that was basically a mistake, it was partly a combination of not wanting to just hire myself, as the standard thing to do is just commission yourself. So, that was not entirely wrong, but I felt that was a little teeny bit wrong. More importantly I really wanted to bring on a bunch of new writers, I was very keen and gung-ho to give them all a chance. In a sense I’d been given my break through the script editing, so I wanted to give other people a break. However, in retrospect, that is my greatest regret on the shows, that I didn’t write at least one story every season.

MR: It’s a shame that you never got to do that, but it’s a very good principle that you brought in so many new writers, once you’d seen off Pip and Jane Baker.

AC: Yeah, apart from Pip and Jane, whose work I didn’t like, if I had written for the show, I’d be very hard pressed to say which of those scripts, which of the existing stories I would not like to see up there. In fact, I’d like to see them all up there, so in a way it’s perhaps just as well that I didn’t write.

MR: Have you got a particular favourite of those stories?

AC: There’s no real one favourite, but Ben (Aaronovitch)’s first script, Remembrance of the Daleks generally edges across the finishing line ahead of the others, but I think there’s tremendous virtues in Survival, which I adore…..Ghost Light.….Fenric, but when I start listing them, there’s some of those virtues attached to all of them.

MR: You were very young when John Nathan-Turner appointed you as Script Editor, what was it like being such a young man, doing that job? Normally it was a job that more seasoned, veteran, tweedy writers might have done in the past….

AC: Well, as you say….. your use of the word ‘seasoned’ but perhaps not the word ‘tweedy’ indicates it’s not a matter of age, it’s a matter of experience, but as it happened, I had a very clear idea of what needed to be done. I was not unacquainted with scripts, there were still things for me to learn, but I had a good, solid feel for television scripts having written a load of them myself on spec and studied them quite closely…and I had a very strong idea of which direction we could take Who in, although that was to develop and elaborate once I started working on the show. I’m by no means saying that I knew everything, or even everything I needed to know, but I had a really good starting point.

MR: Sure, what I mean is that you came to it through a slightly different route, didn’t you, and you were younger and had very different influences, for example the interest in comics; 2000AD, Love and Rockets, Watchmen

AC: Yes, all of the above, most crucially it was Alan Moore’s comics. I remember, I was just thinking about this this morning, because I’ve been re-reading Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, because I’m currently working on some Graphic Novels for Titan. My friend Ben Aaronovitch of Remembrance fame and I are doing some comic books about his Rivers of London series, I don’t know if you know that, it’s a series of best-selling books he’s written.

MR: I don’t know it, but that sounds good.

AC: You should check ’em out, they’re wonderful, they’re supernatural police procedurals set in London, and they’re a huge success, and now we’re doing some comic books based on the characters, so I’ve been going for the first time in years into my comic book influences…re-reading the Swamp Thing, which is probably one of the first things by Alan Moore outside 2000AD that really knocked my socks off. I remember when I went in for my Doctor Who interview, I believe the Swamp Thing run was at the point where he was a spore, floating through space….I wouldn’t swear to that, but I do know that story was in my mind when I went for my interview with Jonathan Powell about Doctor Who.

MR: That’s interesting. Do you think you would have liked to have written for comics at that time?

AC: Well, interestingly Doctor Who gave me the chance to write for comics, because there was a regular comic strip feature in Doctor Who Magazine, and I had the opportunity to write for that, so Doctor Who got me writing comics at the time. I continued to write for comics briefly, I did a bit for the 2000AD Megazine, but it trailed off, but now it seems to be happening again, which is great.

MR: Evening’s Empire, wasn’t it?

AC: Evening’s Empire was the best and most beautiful thing that came out of my Doctor Who work. There were a number of stories, but that one was a long-form story, self contained, and it was published as a kind of graphic novel.

MR: Oh yes, I’ve got it.

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AC: It was perhaps a little too short and the cover was a little too floppy, you couldn’t quite call it a graphic novel, but it was a terrific piece of work on the part of Richard Piers Rayner, the illustrator. I’m quite pleased with a lot of the things I did in the story there. It had a long and tortuous and frustrating genesis, but once it finally got out there, it certainly was the best thing I’d done in comics up to that date, I’m delighted you’ve got a copy, it’s a pretty obscure item.

MR: Yes, it’s the Classic Comics reprint or something along those lines….it was the first time the whole story came out, wasn’t it? I remember reading the first part in DWM and thinking, wow, this is great, but then the second part didn’t materialise…

AC: Yeah, me too! It was serialised in Doctor Who Magazine, and Richard was doing some great work on it, but then something happened, and I never really found out what happened, I think Richard just…….. artists often lead complex and exciting lives, and he just couldn’t, or didn’t make the deadline, and didn’t deliver the art, and that was that, it just stopped in mid-stream.

Now, that’s not that unusual, there was a fantastic series by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz called Big Numbers….and that just stopped (laughs), it was great, I thought, I’ll just wait for the next issue, and it just stopped and it never started again. That was the kind of fate I thought had befallen good old Evening’s Empire, but, lo and behold, Richard did eventually deliver it. I mean this was probably a year or two later, he actually delivered all the art, and the real hero in this was John Freeman, who was my editor. Instead of just throwing up his hands in despair, John saw the project through, reprinted the earlier material and the new material and put it all together in this beautiful one-shot. I don’t remember that happening elsewhere. So, John Freeman, bless him, I thank him so much for that, cause I thought this project was dead in the water, but he actually carried it across the finishing line.

MR: It was a lovely piece of work, it was a real labour of love, to see it actually come out in colour as well.

AC: Yeah, it ended up being a better and more beautiful thing, because it was in colour, it was all together in a single dedicated comic between two covers, and it was a much, much better situation than if it had just been serialised in a fragmentary fashion in black and white. Having said that it was quite stressful waiting for it to happen, but once it was out it was great.

MR: I’d definitely read more of that. At the time I was a teenager and there was no Doctor Who on TV anymore, Evening’s Empire for me was a real highlight of that time. I walked into a newsagent, saw it on the shelf, and just snatched it up…

AC: Thank you. And what a great cover. The picture of Sophie (Aldred)’s really nice on it.

MR: Yes, it’s a great picture of Sophie, he captures her likeness really well I think.

AC: Yeah, that’s one of the things with comic artists, they’re often great in their own right, but they don’t necessarily draw the characters consistently, especially when they’re based on real people, that’s such a crucial thing. Richard did a good job on Sylv too, he looks really mysterious.

MR: Yeah, very dark, very brooding.

AC: All that business in Middlesborough at the canal, yeah. It’s coming back to me now, Martin (laughs)

MR: I didn’t realise until fairly recently, but you wrote an unproduced script for Torchwood a few years ago?

AC: Yeah, and it was a cracker, it was called The Jinx. It was superb (laughs). I say that in all modesty as the poor thing never saw the light of day. Tremendously frustrating, they paid me for it but they didn’t make it. There was unconscionable delays with that script, not at my end, at their end, and by the time they finally commissioned it, which I’m grateful that they did, because I got paid, and I got to write this lovely thing……Um…Torchwood had completely changed format, so it was dead in the water.

However, a guy at Torchwood magazine did a feature about all the lost stories, and he got in touch with me about it, a very good piece, his name is James Goss. He’s a nice bloke, and the thing is, he actually read the script and he refers to it in the article. The reason I invoke his name is that it proves that at least two people like the script, me and him! It was a terrific piece of work, and it was very Torchwood and I loved it. It was a tremendously frustrating point of my career when that just didn’t happen. At some point, perhaps somebody should put some pdfs of it out on the web and people can read and decide for themselves.

MR: That would be good to see. I didn’t realise there were plans for a third series of Torchwood in the same mould as the first two, rather than what eventually emerged, Children of Earth.

AC: It’s hard to remember now. I think I was commissioned for series two, and everything just turned to tapioca, as we say. But it’s an interesting script, and a step forward in my development as a TV scriptwriter, so I’m quite proud of it.

MR: Would you like to write for the current series of Doctor Who?

AC: Yeah…I have a standard answer for that, but we’ve got to be a bit careful with it.

My standard answer is, I’d love to write for Doctor Who, but people should really approach Ben first, as he has an idea, a fantastic Doctor Who idea. Actually, Ben’s way too busy to write for Doctor Who, but the distinction I’m making is that I’d love to write for it, but at the moment I don’t have an idea at the front of my head which I’m champing at the bit to write. Ben’s got this wonderful idea, and I keep saying to Ben that somebody should commission you to do that. However, I made the mistake of saying this in front of a reporter, I think for the Islington Gazette. Now, the headline that appeared is “Ben Aaronovitch has written Doctor Who script”…. No, he hasn’t written a script. He has in his head, within his big brain he has an idea floating around.

Yeah, so I’d love to write for Doctor Who, and I’m sure some of the other writers from my period would too, and could do a cracking job. So, we’ll see what happens. I quite understand why when Russell (T. Davies) first took over he wanted a new slate, he didn’t want to return to the earlier group of writers. But, I think, perhaps, as the years go by, people might be more open to doing that. Certainly they’ve had some of the classic directors back, and it’s in no way been a bad thing, so I’m hoping that that’ll happen.

MR: I think that would be really good. I understand where he came from as well, just bringing in new blood at first, but I would love to see Bob Baker or Terrance Dicks write for it again. I’d like to see yourself, or Ian Briggs do one.

AC: Thank you. Terrance is a lovely bloke. Did you say Ian Briggs? The great thing about Briggs is, I’ve always been so peeved at him, as he’s such a good writer, and he hasn’t been doing anything. However, lately, just a couple of weeks ago, a script from Ian Briggs came into my inbox. He had emailed me this short film he had written, and it’s hilarious, and beautifully written. After all these years he’s getting back into writing, and I had a little discussion with him about it, and he’d become disillusioned, and I understand that. I recently did some interviews for Doctor Who Magazine with all the writers of my period…

MR: I’ve been reading that, yes.

AC: Oh great. Well, a lot of these people haven’t spoken for years, and some of them have never spoken on record, like Rona Munro, and,the thing is, Rona was saying about how working on Doctor Who, it kind of spoiled her, as television otherwise was some kind of a sausage factory, and the writers were not particularly well treated. And that was what Ian was saying, he’d had a great experience on Doctor Who, and then he’d had a pretty crappy experience on shows like The Bill

I quite understand why people can lose their enthusiasm like Ian did, and to some extent, Rona did, although she’s a hugely successful playwright, radio writer, and film writer too….but, television has tended to fall by the wayside, as writers are often treated really badly in television. So, I’d love to see Briggs back again, I’m just sorry that he got discouraged, but I do understand why that happened.

MR: I’ve read the first part of the series, it’s very interesting, where you talk to Stephen Wyatt, and Malcolm Kohll….and Ian as well?

AC: Yeah, I’ve talked to Ian twice and Ben twice, and Stephen as well, as all three of them did two stories each.

MR: The second and third part haven’t been published yet…

AC: No, it was put on hold for an issue because they did the grand poll. The next issue should have part two, and the issue after that, with a bit of luck should have part three. Part one was very well received. I was just chuffed to do it, really.

MR: I look forward to reading the rest, I was with you on Time and the Rani, I remember watching it as a kid and thinking..”Oh no…”, but then Paradise Towers followed that, and that really interested me..

AC: It rallied a bit, didn’t it? I said my first greatest regret about Doctor Who was not having written any. My second greatest regret was that on Time and the Rani…..Pip and Jane and I just couldn’t agree on anything, so that was a really bad experience. I really wish I could have done a better job on that, and that it had turned out better, but failing that, I think I should have not had my name on it as Script Editor, because I cannot take any credit…..for people who loved that show, it was really nothing to do with me, and for people who hate it…..I refuse to take any blame!

So, I wish I’d just drawn a line in the sand and just said to John, look, I refuse to be credited as Script Editor on this. If I really was script editing….either I would change it completely, or I would hire other writers. And if I had drawn that line in the sand then John might have realised how seriously I felt about it. Or, alternatively, he might have found another Script Editor, so we just don’t know…But, Martin, I do need to ask, have you read Script Doctor?

MR: I don’t have a copy, but I understand there’s a revised edition.

(Andrew would like to point out that this is some of his most shameless hustling, but the revised edition of his Who Production memoir Script Doctor is now available from miwk publishing, and contains 32 pages of colour photos, plus new material from Andrew, as well as a new intro by Steven Moffat and an afterword from Sophie Aldred)

AC: The thing is, if you’re interested in the show, that completely covers it, because I through a large portion of time when I was on Doctor Who, I actually had a diary going, so I wrote down what happened, who said what….and it’s just like being there, it’s a fantastic little time capsule. It’s the next best thing to having shot a documentary at that time.

MR: It must be interesting to go back and see where your head was at, at the time.

AC: Yeah….It’s kind of lovely and also a little bit too much, because it’s a little bit too much of a trip down memory lane sometimes. It brings back memories, good and bad. No, but it’s terrific, it’s a great way of reliving it.

MR: As far as the modern series goes, do you have a particular favourite episode?

AC: You know what, the one that introduced Freema Agyeman, Smith and Jones…..I would say that one really. I thought she was such a great companion, it’s a terrific kick-ass episode, and it just sticks in my mind, but I haven’t seen them all. People are often surprised by that, but because I was so closely involved with it myself, it’s a bit of an emotional wrench to see other people doing it. I’m delighted they’re doing such a great job, but I’ve got kind of mixed emotions about it, so I don’t watch every episode.

MR: It’s a big ask to watch all of anything.

AC: Yeah, even with DVDs to catch up. However, I am doing a revised version of my book about the history of Doctor Who, and I’ve been writing about key episodes, so I’ll be watching some more of them soon. That book was called Through Time, which is a rubbish title, but the publisher was very concerned about getting in trouble for doing an unauthorised, unapproved Doctor Who book.

So it didn’t have any TARDIS on the cover, and the title was a little enigmatic, not a bad book. I watched a lot of key episodes from every era and said what I thought about them, but we’re doing a hugely enhanced new version, which is going to be called Who as Who, which at least sounds like a Doctor Who book. Over the years I’ve been involved in writing quite a few articles for DWM about the show, and the great thing about that is it’s led me to interview most of the surviving Script Editors. I’ve spoken to Donald Tosh, I’ve spoken to Chris Bidmead, I’ve spoken to Eric Saward, I’ve spoken to Terrance, on a number of occasions.

So, I’ve got all these interviews to draw on. It’s going to be about Doctor Who from the writers and Script Editors perspective, so I’m going to include those interviews. Also, we’ve managed to get hold of the writer’s guides. When I was working on the show, I wrote this document for prospective writers telling them what to do, what not to do. Apparently most of the Script Editors did that, so we’ll be including those in the book, and there’ll be some new illustrations, so it’ll be quite a nice package. So I haven’t seen a lot of the new era stuff, but I’ll be seeing a lot more about it, so I can write about it in this book.

MR: I was about to ask you if the former Script Editors ever met up and compared notes, but you’ve just answered that for me.

AC: We all got together at Panopticon many years ago to do a panel, and I’ve remained in touch with a lot of these guys since and they’re just lovely blokes. Donald Tosh is just wonderful, he’s this lovely guy, still there from the Hartnell era, isn’t that amazing?

MR: He’s the oldest surviving Script Editor, isn’t he?

AC: Yeah, and long may he survive, he’s a great bloke.

MR: I’d love to meet Terrance Dicks.

AC: Terrance and I had a lot of conversations, and the interesting thing is…we had such different approaches, so when I’m talking about how he went about his script editing and shaping the show, and how I did it, we were finding we were in complete disagreement about most things, and yet, we were each fascinated by the other guy’s methodology. He loved talking to me, as it made him think about it in a completely different way. I must say I look at the show in a different light thanks to his comments.

MR: It’s great to have that exchange, isn’t it?

AC: One of the most fascinating things was the Time Lords. I’ve always been completely against the Time Lords because they make the Doctor one of many, as opposed to a unique entity. But when you look at why they did it, and I discussed this with Terrance, who’s effectively responsible for introducing the Time Lords. I mean, the occasional Time Lord had popped up earlier, like the Meddling Monk, but the Time Lords as Time Lords from Gallifrey only really came in under Terrance and Malcolm Hulke in The War Games. And when you discuss the motivations for that it’s just fascinating, as to why it happened and why the logic took them there.

MR: If I ever cross paths with Terrance, because of all those old stories and Target Books I grew up with, I definitely owe that man a pint.

AC: He’ll definitely accept it.

MR: We spoke a little bit earlier about when you talked to the Islington Archaeology and History Society in April. You were quoted on the subject of missing episodes…

AC: Yeah that was great.

MR: What was the story with that?

AC: Well, if you actually read the story, there’s a headline that says “Script Editor says all missing episodes will be found”, and then if you actually read the body of the text it says all missing episodes may be found. Even the headline and the story disagree. I got in touch with the journalist via Twitter, as I was misquoted about Ben Aaronovitch, but they were “Well, my notes say this…”

So the guy took some stuff down wrong, but even what he got right was misrepresented by the headline. All I said was, they’ve found so many episodes, which I’m delighted about, I couldn’t be more pleased that these Troughton episodes have finally seen the light of day…how wonderful is that? Having found these great episodes in Africa, I believe, I think that there’s a good chance that all of them are out there, somewhere in some dusty corner of the world, and I hope, and I trust, and I believe we’ll find them all, but I don’t have any sort of inside scoop on it.

There was a story before that, saying I’d said that some missing episodes had been found, and that was true, but that was these rediscovered Troughton episodes that we’re talking about. I’d seen some blokes at the BBC, who had told me that, yes, they found some classic missing episodes, and I made the mistake of mentioning this. And people got really irate about it as I couldn’t quote chapter and verse, as I didn’t have any chapter and verse, so they said, “Oh, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about”. In that case what I’d said was entirely accurate, as demonstrated when those lost Troughton episodes surfaced, but in this case, I really don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m just speculating.

MR: Thanks for clearing that up for us! It’s been a huge thing in fandom the last year or so.

AC: I can understand that, as it’s such a scoop, it’s so great when they do find them, and I do hope they will find them all. So much of Troughton is missing, isn’t it, which I think in many ways is the greatest era of the show. There’s no reason more shouldn’t be found, what’s happened could be called proof of principle — it indicates that they can be found, and they are out there.

MR: Thank you very much for talking to me, Andrew, it’s been lovely to talk to you.

AC: Good to talk to you, take care.