Category Archives: New series

Series Eight takes over the press: Capaldi, Coleman, Moffat, Gatiss, Wheatley, Minchin speak

As July ends and August begins, the publicity campaign for Series Eight continues in earnest, with a variety of interviews and in-depth features published in The Sunday Times, Empire, SFX, and Entertainment Weekly over the last week. Here are some choice cuts from the above, which are all available now.

On the show’s direction:

Steven Moffat: “It was time to change. Certain things we were doing a little reflexively. Some of the humour was getting a bit glib. One of the hardest things to notice is when your new idea has become your old idea and it’s time to get rid of it.” (Empire)

Peter Capaldi: “We still blow a lot of shit up. That’s very important, but it’s going to be a bit different from what we’ve seen over recent years. A bit more gravity. Some situations are a bit more sombre and I think there are more rooted dramatic scenes…. we have another level of drama, another tone. And the scenes are longer.” (Sunday Times)

Jenna Coleman: “It’s amazing how different it feels. It’s darker. The limits feel like they’re being pushed more in terms of the danger and the dread. It’s scarier, that’s for sure. A producer once told me this is the hardest job because you’re creating characters and telling stories while always on the run. But Steven’s changed the format quite a lot. We have much longer scenes now.” (Empire)

Ben Wheatley: “For me, they’re back to classic Who, or the mid-Tennant adventures, where you’d tell a story and move on to the next one, less tied up in the final machinations of long plot arcs.” (Empire)

On the New Doctor:

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Capaldi: “He’s more alien than we’ve seen him in a while, and he is less patient with the foibles of human beings. Somewhere in the regenerative process, human beings have lost their charm for him. But they begin to work their magic eventually.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“It can become a kind of franchise where it’s not a real character at all but just an amalgam of elements that people think are Doctor Who: a scarf, a bow tie… I wanted to be the actual Doctor Who. (Empire)

Wheatley: “Capaldi’s his own man but there are elements of Baker and Troughton and Pertwee. He’s inherently funny but inherently brooding and complicated, as a performer and a man.” (Empire)

Mark Gatiss: “I’ve seen quite a bit of him and he’s absolutely fantastic. Peter’s just got this amazing, fierce, funny, slightly alarming quality to him – he reminds me a lot of Alastair Sim, actually. You’re not quite sure where you stand with him; he’s very funny, but he’s got this glint in his eye and I think it’s a terrific run of episodes.”

“The brilliant thing about Doctor Who is that it’s always changing like the central character – not just the face of the actor, but the direction of the show. David and Matt were both wonderful, but both were very human Doctors and I think it’s time to remind people that the Doctor isn’t always like that. He’s that sort of Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and even Christopher Eccleston style actually: it’s someone who’s not immediately going to be your best friend and can be quite abrupt and rude.” (Islington Herald)

Capaldi’s casting

Capaldi:“I wouldn’t have thought it would be me – because of my age. I would have thought they were automatically heading younger. I’m technically too young for the part, because he’s over 2,000 years old.” (Entertainment Weekly)

Moffat: “I did say, ‘No, we probably won’t end up with another quirky young man. I didn’t think there was any space around Matt to have another Doctor of that kind, because he sort of sums up what you could do with that. I very very quickly, very quickly just thought about Peter. There is no right age to be the Doctor.” (Entertainment Weekly)

On Clara’s relationship with the Twelfth Doctor:

Coleman: “With Matt’s Doctor [Clara] felt quite safe, really, she knew she’d be caught if she was in danger, but this guy is a lot less human-friendly and a lot less patient. He’s more removed and inaccessible. You can’t quite access him in the same way.” (Empire)

Capaldi:“There’ll be no flirting, that’s for sure. It’s not what this Doctor’s concerned with. It’s quite a fun relationship, but no, I did call and say, ‘I want no Papa-Nicole mo–ments.’ I think there was a bit of tension with that at first, but I was absolutely adamant.” (Sunday Times)

On Clara, and Danny Pink:

Coleman: “It’s like seeing a control freak out of control. She has a boyfriend and she’s a schoolteacher and then she travels around the universe with The Doctor. She’s trying to live those lives separately and not let them collide.” (Entertainment Weekly)

Brian Minchin: “He’s (Danny) a teacher at the same school as Clara. Clara decides she’s not going to leave her life behind to go travel in time and space. She’s starting a relationship with Danny so she’s going to keep both lives going at once.” (Entertainment Weekly)

On Capaldi’s costume:

Moffat: “He wanted to be quite stark, stark and skinny. A stick-insect sort of thing. Clara actually calls him a grey-haired stick-insect at one point. We had some hilarious pictures of Peter just dressing up. It was all coming from him because he’s really into his clothes. I didn’t feel qualified to go and chat too much about it. Certainly the costume didn’t go anywhere until I shut up. The thing I’ve learned about showrunning is you need to know the bits you’re bad at!

“I’ve got certain things that I’ll say – I don’t want anything in that costume that I have to write into the script. I don’t want people saying ‘But why are you dressed as a circus clown?’ I want him to walk into a pub, a restaurant, a space conference, an army base and nobody stares at him.

“There was an issue simply because it’s quite dark as a costume and it’s a show that largely takes place in a tunnel. I kept saying ‘We are going to be able to see him, aren’t we?’ I suppose the red lining helps, when the flaps are open.

“I think there’s always something a little bit formal about the Doctor. Oddly enough in this series, for whatever reason, he seems to be wearing different outfits far more often than the Doctor normally does. He’s got his basic outfit but he’s in a spacesuit in one of them, and he’s a caretaker in another one and then he’s all dressed up in a later episode. He does vary it a bit. And he mixes up the basic costume, hugely. We’ve tended to see the white shirt version in public but actually the one I like best is when he wears the jumper under his coat. I think he looks like a submarine commander, like an old sailor or something. It makes him all rugged and handsome!” (SFX)

Jenna Coleman on Series Eight guest stars:

Keeley Hawes

“She’s great. She’s playing this naughty but nice, really sexy villain who kind of kills you but with a sweet smile.”

Foxes

“She’s really cool, I know her personally as well. I don’t actually know how much I can say about it but it’s a very clever way in which she is brought in and—what can I say?—there’s music!”

Frank Skinner

“He is a huge, huge, huge Doctor Who fan. We’d do scenes between me and Peter and then you’d often just see Frank basically soaking it all up and just really really enjoying being on the TARDIS and the whole experience. It was funny to have a proper, proper fan who really does know everything about Doctor Who folklore.”
(Entertainment Weekly)

Capaldi’s monster wish list:

Capaldi: “Axons appeared as these kind of god-like creatures, but underneath they were festering bags of flesh. I’d love to see a modern version of that. I’d also like to see—this is really one for geeks—the return of the Mondasian Cybermen. They came from the planet Mondas and first appeared in The Tenth Planet. They were absolutely terrifying, with cloth faces. That was really creepy.” (Entertainment Weekly)

Moffat:“I always thought the Axons had a natural resemblance to a BAFTA. “We’re not bringing those [The original Cybermen] back, because they look like boys with sweaters pulled over their heads. But Peter and I are not having a fight about which Cybermen are better.” (Entertainment Weekly)

On rumours of the return of The Master:

Moffat: “There’s always that rumour. It didn’t come from us.” (Entertainment Weekly)

50th Anniversary Box Set announced.

After months of rumour, this month’s issue of Doctor Who Magazine confirms the release of a limited edition 50th Anniversary Box Set this Autumn.

The box contains Matt Smith’s final three episodes as the Doctor, Mark Gatiss’s excellent An Adventure in Space and Time, Peter Davison’s comedy short The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, as well as a wealth of related programmes broadcast by the BBC around the 50th anniversary, and online extras like The Night of the Doctor.

In addition, previously unseen behind the scenes footage is included.

This set looks to be the last word on the 50th anniversary festivities, the only thing missing, sadly, is Matthew Sweet’s excellent Culture Show documentary You, Me, and Doctor Who.

The release will be limited to runs of 4000 on DVD and 6000 on Blu-Ray, and is available from September 8th. More details when we have them.

Full details:

The Name of the Doctor
The Night of the Doctor
The Day of the Doctor
The Time of the Doctor
An Adventure in Space and Time
The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide
The Science of Doctor Who
Doctor Who Proms 2013
The Last Day
The Day of the Doctor Readthrough
The Day of the Doctor Cinema Intros
Deleted Scenes
Behind the Scenes action
BBC America Documentary: Tales from the Tardis
BBC America Documentary: Farewell to Matt Smith

Series Eight Trailer and lots of leaks…

Last night,  in the middle of their coverage of the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, the BBC debuted the first full trailer for Doctor Who Series Eight.

And, what a trailer! At just over a minute long we see glimpses of Daleks and their saucers,  a Tyrannosaurus Rex,  various unnamed new creatures,  all manner of explosive chaos going on, a veiled Vastra, and of course, the Twelfth Doctor and Clara, who he promises to take “into darkness”……….

It’s obvious from this trailer that Peter Capaldi is going to make one hell of an impact as the Doctor, cutting an imposing figure and looking absolutely right in the role. We at TIMD are excited. Roll on August 23rd and Deep Breath.

And on that subject, if you’re reading this you’ll no doubt be aware of two major  leaks relating to Series Eight in the last week; firstly the scripts of the first five episodes have found their way onto the web and rapidly circulated, and then, unfinished monochrome work prints of the first two episodes found their way to torrent and file sharing sites.

Our advice is to avoid these leaks, and don’t be tempted to download them.  Don’t spoiler yourselves with a month to go. Don’t be tempted to read, or to watch the unfinished episodes, which are missing FX sequences and aren’t ready yet. Of course, fandom abhors a vacuum,  and waiting for the Doctor can be a long slog at times, but it’s not long to go, and we at TIMD think that what’s coming is going to be pretty special.

So, take a deep breath until Deep Breath, watch the trailer again, and let us know in the comments below if you spot anything we haven’t. To paraphrase a friend of ours, good times are coming.

Frank Cottrell Boyce confirmed for Series Eight

After months of rumours suggesting his possible involvement, the BBC has confirmed that the as-yet unfilmed episode ten of Doctor Who series eight will be written by acclaimed children’s novelist and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Cottrell Boyce’s past work includes the films Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People, Millions, and A Cock and Ball Story, as well as numerous children’s novels and scripts for TV. He is perhaps best known for his collaboration with Danny Boyle on the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony.

Cottrell Boyce is quoted by the BBC Press Office as saying: “Of all the thrills that pen and paper have brought into my life, there’s nothing that quite compares to the buzz of unlimited possibility that rushes through your fingers and into your brain when you write the words: ‘Interior … TARDIS’.”

“I was flabbergasted to be asked to write an episode – partly because I’ve been so absorbed in the last few series that I’d sort of forgotten that it wasn’t real.”

The BBC have also revealed that the episode, which goes before cameras after the two part series finale, will feature a cast of child actors, and be directed by Sheree Folkson and produced by Paul Frift.

How much Doctor Who are we getting this year?

Series eight of Doctor Who is almost upon us, and we’ll soon get to find out if Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor is a good man.

The BBC, as usual, are being very secretive about anything but guest stars and writers, with info slowly being drip-fed in anticipation of a big launch in August. One thing that remains shrouded in mystery, however, is the actual number of episodes we’ll be seeing this year.

Since 2005, the norm has traditionally been fourteen a year, albeit sometimes split into two shorter runs across the year. In series seven the usual fourteen episodes were joined by two more specials, but split across two years.

Back in October Steven Moffat stated that there would be “at least thirteen episodes” this year. However, it’s unknown whether this includes a Christmas Special or not.

When details of Matt Smith’s exit were leaked early by e-mail last year, the number of episodes for this year was stated as a slightly reduced twelve.

Another interesting factor is the announcement of ‘feature length’ opener Deep Breath. Feature length can mean something the length of The Day of The Doctor (75 minutes), but it could mean longer, perhaps a double-length episode to act as a big tentpole intro for Capaldi?

What is known, is that filming on the two-part finale is underway, bringing the total filmed for this year to eleven. It could be just secrecy, as the production team are playing it closer to their chests this year, particularly after some of last year’s problems with leaks, but, if you pick through what we have been told, no mention has actually been made of any further episodes yet to film. A lot of the round-ups going round at the moment online are more fan supposition based on filming photos and scant information, than cold fact. The truth is, there’s nothing firm been said.

There could be an episode or more yet to go before the cameras, from earlier in the series. Some round-ups suggest an episode ten, written and directed by TBA and TBA. If there is, we know nothing about it; who is writing, directing, who is in it…….it could be a Neil Cross episode that’s been mooted, or, less likely, a Neil Gaiman one. Or one by Frank Cottrell Boyce. If all three, then there’s your fourteen, and that’s presumably not including any Christmas special, as Moffat writes those….

Anyway, before I get carried away, until we hear it from the production team, it’s just conjecture.

So, if there is , say, one other episode to come, that makes twelve.

If a Christmas Special is to follow, then we’re up to thirteen. Does Deep Breath‘s ‘feature length’ status, mean that we will get the same run-time as fourteen episodes spread over thirteen?

Some fans argue that if there is a shorter run, we might see a leaner, more focused series. I’m on the fence about the benefits of that, but it’s also possible that we might have a season the same length as usual, but in a different format.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be exciting finding out. Who keeps count when you’re having fun, anyway?

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Karen Gillan’s new series drawing closer to a premiere

Karen Gillan is about to star in a new series for ABC in the US. The series is called ‘Selfie’ and from the promo doing the rounds, Karen appears to be the main star of the piece and she appears to be playing a severe narcissist.


It might not be the cup of tea that most Who-fans tune into, but it looks to have the potential to be funny and at a guess, popular. The only thing that’s disappointing is to hear her doing an American accent. This writer would like to see people on the whole using their own accents when working abroad. It works both ways across the pond (did you see what I did there?) lest we forget ‘Evolution of the Daleks’.  Don’t get me started on fake Australian accents.

I reckon I’ll tune in and give it a go. What do you think?

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.

 

A Conversation with Neil Perryman

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Neil Perryman is the man behind Adventures with the Wife in Space, the story of a fanboy husband and his not-we wife (Sue), on a hilarious mission to watch the classic series of Doctor Who together from the start, including the bits that don’t exist. For two years, Sue skewered sacred cows of fandom and cursed the name of Terry Nation, while Neil fought his corner and dodged thrown cushions.

“The Experiment”, as it was known, began life as a blog, and has since spawned a book, published by Faber and Faber in 2013 (oh look, a review).

Neil and Sue have since taken on Blake’s 7, and are now three series into their Adventures with the Wife And Blake.

Neil and I meet on Skype on a Sunday afternoon. We quickly establish that the weather is too nice in both Bournemouth and Durham for us to be indoors, but have a nice chat anyway…..

MR: Tell me about the experiment, were you nervous at embarking on Who with Sue?

NP: On the actual blog? Not really, cause I didn’t think it would take off, I didn’t think for a minute it’d become as popular as it became so I didn’t really feel any pressure when I started it, I just wanted it to be a bit of a lark, it was a blog that hadn’t been done before that I was looking for really, just something to keep me occupied with my online stuff. And, I’d sort of run out of things to say about Doctor Who. So, no, I didn’t feel worried at the beginning, the pressure came later (laughs).

MR: How’s your nose doing? You took a lot of cushions to the face over that time, didn’t you?

NP: Yeah I’m still getting the odd one now for Blake’s 7, but yeah, nothing too violent (laughs)

MR: I first caught on to the blog probably about…Planet of the Daleks, then went back and started from the very beginning, then by the time I’d reached that point, you’d finished watching it all! I’ve tried watching old Who with my own girlfriend a few times, and we’ve not been together anywhere near as long as you and Sue, but we kind of had the opposite result to you. I was thinking she’d like the more recent stuff, but she’s not really having the modern series, she’s not averse to selected cuts of Pertwee and Tom Baker every now and again though.

NP: She doesn’t watch the new series then?

MR: No, she doesn’t like it, she watched The Day Of The Doctor with me, but that was an exception. It’s just not really her thing. It is much more female-friendly these days, and I suppose a lot of young women might watch Doctor Who just because they fancied Tennant or Matt Smith…

NP: Yeah, yeah, that’s why Sue watched it, I think (laughs) I think, if it hadn’t been for the new series, there’s no way that I would have done this thing, as I think the fact that Sue liked the new series made me feel like she might have been open to the old series. It was much easier for her to go into the classic series having had a grounding in the new series, if you know what I mean.

MR: Yeah, it gave you a way in.

NP: Yeah, she was vaguely a little bit more interested than she would have been. If it hadn’t have come back….if I’d have asked her to do this in 2002…..you know…….I just can’t see it happening!

MR: I’ve often thought of Doctor Who as being the other woman.

NP: Yeah, that was it, that was the thing, I was getting bored of sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to watch Tom Baker. You know, as you do. So, you know, I think we’ve all been there, we’ve all tried it. When I first moved in with her I tried to get her into it, I tried to gently get her into Doctor Who, but it didn’t take, but most people have that problem I think.

MR: Yeah, I’ve yet to try anything black and white on my girlfriend….I don’t feel ready for that yet..

NP: Oh, well, you can’t go straight in with a black and white, the only one you could probably do it with would be just the first episode. You could probably just about get away with it but I wouldn’t recommend it! Start with a classic in the colour era…Genesis of the Daleks….

MR: Yeah I started her off with Pyramids of Mars. That went down quite well.

NP: Yeah that’s probably safer actually because it’s four parts.

MR: Yeah, four parts and colour, anything that’s more than four parts and NOT colour…..

NP: Did you try them all in one go?

MR: At first I tried splitting it up, but then she was like, let’s watch the next one. So I was like, a girl is willing to watch old Doctor Who with me, ok, let’s see how this goes until we hit a bump in the road….

NP: I know exactly what you mean, I think we’ve all been there.

MR: So, the book, did it come easily for you, having done the blog?

NP: (laughs) No…. I think I was on Peter Davison when I finally signed the contract, which meant I had to write the book and the blog at the same time, which was pretty difficult, as for obvious reasons they (Faber and Faber) wanted the book in the anniversary year. Even though the whole marketplace was gonna be swamped with Doctor Who books, it seemed like a good idea, but, no….it was really difficult, because I’d never written anything like this before, most of the stuff I’d written had either been academic, cause I used to teach at University, and academic writing is completely different from what I had to do in this book. Also, I was trying to find that balance between not just taking the blog and sticking it in a book, but something a bit different, so…..no it was really hard (laughs).

MR: Well, if it’s any consolation, it doesn’t come across as hard, it’s a really good, easy read…

NP: Well good. That was the hard part, making it look effortless! That is the hard bit.

MR: There’s very much a beginning, middle, and end to it.

NP: Yeah. Always, the problem was trying to get the balance right between those who knew a lot about Doctor Who, and those who didn’t know as much about Doctor Who, and trying to make it as accessible as possible, and also as accessible if you hadn’t read the entire blog….to give you a flavour of the blog, because the blog was half a million words….you’re talking about six or seven books….Also, the weird thing about it was writing about myself, you know, rather than about Sue, so that was a bit weird.

MR: Reading the book, I saw a lot of parallels, I’m a little younger, but…some of my earliest memories of Who are a regeneration as well, you know, Tom into Peter. I’d also had a girlfriend who had a daughter from a previous relationship before….I’d attempted to sneak on The Curse of Peladon as well….normal behaviour isn’t it? (laughs)

NP: That makes me feel like I’m not completely crazy now.

MR: You Are Not Alone (laughs). Are you planning on doing any more books of any sort?

NP: Well, the plan is, we are going to put the blog in a series of books, but I’m just going to self publish those, and that’s just for people who want them. Once that’s finished, I’ve always toyed with the idea of a novel set in a University, so that’s sort of my dream project, do a campus novel, drawing on my experiences, which I’ve only barely touched on in the book for lots of different reasons! (laughs) So yeah, that was a weird thing about writing the book as well, you know, worrying about writing about people that you know, existed… I think I find it much easier to write stuff that’s more fictional rather than based on my life.

MR: Yeah, some people find it easier to go from that sort of personal standpoint, or just a thinly veiled version. I’ve just finished reading Gareth Roberts’ version of Shada, and couldn’t really shake the feeling that Douglas Adams wrote the Chris Parsons character in as himself, especially with the Cambridge setting.

NP: Yeah, a lot of writers do that. They call it the Mary-Sue thing, don’t they, where they insert themselves into the narrative. Yeah, if I did a campus novel, it would be a thinly disguised work of fiction (laughs). I’d probably have to do it under an assumed name! Obviously, I left my job a couple of years ago, it was just coincidental, I didn’t leave the job to write a book or anything like that. It just happened to fall at the right time. If I could make a career out of writing, that’s what, hopefully, I’d love to be able to do.

MR: You and Sue live-blogged The Day Of The Doctor for The Guardian. How was that?

NP: That was the most terrifying day of my life. It was absolutely terrifying, cause, what they told us afterwards was that it was very unusual for The Guardian to do stuff, especially drama live. What they usually do is they get it a few days in advance so you can watch it, make notes, and comment on it as it goes. And, The Day Of The Doctor was one of those ones where there was no release at all of any kind to the public, so we had to just go off what was happening on screen. And when we turned up…..it was just like you imagine the Guardian office to be, this huge expanse of computers. And the TV they wanted us to watch it on, was on the other side of the room…so it was like, half a mile away.

So, I had to keep putting my glasses on to look at the TV, and then take my glasses off to type on the screen, which was then being moderated by somebody else sitting behind me, to make sure I wasn’t writing anything libellous, probably. So, I was trying to watch TV, listen to Sue, type up what Sue was saying, have it moderated by somebody else behind me, and the person behind me was then asking me like “What do you think of this?”… I couldn’t follow what was going on! (laughs)

Quite clearly, it was impossible! I think a lot of people struggled with it if they were focused on it normally. I was trying desperately, and desperately trying to keep the thing interesting, so it was terrifying, the whole thing. I think we got away with it though.

MR: I hope they took you for dinner afterwards!

NP: Oh it was terrible, we went back to the hotel and tried to watch it on iPlayer, and concentrate on it, and I think we fell asleep. But yeah, it was a great episode.

MR: Yeah, I really enjoyed it, I went to the pictures, I was quite lucky to get a ticket in Bournemouth.

NP: Well, that was our original plan, we were gonna see it in 3D at the cinema as well, but we had to give our tickets away in the end. I bet it looked great in 3D as well…

MR: Yeah, yeah, it did. They should have done another run a week later, for people who couldn’t make that day…

NP: They should have done it for the whole week, I think. I don’t know why they didn’t do that, I’d have seen it the next day if I could have, but, I couldn’t.

MR: It was a great experience at the pictures, completely rammed out, there was people dressed as Clara in the red dress, and there were assorted Ponds walking about….

NP: It’s just bizarre isn’t it, to think, when I was growing up, if someone had told me that in 2013 people would go to the cinema and see this big thing simultaneously, not just in England but around the world. You wouldn’t have even believed that if they’d have said it in 2005, 2006…..That was a weird month for us cause the book came out that month, so me and Sue were sort of jumping on the back of all the coverage, because obviously these local radio stations were desperately trying to fill time about Doctor Who, so we did a lot of radio. So, that whole month was just madness, absolutely insane.

MR: I went with a good friend who’s another lifelong fan. We had about three pints before we went in, then disappeared to the pub afterwards, and ended up banging on feverishly about Capaldi’s eyes…

NP: Capaldi’s eyes, god yeah. Fantastic, yeah, cool. It seems like so long ago now. Capaldi will be back on TV before we know it.

MR: Yeah, August. Are you looking forward to him? How do you think he’s gonna be?

NP: I think he’ll be great, I think he’ll be fantastic. He’s a great actor. I just don’t know how he’s going to play it. I’m hearing rumours he’s going to do it quite dark…I don’t know if that’s true or not. It’s really difficult to know until you see him out and doing it.

MR: Yeah. I wasn’t sure about Matt at first when he was cast….I thought, oh…too young…

NP: Exactly! I mean, Matt Smith’s young enough to be my son (laughs) It’s just like….what…the….hell…. so yeah, I was praying for Capaldi.

I remember that day very vividly, when they announced him, I remember thinking, god, you know…. I think all the money switched at the last minute to the other guy….I remember thinking, ah, what a shame, but, thankfully, it was Peter Capaldi. It was a different reaction to the Confidential when they did Matt Smith, and most of us were just going….

NP and MR: …Who…? (laughter)

NP: I remember the name Matt Smith suddenly appeared in the betting at the last minute, and I just didn’t know who the hell this person was. I remember being quite confused….So yeah, I think Peter Capaldi will be really good, I don’t know how many seasons he’s doing, I think he’s only signed up for one, we’ll see.

MR: Yeah I’d hope he’d sign up for more, but, you never know really.

NP: They’re going back to the old…I think they’ve got two companions I believe. They’re both teachers, one of them’s another teacher at Coal Hill School, so really you’re gonna go back to the original where you’ve got the two teachers, and I think there’s another character, another companion, so maybe he’s harking back to the first season again.

MR: I’m really interested to see how he comes out. To me, the Doctor is that Terrance Dicks “Never cruel or cowardly” character at heart, which is why I don’t really get on with Colin Baker’s Doctor…

NP: Yeah, you say that, but there is a fair few times when the Doctor is quite cruel and cowardly, to be fair (laughs) Pertwee shot loads of Ogrons….couldn’t stop killing them!

MR: Tennant could be a bit of a genocidal maniac…

NP: Yeah, Sylvester McCoy blew up the odd planet…

MR: I’ve been really enjoying Wife and Blake…

NP: Good!

MR: I was looking forward to seeing what Sue made of The Harvest of Kairos…cause that is so immensely dodgy and sexist…

(For those unfamiliar, you really have to see it. Or, just read this.)

NP: Yeah, the thing is, she upset the Blake’s 7 fans so much that the official Blake’s 7 fan club organised a protest rewatch of The Harvest of Kairos.

MR: You have to do that?

NP: (laughs) Yeah, they had to rewatch it, together, to protest at Sue’s 0/10, which I thought was quite generous…actually, I don’t mind it so much, at least it’s entertaining, as it’s so ridiculous. It’s not one of those boring ones, as quite a few episodes of Blake’s 7 are quite dull. You can’t accuse Harvest of Kairos of being dull.

MR: It’s insane.

NP: (laughs) It IS insane. But then we had Vila get a 9/10 for City at the Edge of the World, so that made up for that I think.

MR: Do you think Sue’s finally warming to Terry Nation?

NP: Yeah I don’t think she minds him so much as a Blake’s 7 writer. And, to be fair when Terry turns up to do Blake’s 7, they’re actually quite good episodes. Ridiculous, but entertaining. But yeah, I think she appreciates Terry a lot more than when she was watching Doctor Who, that’s for sure. I think it’s more his kind of programme, he invented it so he’s got a vested interest in it. But the whole thing of who wrote what…..it’s always the same with Terry Nation. Anything good….people automatically assume someone else wrote it for him, anything bad…..oh yeah, that’s Terry…..He has the same problem with Chris Boucher. We watched Rumours of Death yesterday, so that’s where we’re up to, so we should be finished soon.

MR: Sarcophagus is up next, that’s a good one.

NP: I haven’t seen that one for ages. That’s what’s been interesting for me, doing this, as I’m not as big a fan of Blake’s 7 as Doctor Who, it’s something I watched when I was growing up and I remember the odd episode, but it didn’t stick around as long, so it wasn’t something that permeated every part of my life. So there’s certain episodes I haven’t seen very much at all and some I probably haven’t seen since they first came out. I’ve watched all the classic ones over and over again, the ones that people always talk about, but there was loads I hadn’t seen, loads…

MR: Yeah, there’s 52 in all.

NP: 52, yeah.

MR: I saw it when I was little. Mum and Dad probably shouldn’t have let me watch it…

NP: How old would you have been when it was on?

MR: It finished when I was five. I watched the last episode of Blake’s 7 when I was five…..

NP: Don’t say anything! Because my wife’s in the kitchen.

MR: I won’t say a thing except they shouldn’t have let me watch it. (Neil laughs)

NP: I remember watching….the first series was 1978, so I would have been eight when it started. And that first episode, that was what surprised me going back again, how grim it is. Child molestation charges…..it’s very bleak… I remember being really excited as a kid when it started, I remember it being a big deal. And certain images definitely stuck in my mind.

MR: I probably saw about the last series and a half as a kid. Then I got into it in the long teenage gap of “No Doctor Who” and watched a lot on VHS, just filling a bit of a void really.

NP: Yeah I never bought the VHS’s. A lot of my friends did but I never felt the compulsion.

MR: I think it was something else to fill up a void, I wasn’t so much a Star Trek guy really.

NP: I watched a bit of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the 90s (chuckles), I wrote a letter to DWB where I complained about Doctor Who and said I was gonna watch Star Trek from now on….it was very embarrassing….That is a terrible moment…I look back on that with shame…..but yeah, Blake’s 7, it’s a weird programme. One minute it’s really bleak, the next minute it’s like a pantomime, literally…like a pantomime, and you just don’t know what you’re going to get from one week to the next.

And I think that’s the reason we did it, the reason I decided to risk it as, at least with Doctor Who it’s continually different every week, a different story, and I think Blake’s 7 has that same kind of “What the hell’s happening this week?” kind of vibe to it, so we’ve just about got away with it.

MR: Definitely. I’m quite a fan of the third series, actually, I think it’s the most insane of the lot.

NP: It seems to be scoring the highest marks so far compared to the other ones, I know we’ve got a few to go, I think Sue’s definitely finding it better. It’s funny it’s since Blake’s left! (laughs)

MR: She was bang on about the find-and-replace thing with Tarrant and Blake in Kairos.

NP: Well, yeah, it’s just all in the hair, isn’t it? Look at the silhouette of them, exactly the same.

MR: I remember watching that one on VHS at about seventeen and thinking…..hang on….why do they care about Tarrant all of a sudden?

NP: Yeah he’s suddenly the big leader, the big threat, that no-one’s ever heard of before….It’s weird, again, when you watch them in order like this you sort of pick up on those weird kind of things.

And I suppose what I’m also noticing is the impact it had on Babylon 5, I’m a big Babylon 5 fan, and there’s so many references and influences you can see sprinkled throughout it, you know, like a telepath…the guy who wrote it, bar one episode which Neil Gaiman wrote…he was obviously brought up on Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, The Prisoner, and the references are all over it. It was fantastic in the 90s, it’d be interesting to see how it holds up today….

MR: Probably holds up better than Doomwatch……I gave that a go as well.

NP: Yeah I couldn’t get on with Doomwatch. You see, I used to teach Science-Fiction at University, and I used to teach not only Doctor Who, I used to teach Doomwatch. I used to show them the one with the rat. And they just used to fall about laughing. They just couldn’t take it seriously. To me it was terrifying!

MR: The bit at the end is gruesome.

NP: Yeah, isn’t it?

MR: Absolutely horrible.

NP: 70’s TV was very bleak. I love the original Survivors, especially the first two series. It went a bit boring in the third series.

MR: I do like a good Terry Nation apocalypse.

NP: I hope they remake Blake’s 7, that’s what they should do, they keep saying they’re going to remake it. I don’t know who owns the rights, B7 Enterprises or something, I’m not sure. It seems silly not to do it really, what with Doctor Who being as successful as it is. And there’s no Torchwood anymore, so why not. Gareth Roberts loves Blake’s 7, just give it to him!

MR: I think he’d make a very good showrunner for that.

NP: Exactly, why not give it to Gareth Roberts, you heard it here first.

MR: Are you listening Gareth? Well, hopefully once I’ve typed this up….

NP: He said recently on a tweet he was a bigger fan of Blake’s 7 than Doctor Who, and we all know how big a fan of Doctor Who he is, so there you go. If they can remake The Tomorrow People and make a right balls of it……..We did a kickstarter thing, and one of the extras for people who backed the kickstarter is to watch an episode of The Tomorrow People, so I thought I’ll get her into the new one. And she enjoyed it, obviously, as it’s just loads of young men running round with their tops off. Whereas the original is just loads of young men running round with anoraks on…..you’re too young to remember The Tomorrow People, I expect.

MR: Yeah it finished when I was quite small. I never saw it. My memories of Doctor Who start very early though, from three years old, 1979, Destiny of the Daleks, and then I was immediately into it.

NP: Did you ever go to Blackpool or anything like that?

MR: I went to Madame Tussaud’s when I was about four, and went to Longleat when I was six….

NP: You went to Longleat?! In ’83? Wow. I’m jealous, obviously! Was it as chaotic as people have said?

(I’ve just realised that Neil is now interviewing me. This is what happens when Doctor Who fans talk for more than 30 minutes at a time)

MR: It’s funny, I don’t remember it being chaos, but I suppose, when you’re a small kid, everything’s chaos and you just go with it, I remember queues but not being in them for hours. I’ve got some great photos, I’ll send some on to you.

NP: Yeah, do that.

MR: it’s been a pleasure Neil, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

NP: Cheers mate, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Adventures With The Wife In Space is published by Faber and Faber, and is available in bookshops and on Amazon. Follow Neil and Sue’s adventures with Blake here.

Doctor Who Almost Cancelled When Tennant Left?

There’s an article on the Metro website where Steven Moffat dropped a bombshell! At the Hay Literary Festival, he claimed the BBC thought Doctor Who ‘wouldn’t succeed at all’ without David Tennant. According to Moffat, it was Russell T. Davies who once again came to the shows rescue! ‘I think there were plans maybe to consider ending it. It was Russell T. Davies saying, “you are not allowed to end it”‘. So RTD not only brought the show back from the Wilderness, but may have also staved off cancellation. I find it unlikely that they seriously considered axing the show for a second time, but you never know…