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Interview: Una McCormack

UnaMcCormackUna McCormack is a writer who, in the picture to my left, is holding up a Star Trek book she wrote.

Star. Trek.

I’ll pause a moment to let your anger subside.

OKAY.

She’s a super talented lady who has written Who prose, as well as audio Who (and other things) for Big Finish. She was nice enough to answer a few questions, so the least you could do is read her answers, right? GOOD.

When did Doctor Who first sit astride your chest like a time-consuming succubus?

When I was very small I ate three Weetabix cardboard figures. I think that must have done the trick. I also used to devour Terrance Dicks novels. Sometimes for a light snack I would nibble on the extremely accurate Jean-Marc Lofficier programme guide.

My first memory of watching Doctor Who involves Peter Davison and a corridor, which really narrows things down. Do you have a first Who-memory?

My first Who-memory is being afraid of the chanting in ‘Planet of Spiders’. My father had to say ‘-lette!’ every time someone said ‘Om.’ ‘Om…’ ‘-lette!’ I am still more afraid of Buddhists than I am of spiders.

How did you come to write for Big Finish?

Gary Russell asked me to write for the Gallifrey series. Gary Russell has asked me to write for him many times over the years. Let us sing his praises and be thankful to him.

CHALLENGE TIME: Mel screaming at you at point blank range for 37 minutes, or explaining the ins and outs of Ghost Light to a four year old until they fully grasp it: MAKE YOUR CHOICE!

I will choose having to explain the ins and outs of Ghost Light to a four-year-old until they fully grasp it, since this is going to happen when my little girl reaches four, and I can direct her to her father.

Doctor Who fans hate a lot of things with a fiery passion about the show they love; what’s a generally derided element (story, Doctor, monster, outfit, WHATEVS) that you actually think is ace, skill and super nifty?

The Kandyman. Stop looking at me funny.

As well as Doctor Who you’ve written in the worlds of Star Trek and Blake’s Seven, are there any shows left that you’d like to tackle?

Which ones are paying?

Do you have a favourite modern series episode, and why?

‘Gridlock’ because it so brilliantly illustrates Foucauldian ideas of the self-disciplining subject. Also bringing back the Macra was funny.

As a child stuck way up north in Carlisle, where science fiction was routinely chased out of Cumbria by torch wielding farmers, I indulged my Who-love more or less isolated from wider fandom; how involved in sci-fi fandom were you growing up?

I was the only girl at my convent school interested in science fiction. It was a lonely time. I discovered Blake’s 7 fandom when I was seventeen, courtesy of Paul Darrow’s novel, A Terrible Aspect, which I bought by mail order from the Sheffield Space Centre. And with one bound I was free.

It’s not all about the TV episodes, what’s your favourite bit of non-television Who ‘stuff’?

Our full-size Dalek.

Female writers in Doctor Who, be it for the TV show, novels or audio, are still is pretty rare occurrence; do you think that the perception of it being a bit of a boys’ club puts any women off attempting it? And do you have any advice for women who’d like to give it a go?

I think the perception of it being a boys’ club does put women off trying, but I would suggest that they ask anyway. But the desire to resolve institutional disparities w.r.t. class, gender, and race etc. has to come from within institutions and must involve concerted effort on the part of decision-makers within them. Individual freelancers can’t solve these wider problems simply by knocking on the door and asking to be let in. They don’t have that power.

That answer isn’t funny, but it’s what I think.

Neil Gaiman would have been a writer on many Who fans’ fantasy wish list; is there anyone (apart from me) (and you) you’d be interested to see tackle an episode?

Ursula Le Guin. Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ll put in a plug for ‘me’ anyway. And they should give some of the Big Finish boys a go: Jonny Morris, Simon Guerrier, James Goss.

Do you have a piece of Doctor Who related work that you’ve been involved in that you’re most proud of?

I’m very pleased with how The Way through the Woods came out. To be honest, I do a little Snoopy dance every time I get commissioned to do something Doctor Who related, so it’s hard to pick one.

Do you have a favourite Doctor Who writer? (TV, audio, books, whatever!)

I think James Goss is so brilliant that one day I’m going to re-enact the plot of Misery with him.

Aged about 11 I wrote an original (complete Marooned rip off) Red Dwarf story for English class, can you remember the first time you attempted to write a story for one of your favourite shows? 

I drew a series of Blake’s 7 stick man cartoons when I was eight years old. They’re about as good as you’d imagine they’d be.

Do you have a favourite classic series story, and why?

‘The Caves of Androzani’. It’s flawless, innit? What Magma creature? Sorry, can’t hear you.

Who’s your Doctor and companion? You can choose more than one, if you’re weak.

I’m weak, but will choose only one anyway. The fifth Doctor and Tegan, because I would be as cross and unimpressed with the universe as Tegan is.

Team Master or Team Rani?

Team Count Grendel.

Congratulations, you’ve just been put in charge of Doctor Who and can make whatever changes you want to it; so what’s your big move? Strand the Doctor on Earth again? Cast a Woman in the title role? Bring back K9, but also add his nephew, Scrappy-K9? Or something else..?

All that plus bring back the Dominic Glynn theme music from season 23. I’d go down in history as Hiatus McCormack.

Promote something you capitalist pig!

Please buy my lovely new Star Trek book, The Missing! It has Doctor Pulaski in it, fighting crime.

THANKS UNA!

@DoctorWhoThing

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Interview: Jenny Colgan

J ColganJenny Colgan is a mysterious international mystery woman of mystery who has gone by many names: Is she actually Jenny Colgan? Or perhaps Jenny T. Colgan? Or even J.T. Colgan ? Who is the real Jenny? Why does she lurk behind so many different names? Just what is it she’s hiding from?  I’m not saying she’s left anyone inside an old sack at the bottom of a lake and is now attempting to evade the law as she leaps from identity to very similar identity, that’s for others to decide. I asked Jenny ‘The Sack in the Lake Murder’ Colgan some questions about Doctor Who.

Okay, serious questions first; Mel, Adric and failed companion Adam are hanging by their fingernails from a cliff edge- who do you help up, and whose fingers do you quietly tread on whilst no one’s looking..?

Adam. Seriously, you’re on the biggest, best, brand new show on earth. With the chance to be a new fricking companion. And you blow it SO SPECTACULARLY you can practically see them writing you out live on air. Unbelievable. Mel was too fleeting to feel more than a plot device, and I didn’t really mind Adric. As an annoying, whiny kid I always quite liked the fact that the Doctor let an annoying whiny kid travel with him on the TARDIS. Same reason I liked Donna.Donna

When did Doctor Who first barge its way into your Mind Palace and then point blank refuse to leave?

There’s loads of fans exactly the same age as me (including David Tennant), because we were all 8 when City of Death came out. That’s the first one I remember being utterly gripped and engrossed by, and that whole series is good. When I knew it was the best thing ever was Warrior’s Gate; it felt like living a dream in real life. I liked it as much as Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is to say: a lot. Logopolis broke my heart.

Dark HNot only are you best known as a writer of romantic comedy novels, but you’re also an actual real life woman, still something of a rarity when it comes to Who writers! How did you come to write your first Doctor Who novel, ‘Dark Horizons’; was it difficult to get your chance?

No, I just bugged them a lot and still do. I pitched constantly, and they would say, well, you know, Romantic Comedy novelist, we can’t have any snogging or sex or romance in it and I’d say noooo, none of that. So I wrote a Matt Smith novel without any of that stuff, whereupon on the actual show he proceeded to do basically nothing else but snog people for the next three years, occasionally pausing to get married or take off all his clothes.

CHALLENGE TIME: Victoria screaming at you at point blank range for 37 minutes, or explaining the ins and outs of Ghost Light to a four year old until they fully grasp it: MAKE YOUR CHOICE!

Me and the 8 year old watched Ghost Light recently. But I did tell him before we sat down: don’t ask me any questions, okay? I rather like Sylvester McCoy, I don’t think he’s the Doc who did for it. So, Ghost Light please. It’s evocative.

MarthaDoctor Who fans hate a lot of things with a fiery passion about the show they love; what’s a generally derided element (story, Doctor, monster, outfit, WHATEVS) that you actually think is ace, skill and super nifty?

I don’t think Martha gets enough love. There was too little Martha and too many other annoying Joneses in that arc. I did pitch (unsuccessfully) a Martha/ Mickey divorce novel. They’re dealing with a hasty, ridiculous marriage where they both actually really wanted other people. Then she has to do dangerous UNIT medical stuff with a new Doctor and deal with all of that too, can you imagine, when the person you love changes so completely? Well, it was very interesting to *me*. Mind you I also pitched the Doctor-Donna/ Rose post- show human life-adjustment sitcom, so don’t listen to anything I have to say.

RTD MOFFDo you have a favourite Who era, or do you love it all as though it was the very flesh given life from your sex junk?

I think it’s almost a point of pride that you can’t like all Who; if you do, then the show is going awry, because it should always be different and always explore. Anyone that liked every single Doctor Who would make me very suspicious.

IMO Russell & Steven working together on modern Who simply made some of the best television there has ever been; the Douglas Adams and the Key to Time eras in classic Who meant a lot to me.

You’ve now written twice for Matt Smith’s Doctor, would you like to have a go at Sweary McMurder-Eyes himself, Mr P-Cap?

I couldn’t possibly comment *winkswinkswinks*

Silence inDo you have a favourite modern series episode, and why?

Silence in the Library/ Forests of the Dead. I just never tire of watching it. It’s before River got annoying, and it’s just exquisite; always surprising; full of ideas; wonderful sets and characters; clever; scary; tender without being mawkish, and it puts you right through the wringer. And such gorgeous writing, from the big stuff:

“Not one line. Don’t you dare! It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s not over for you. You’ll see me again. You’ve got all of that to come. You and me. Time and space. You watch us run!

To the small:

“It’s a screwdriver. It works in the dark.”

If it’s on, I’ll always watch the whole thing again, like Terminator: it just goes from good bit to good bit.

As a child stuck way up north in Carlisle, where science fiction was routinely chased out of Cumbria by torch wielding farmers, I indulged my Who-love more or less isolated from wider fandom; how involved in sci-fi fandom were you growing up?

Oh I felt terribly isolated (I grew up in Ayrshire, so we’re not far apart). Being a girl then made it even worse. It’s cool for girls now but back then I was convinced I was the only one on earth. Even as I got older it was my ‘comedy quirk’, rather than a totally acceptable thing to really love the show.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s not all about the TV episodes, what’s your favourite bit of non-television Who ‘stuff’?

I like my tattoo. Otherwise, and I apologise to BBC Worldwide, who send me lots of lovely things, I splashed out on one of those very expensive handmade River Song journals and all my story notes, pitches, sketches and plans go in that and I would not like to lose it.

Since the return of Web and Enemy, the rumours have continued to swirl about what else might be out there; if you could pick one missing (or partially missing) story to have returned, what would it be?

I will be completely honest: I’m not that interested in stories before my Doctor (4) , I’m just not a completist like that.

Sally WainwrightNeil Gaiman would have been a writer on many Who fans fantasy wish list; is there anyone (apart from me) (and you) you’d be interested to see tackle an episode?

Sally Wainwright, obviously. She seems a natural Russell style writer. Jane Espenson- they MUST have asked her, surely. Joss. Aaron. And actually I’d like another Richard Curtis, I thought his was utterly charming.

Is there anything from Classic Who that the modern series has yet to bring back that you’d like to see it tackle..?

The Mara.

Do you have a favourite Doctor Who writer? (TV, audio, books, whatever!)

Paul & Gareth.

The Kandyman can or The Kandyman really, really can’t and, what’s more, definitely shouldn’t?

I am nearly half way through my lifetime, if I am really lucky. I have never seen it and I suspect I never will: I’m running out of time.

mary-tammWho’s your Doctor and companion? You can choose more than one, if you’re weak.

I loved scary first Romana. Now THERE was an equal. Although if we’re going the opposite way, I really crushed on Nyssa too, even though she fainted any time something scary turned up, or would wander off on holiday for a month or so. But you can’t deny the 10/ Rose chemistry. It’s like they didn’t want it to happen, but they couldn’t help themselves. Lovely stuff. I thought 11 and Amy had great chemistry too, before Rory came along and ruined it by lying lifeless on the floor 300 times.

Do you think you’d like to tackle a scripted piece of Who; say a Big Finish audio for example?

I’d love to, they haven’t asked me yet, but I’d absolutely adore that. I’d love to do a 5, all hands, Tegan, Nyssa; Adric taking a kicking. Four people in the TARDIS is such a tricky dynamic that I’d love to have a shot at it.

Team Master or Team Rani?

Old Master > Rani > new Master

McGann startLet’s assume magic is real and not only can you now fly and turn some wine into even more wine, but you can pick any two Doctor’s, living or dead, to team up for a new episode; who’s it gonna’be, hm?

Like everyone else, Paul coming back gave me the most humongous thrill, as well as making me sad at how good he could have been. Plus I liked the last season DT when he was really really bad, like in Waters of Mars. So DT being bad, and Paul egging him on, for some proper mischief. I just want to see more Paul McGann Who now really, that wasn’t nearly enough.

Doc DIs there an era of Who that, whilst watching it, makes you want to push your finger into your brain to make all the bad feels go away?

I know this will sound terribly daring and pushing the envelope but I truly wasn’t a one for ye olde Baker C. I know, controversial, hey? I don’t even like my non-Who friends seeing pictures of him. And I didn’t much like Jon Pertwee being stuck on earth. Where are we this week? OH EARTH VERY GOOD. My eldest likes him though. He has a cool car and he does kung fu.Also I know it all had a lovely happy ending in real life and all the rest of it, but the Doctor’s Daughter I find really embarrassing.

Congratulations, you’ve just been put in charge of Doctor Who and can make whatever changes you want to it; so what’s your big move? Strand the Doctor on Earth again? Cast a Woman in the title role? Bring back K9, but also add his nephew, Scrappy-K9? Or something else..?

Traitor companion. Constant jeopardy and side-switching, Homeland style. Turlough the whole thing up a bit, I’m slightly over people who think he’s awesome.

Doctor-Who-Into-the-Nowhere-300Promote something you capitalist pig!

OOH do buy Into the Nowhere please. It is a full-on, rollicking Matt and Clara story, with my take on Clara. www.tinyurl.com/intothenowhere

Thanks Jenny!

@DoctorWhoThing

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Interview: George Mann

g mannNEW INTERVIEW TIME YOU FILTHY DOGS!

George Mann is a writer who has penned Doctor Who novels, audio adventures, and short stories. His latest Who novel, ‘Engines of War’, is especially noteworthy as it focuses on the War Doctor. I drop-kicked a pile of sexy questions his way. Please read both the questions AND the answers, otherwise this has all been a real waste of time. Thanks. Thank you. Here’s George Mann. Answering questions about Doctor Who. Right here:

When did Doctor Who first stumble groaning out of the dark and sink its remaining broken, rotten teeth into your tender neck meat?

As it was for many of us, Doctor Who was a huge part of my childhood. I remember watching Peter Davison at an early age, and pretty much being hooked from that point onward. I started reading Target novels, borrowed from the library. I collected VHS tapes. I avidly watched reruns of Tom a Baker stories on UK Gold at the weekend, when I was supposed to be doing other things. It’s been a part if my psyche ever since.

DavisonDoctor Who fans hate a lot of things with a fiery passion about the show they love; what’s a generally derided element (story, Doctor, monster, outfit, WHATEVS) that you actually think is ace, skill and super nifty?

Oh, there’s very little about the show that I don’t take some enjoyment out of, so most of the things others deride I still find some value in! I know we look back now and laugh at the wobbly sets and bubble wrap monsters, but there’s something special about all of that, I think, that speaks to the imagination, that allows you to fill in the gaps.

If I had to pick one thing it would probably be Sam Jones from the novels. She seems to be universally derided, but I like her! That’s why I dropped that little reference to her in Engines of War.

It’s not all about the TV episodes, what’s your favourite bit of non-television Who ‘stuff’?

I think it would have to be the novels. I’ve by no means had a comprehensive schooling, but I am a completist and I’ve pretty much collected them all now. I’m working my way through the Eighth Doctor stories at the moment, and enjoying them immensely.

The_War_Doctor_Your latest Who novel, ‘Engines of War’ is a War Doctor story; now there’s not a whole lot of War Doctor stuff out there, was it difficult for you to find his voice or was what we saw in ‘The Day of The Doctor’ more than enough for you?

It was harder than capturing Matt’s voice and mannerisms in the Eleventh Doctor stories I’ve done, just by virtue of the amount of screen time each has had, and therefore the amount of material there is to observe and absorb. That said, Hurt gives such a strong performance that there are things to get your teeth into straight away as a writer.

The bigger challenge, really was working out his story arc. How does this Doctor end up in the place that he thinks genocide is the best and only solution?

Zygon_(Doctor_Who_monster)Is there anything from Classic Who that the modern series has yet to bring back that you’d like to see it tackle..?

I’m a big believer in looking forward, and enduringly we get lots of fresh new stuff, rather than constantly retreading old ground. That said, I’d love to see another story with the Fendahl. And give the Zygons a proper outing of their own, too! They deserve it!

You are set the task of turning a newb to the Who-side, which story are you gunna plop them in front of first??

The Talons of Weng Chiang. Or Rose.

Team Dalek, Team Cybermen, or Team Kandyman..?

If I had to choose, Team Dalek!

What are your favourite Who stories? (TV, Novel, Audio, whatever!)

The aforementioned Talons of Weng Chiang. Along with The Daemons, The Pyramids of Mars, The Seeds of Death, The Scarlet Empress, The Eye of the Tyger, Vampire Science, The Iron Legion, The Doctor’s Wife, The Chimes of Midnight… The list goes on!

Third DoctorYou’ve written for a few different Doctor’s now, is there one you’ve yet to tackle that you’d like to have a go at?

There are two that I’d LOVE to write for – the Eighth Doctor and the Third Doctor. Two of my favourite Doctors, and it feels somewhat incomplete that I haven’t written for them yet. Hopefully one day!

A missing story of your choice can be returned, but ONLY if you ditch one that we already have. SO, what do you want back, and what will you toss into a black hole in return? MAKE YOUR CHOICE:

I’d have Evil of the Daleks in exchange for Time Flight.

Which piece of Who that you’ve penned are you proudest of?

I think it has to be Engines of War, to be honest. Although I’m very fond of a Short Trip I wrote for Big Finish a few years ago, called ‘Rise and Fall’. The incomparable William Russell read it for audio, and it has to be one of my favourite things I’ve done.

Who’s your Doctor and companion? You can choose more than one, if you’re weak.

It’s probably cheating to say the War Doctor and Cinder, isn’t it? Otherwise, Third Doctor and Jo are always great.

doctor-who-engines-of-war-hq-300x465In ‘Engines of War’ you were able to create a companion for the War Doctor, Cinder; was your version of a companion already lurking in your brain meat, or was it more of a challenge?

She wasn’t fully formed, no. I think every Doctor needs a different companion at different points in their story, and with Cinder I tried to give the War Doctor the companion he needed at that particular juncture. She’s a reflection of him, in many ways, and a warning, too – she allows him to see how narrow his focus has become during the war, how far he’s drifted away from himself. It’s Cinder that makes him realise he’s the only one who can bring an end to it all.

Cinder was never a challenge, though. She just came to life when I needed her too. She was a joy to write for.

Do you have a favourite Who era, or do you love it all as though it was the very flesh that was given life from your sex junk?

It changes. Some days it’s the Third Doctor’s UNIT years. Other times it’s the Seventh Doctor, or the Hinchcliffe years, or the middle period RTD years with Donna. I guess that’s what’s fantastic and all-consuming about the show – it changes, just like the Doctor, and there are things to love in almost every permutation of it, depending on your mood.

hitchhikersAged about 11 I wrote an original (complete Marooned rip off) Red Dwarf story for English class, can you remember the first time you attempted to write a story for one of your favourite shows?

I wrote a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy story at around 12, I think. It’s probably that. I was always more interested in making up my own characters, to be honest, although they were always heavily influenced by what I’d read or watched. I don’t think I actually sat down and wrote a Doctor Who story until my first commission from Big Finish, although you can see the influence it’s had on my other work, particularly Newbury & Hobbes.

Let’s assume magic is real and not only can you now fly and turn some wine into even more wine, but you can pick any two Doctor’s, living or dead, to team up for a new episode; who’s it gonna’ be, hm?

I’d like to see the Twelfth and the Eighth appear in a story together. I’d be interested to see how they got along, with such different attitudes.

PLUG SOMETHING, YOU SHAMELESS SWINE:

I’m currently hard at work on more adventures for Newbury & Hobbes, as well as revisiting my 1920s vigilante character, The Ghost, in revised editions of the first two books, along with two new ones. My latest novel, aside from Engines of War, is a Sherlock Holmes novel, ‘The Spirit Box’, set during 1915 in the midst of the Great War.

THANKS, GEORGE!


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Interview: Andrew Smith

Andrew SmithAndrew Smith is better than you, okay? Let’s just get that out of the way right now. This guy has written words that Tom Baker has spoken on screen. In Doctor Who. What THE HELL have you done that could EVEN compare? Yeah, EXACTLY. Compared to Andrew Smith you’re, at best, on a par with that thick mucus I sometimes cough up in the morning (I do not enjoy a healthy diet).

Andrew Smith wrote ‘Full Circle’ for Tom Baker’s final season, and can still be found writing Who-Stuff (and beyond) for Big Finish. Here he is being a gent and flapping his gums about Who:

2 & JamieWhen did Doctor Who first enter your Mind Palace and set up home?

The show started a year and a bit after I was born, but my first memories are of watching Patrick Troughton and Fraser Hines up against the Cybermen, Yeti and Quarks.  So probably around 1967.  The first story I can point at and say ‘I definitely watched that’ was The Web of Fear, as Yeti in the Underground are etched in my memory.  I may have seen earlier Cybermen stories, as Cybermen are prominent in my viewing memories.

akDoctor Who fans hate a lot of things with a fiery passion about the show they love; what’s a generally derided element (story, Doctor, monster, outfit, WHATEVS) that you actually think is ace, skill and super nifty?

I’m wary of any story or story element being labelled as bad as if fandom was some monolithic entity with a single point of view.  Doctor Who is such a mix of styles, tones and story genres that there will always be a spread of sometimes polarised opinions whatever is on screen.  One story where I was very surprised by the amount of immediately negative reaction was The Rings of Akhaten.  I loved it, and went onto Twitter immediately afterwards expecting to read an outpouring of Akhaten love.  But what I read was not that.  I remain surprised by that and will continue to feel a warm happy glow whenever I think of this story.

Full Circle 4Do you remember the initial spark of the idea that became ‘Full Circle’?

What I remember is coming up with the idea of the natural cycle of the planet first, before any of the characters in the story and even before the Marshmen.  It was always about the setting, this lush verdant world that regularly transformed into a life-threatening mist covered environment, from which various monstrous life forms emerged to protect the planet.

What did you make of the finished televised version of your script; was there anything that surprised you about it?

I was really pleased with it.  What a cast; and there was exceptional work by all involved including Peter Grimwade and film cameraman Max Samett.  One thing that surprised me was the appearance of the Marshmen.  In the script I think I described them as ‘half-men half-beasts’, and I imagined them as being similar to cavemen in appearance.  So when I turned up on location and saw several Creatures From the Black Lagoon queueing at the catering van yes, I was surprised!  But it was all to the good.  JNT told me that they were the most expensive costumes on Doctor Who to date, because they were designed around scuba diving suits.

first sontaranWere there ever plans for you to write for the show again?

I was commissioned for the following season, a story called ‘The Torsan Triumvirate’.  I remember very little about it except that it was set in the modern day and involved aliens living as humans bringing together three parts of a device to initiate an invasion.  That story reached the scene breakdown stage but wasn’t produced.  In 1983 Eric Saward asked me to come up with a Sontaran story for Colin and Nicola’s first full season.  That was ‘The First Sontarans’, which also got to scene breakdown stage.  Happily I still have my material for that (unlike The Torsan Triumvirate) so when Big Finish asked me to adapt it for audio I was in a position to do so.   I am so very pleased that The First Sontarans now has an audience – Big Finish did such an excellent job with it, as ever.

Please say something nice about The Kandyman- and mean it!

He’s sweet.

tom bakerYou seem to not only be a Who writer, but also a massive fan of the show, something that wasn’t always the case with classic Who writers. Did it seem surreal at the time to be writing for Tom Baker?

I do remember a particular moment when I was standing on the platform at Argyle Street station in Glasgow during the period I was writing the script, thinking to myself ‘My ten year old self watching Jon Pertwee wouldn’t have thought for a moment that I’d be writing for Dr Who just a few years later’.  And it was a buzz to find myself writing scene directions and dialogue for my favourite television programme.  But more importantly, I was finally writing a TV drama script for production.  I’d written radio comedy sketches and even a couple of TV sketches, but this was a big breakthrough for me as a writer.  I’d been approaching Doctor Who and other dramas with scripts and storylines for about three years at this point.  I went to great pains not to be perceived as a fan (apart from anything itself, being a declared fan at that time was not something you flaunted if you worked on Doctor Who), but as a writer.  And my ambitions were wider than just writing for Doctor Who.  But of course, writing for the Doctor was a particular joy.  And I was very glad I managed to write for Tom Baker, the Doctor I’d grown into maturity with.

You were quite young when you penned ‘Full Circle’, it’s an opportunity that would be impossible with today’s show; do you think this is a healthy thing for the modern show, or just a necessity considering its importance to the BBC these days?

It’s neither healthy nor unhealthy, it’s just a feature of programme making these days.  I was asked to write my script after sending in a number of unsolicited scripts and storylines.  Nowadays unsolicited material is not read, mainly as we are living in a more litigious society and this ensures that no-one can claim that an idea from a rejected story was then used in the programme.

Although the opportunities to submit unsolicited material and catch a producer or script editor’s eye are fewer these days, there are other ways in which it is far easier to get somewhere with your TV writing aspirations.  From writing initiatives like the BBC Writers Room, to the availability of software that helps format a script professionally, and readily available archives of scripts and professional screenwriting advice.  Also, there are many more outlets.  In 1980 we had only three television channels in the UK.

The Daleks' Master Plan 2Are there any missing or partially missing stories you’re hoping will turn up next?

Most of them!  Top of my wish-list to the Missing Stories Santa would be the Dalek Master Plan (if anyone out there hasn’t heard the soundtrack recording, you must put this right immediately – it’s a glorious story), followed closely by Power of the Daleks.

Adric was first introduced in your story and went on to be quite a contentious, and in some quarters derided, companion; did you feel at all protective towards the poor sod and his badge for mathematical excellence?

I had no idea there was any anti-Adric sentiment out there until years afterwards – in fact, when the Earthshock DVD came out.  It came as quite a surprise.  I didn’t feel protective towards him, although I was and am glad to have introduced him.  He was derived from a character description given to me by Chris (Bidmead) at our first script meeting, and I inserted him into my existing story.  I created the badge for mathematical excellence, and I’m glad that had its day in the sun by bringing down a Cyberman at a critical time!

pertwee JoDo you have a favourite era (or eras) of the show, or do you love it all as though it were flesh birthed from your own man-womb?

There are many factors that mark a Doctor Who ‘era’: the Doctors, of course.  Also producers, script editors, companions.   I don’t see them as being in competition with each other for our favours and I do love the programme across the board.  However, I’ll always have a special hankering for the old black and white episodes, and for when Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning were the TARDIS crew.  And, for an example of when you had the perfect storm of cast and production crew, I don’t think you can do better than the Philip Hinchcliffe years.

Not too long after working on Who you seemed to move away from writing as a career. Was this a purposeful decision or a mutual falling out?

I’d been interested in policing from my mid-teens after a police careers talk at my school.  I worked as a professional writer for four and a half years and was happy and productive (in all that time I always had a commission to work on), but the lack of security worried me, and I found it a bit solitary.  I was also aware that, having started at such a young age, I might have been lacking in the life experience that is so important to a writer.  And, I was still drawn by the idea of being a police officer, particularly by the opportunities for excitement and a bit of an adventure.  So I decided to give that a shot, I joined the Metropolitan Police in 1984 and have had thirty exciting, rewarding years doing that.   

doctorwho604Favourite modern Who episode/episodes, and why?

Dalek, Midnight, Human Nature, Blink, Silence in the Library, The Doctor’s Wife… that’s just off the top of my head.  Why?  They make me smile when I think of them.  There are plenty more like that.

What baddie that has yet to be featured in the modern series would you like to see back? No, you can’t go the easy option and say The Quarks, pick something else.

The Krynoids.  Let’s see what today’s costumes and effects could do with transforming an unlucky victim into a great big towering throbbing thrashing mass of green hate.

FDWM mcgannavourite piece of non-telly Dr Who ‘stuff’?

Doctor Who Magazine.  I have absolutely no idea how Tom and Peter and their co-DWMers manage to produce such a consistently fabulous product month after month, but I’m in awe and delighted that they do.  And hurray to their predecessors too.

Re toys/gadgets, my fave is the Cyberman shower radio.

In recent years you have begun writing for the good Doctor again, penning audio adventures for Big Finish. How did this return come about?

Soon after the E-Space Trilogy came out on DVD I was invited to be a guest at a convention in Glasgow called Army of Guests.  Big Finish were there of course, in the form of David Richardson and Nick Briggs.  David talked to me about The First Sontarans and asked if I’d be interested in writing for Big Finish, which of course I was.  And then, a few weeks later, he got in touch to ask if I’d like to write a Companion Chronicle for the second Romana set in E-Space.  That became The Invasion of E-Space, and I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to write a few more since then.

001_domain_of_the_voord_cover_largeDo you have a piece of Doctor Who that you’ve written that you’re most proud of?

I’m proud of them all in their own ways.  I was very pleased with how The First Sontarans turned out.  And I remember feeling particularly happy when I came to the end of my first draft of the script for Domain of the Voord, the first in a new Big Finish range, The Early Adventures, that comes out in September.  That’s a First Doctor story starring William Russell and Carole Ann Ford.

Favourite classic era story/stories?

Robots of Death, and The Talons of Weng-Chiang (that was a good ten weeks).

robert holmesDo you have a favourite Dr Who writer from the first fifty years of the show? You can include Big Finish or Who novel writers!

Among the writers whose names in the Radio Times (because that was all the notice we got back then) always made me want to see their episodes were: Robert Holmes (obvs); Chris Boucher; Robert Banks Stewart; and Chris Bidmead (and that’s not just because he was my script editor – Chris is one of the most original thinkers ever to put pen to Doctor Who).   I couldn’t possibly pick out names from among m’Big Finish colleagues.

Who is YOUR Doctor and companion? You can choose more than one combination if you’re a weak sort!

Second Doctor and Jamie.  Seared into young me’s imagination as THE Doctor and Companion pairing.  I liked their comic strip appearances too.

happy vlleyNeil Gaiman would have been a writer on many Who fans fantasy wish list; is there anyone you’d be interested to see tackle an episode?

Sally Wainwright or Lucy Gannon.  And not because they’re women and the series has had a dearth of female writers – those names were the first to pop into my head, because I’m massive fans of both of them.   Sally’s ‘Happy Valley’ has been the best drama on television this year, or in many a year, and that’s a title that faces stiff competition because drama output is of a very high standard at the moment.  Lucy’s is a name I’ve known since the Soldier, Soldier years.  Both of them consistently deliver in spades and I would salivate to see their names attached to a Doctor Who script.

Go ahead and plug something, you money hungry monster:

I was so very pleased to be asked to contribute to Big Finish’s new ‘Early Adventures’ range,  and as I mentioned earlier I was pleased with my script for ‘Domain of the Voord’.  I recommend the whole series, which has an engaging format to bring us powerful stories featuring the early Doctors.  And if anyone wants to know what it truly means to be Voord, you should check out Domain …

Domain of The Voord

Away from Doctor Who, I and everyone involved has been blown away by the reaction to the first series of Survivors , which came out on audio in June.   I wrote one episode of the four and the whole thing is an assault on the senses.  The sound design by Neil Gardner and the  hugely original ambient music by Nick Briggs polish off a production that has one of the best casts ever assembled by Big Finish.  It may make you cry, it will definitely make you think.  And you don’t need to have seen the TV show.

Survivors: Series One

Thanks Andrew!

@DoctorWhoThing


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Interview: Jenny Colgan

J ColganJenny Colgan is a mysterious international mystery woman of mystery who has gone by many names: Is she actually Jenny Colgan? Or perhaps Jenny T. Colgan? Or even J.T. Colgan ? Who is the real Jenny? Why does she lurk behind so many different names? Just what is it she’s hiding from?  I’m not saying she’s left anyone inside an old sack at the bottom of a lake and is now attempting to evade the law as she leaps from identity to very similar identity, that’s for others to decide. I asked Jenny ‘The Sack in the Lake Murder’ Colgan some questions about Doctor Who.

Okay, serious questions first; Mel, Adric and failed companion Adam are hanging by their fingernails from a cliff edge- who do you help up, and whose fingers do you quietly tread on whilst no one’s looking..?

Adam. Seriously, you’re on the biggest, best, brand new show on earth. With the chance to be a new fricking companion. And you blow it SO SPECTACULARLY you can practically see them writing you out live on air. Unbelievable. Mel was too fleeting to feel more than a plot device, and I didn’t really mind Adric. As an annoying, whiny kid I always quite liked the fact that the Doctor let an annoying whiny kid travel with him on the TARDIS. Same reason I liked Donna.Donna

When did Doctor Who first barge its way into your Mind Palace and then point blank refuse to leave?

There’s loads of fans exactly the same age as me (including David Tennant), because we were all 8 when City of Death came out. That’s the first one I remember being utterly gripped and engrossed by, and that whole series is good. When I knew it was the best thing ever was Warrior’s Gate; it felt like living a dream in real life. I liked it as much as Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is to say: a lot. Logopolis broke my heart.

Dark HNot only are you best known as a writer of romantic comedy novels, but you’re also an actual real life woman, still something of a rarity when it comes to Who writers! How did you come to write your first Doctor Who novel, ‘Dark Horizons’; was it difficult to get your chance?

No, I just bugged them a lot and still do. I pitched constantly, and they would say, well, you know, Romantic Comedy novelist, we can’t have any snogging or sex or romance in it and I’d say noooo, none of that. So I wrote a Matt Smith novel without any of that stuff, whereupon on the actual show he proceeded to do basically nothing else but snog people for the next three years, occasionally pausing to get married or take off all his clothes.

CHALLENGE TIME: Victoria screaming at you at point blank range for 37 minutes, or explaining the ins and outs of Ghost Light to a four year old until they fully grasp it: MAKE YOUR CHOICE!

Me and the 8 year old watched Ghost Light recently. But I did tell him before we sat down: don’t ask me any questions, okay? I rather like Sylvester McCoy, I don’t think he’s the Doc who did for it. So, Ghost Light please. It’s evocative.

MarthaDoctor Who fans hate a lot of things with a fiery passion about the show they love; what’s a generally derided element (story, Doctor, monster, outfit, WHATEVS) that you actually think is ace, skill and super nifty?

I don’t think Martha gets enough love. There was too little Martha and too many other annoying Joneses in that arc. I did pitch (unsuccessfully) a Martha/ Mickey divorce novel. They’re dealing with a hasty, ridiculous marriage where they both actually really wanted other people. Then she has to do dangerous UNIT medical stuff with a new Doctor and deal with all of that too, can you imagine, when the person you love changes so completely? Well, it was very interesting to *me*. Mind you I also pitched the Doctor-Donna/ Rose post- show human life-adjustment sitcom, so don’t listen to anything I have to say.

RTD MOFFDo you have a favourite Who era, or do you love it all as though it was the very flesh given life from your sex junk?

I think it’s almost a point of pride that you can’t like all Who; if you do, then the show is going awry, because it should always be different and always explore. Anyone that liked every single Doctor Who would make me very suspicious.

IMO Russell & Steven working together on modern Who simply made some of the best television there has ever been; the Douglas Adams and the Key to Time eras in classic Who meant a lot to me.

You’ve now written twice for Matt Smith’s Doctor, would you like to have a go at Sweary McMurder-Eyes himself, Mr P-Cap?

I couldn’t possibly comment *winkswinkswinks*

Silence inDo you have a favourite modern series episode, and why?

Silence in the Library/ Forests of the Dead. I just never tire of watching it. It’s before River got annoying, and it’s just exquisite; always surprising; full of ideas; wonderful sets and characters; clever; scary; tender without being mawkish, and it puts you right through the wringer. And such gorgeous writing, from the big stuff:

“Not one line. Don’t you dare! It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s not over for you. You’ll see me again. You’ve got all of that to come. You and me. Time and space. You watch us run!

To the small:

“It’s a screwdriver. It works in the dark.”

If it’s on, I’ll always watch the whole thing again, like Terminator: it just goes from good bit to good bit.

As a child stuck way up north in Carlisle, where science fiction was routinely chased out of Cumbria by torch wielding farmers, I indulged my Who-love more or less isolated from wider fandom; how involved in sci-fi fandom were you growing up?

Oh I felt terribly isolated (I grew up in Ayrshire, so we’re not far apart). Being a girl then made it even worse. It’s cool for girls now but back then I was convinced I was the only one on earth. Even as I got older it was my ‘comedy quirk’, rather than a totally acceptable thing to really love the show.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s not all about the TV episodes, what’s your favourite bit of non-television Who ‘stuff’?

I like my tattoo. Otherwise, and I apologise to BBC Worldwide, who send me lots of lovely things, I splashed out on one of those very expensive handmade River Song journals and all my story notes, pitches, sketches and plans go in that and I would not like to lose it.

Since the return of Web and Enemy, the rumours have continued to swirl about what else might be out there; if you could pick one missing (or partially missing) story to have returned, what would it be?

I will be completely honest: I’m not that interested in stories before my Doctor (4) , I’m just not a completist like that.

Sally WainwrightNeil Gaiman would have been a writer on many Who fans fantasy wish list; is there anyone (apart from me) (and you) you’d be interested to see tackle an episode?

Sally Wainwright, obviously. She seems a natural Russell style writer. Jane Espenson- they MUST have asked her, surely. Joss. Aaron. And actually I’d like another Richard Curtis, I thought his was utterly charming.

Is there anything from Classic Who that the modern series has yet to bring back that you’d like to see it tackle..?

The Mara.

Do you have a favourite Doctor Who writer? (TV, audio, books, whatever!)

Paul & Gareth.

The Kandyman can or The Kandyman really, really can’t and, what’s more, definitely shouldn’t?

I am nearly half way through my lifetime, if I am really lucky. I have never seen it and I suspect I never will: I’m running out of time.

mary-tammWho’s your Doctor and companion? You can choose more than one, if you’re weak.

I loved scary first Romana. Now THERE was an equal. Although if we’re going the opposite way, I really crushed on Nyssa too, even though she fainted any time something scary turned up, or would wander off on holiday for a month or so. But you can’t deny the 10/ Rose chemistry. It’s like they didn’t want it to happen, but they couldn’t help themselves. Lovely stuff. I thought 11 and Amy had great chemistry too, before Rory came along and ruined it by lying lifeless on the floor 300 times.

Do you think you’d like to tackle a scripted piece of Who; say a Big Finish audio for example?

I’d love to, they haven’t asked me yet, but I’d absolutely adore that. I’d love to do a 5, all hands, Tegan, Nyssa; Adric taking a kicking. Four people in the TARDIS is such a tricky dynamic that I’d love to have a shot at it.

Team Master or Team Rani?

Old Master > Rani > new Master

McGann startLet’s assume magic is real and not only can you now fly and turn some wine into even more wine, but you can pick any two Doctor’s, living or dead, to team up for a new episode; who’s it gonna’be, hm?

Like everyone else, Paul coming back gave me the most humongous thrill, as well as making me sad at how good he could have been. Plus I liked the last season DT when he was really really bad, like in Waters of Mars. So DT being bad, and Paul egging him on, for some proper mischief. I just want to see more Paul McGann Who now really, that wasn’t nearly enough.

Doc DIs there an era of Who that, whilst watching it, makes you want to push your finger into your brain to make all the bad feels go away?

I know this will sound terribly daring and pushing the envelope but I truly wasn’t a one for ye olde Baker C. I know, controversial, hey? I don’t even like my non-Who friends seeing pictures of him. And I didn’t much like Jon Pertwee being stuck on earth. Where are we this week? OH EARTH VERY GOOD. My eldest likes him though. He has a cool car and he does kung fu.Also I know it all had a lovely happy ending in real life and all the rest of it, but the Doctor’s Daughter I find really embarrassing.

Congratulations, you’ve just been put in charge of Doctor Who and can make whatever changes you want to it; so what’s your big move? Strand the Doctor on Earth again? Cast a Woman in the title role? Bring back K9, but also add his nephew, Scrappy-K9? Or something else..?

Traitor companion. Constant jeopardy and side-switching, Homeland style. Turlough the whole thing up a bit, I’m slightly over people who think he’s awesome.

Doctor-Who-Into-the-Nowhere-300Promote something you capitalist pig!

OOH do buy Into the Nowhere please. It is a full-on, rollicking Matt and Clara story, with my take on Clara. www.tinyurl.com/intothenowhere

Thanks Jenny!

@DoctorWhoThing

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Interview: ‘Radio Free Skaro’s’ Steven Schapansky

Steven RFSSteven Schapansky not only has a second name that you have to type out very carefully (and then double and triple check) but is also one of the three hosts of Radio Free Skaro, a weekly ‘Doctor Who’ podcast that makes walking to work on a Monday slightly less horrifying. He also co-hosts The Memory Cheats, in which a classic Who story is randomly chosen each week for he and Josh to chat about as well as their age-addled memories will allow. It’s ace, even if they were both COMPLETELY WRONG ABOUT ‘GHOST LIGHT’. I emailed Steven a bunch of questions- THIS BUNCH:

When did Doctor Who first lay it’s cold, clammy hand upon your shoulder and refuse to loosen its grip?

I first saw Doctor Who when I was about 8 or 9. It was on a friend’s TV for just a very few seconds, and involved Tom Baker walking around the TARDIS console. Oddly enough, that was enough to get me to seek it out and I started watching it fairly regularly over the next couple years. But it was Season 18, and particularly “Full Circle”, that got me hooked. Tom Baker’s regeneration at the end of “Logopolis” genuinely shocked me. It was a formative moment of my childhood. I’ve never looked back.Doctor_Who_Full_Circle

Doctor Who fans hate a lot of things with a fiery passion about the show they love; what’s a generally derided element (story, Doctor, monster, outfit, WHATEVS) that you actually think is ace, skill and super nifty?

You know what I genuinely love? OB videotape. No, it’s not as nice as film, but Doctor Who locations were usually only shot on 16mm, not the much cleaner 35mm, so it didn’t look that good to begin with. At least OB videotape was consistent, and I love watching The Mysterious Planet, not entirely sure which scenes were shot on location and which weren’t.

Was there ever a time that you wandered from the one true path? I know when I went to University suddenly I was more interested in things like beer, sleeping as late as possible, and watching Neighbours twice a day than buying every copy of DWM, or completing my VHS collection.

I honestly never have. I’ve never not cared about Doctor Who, but for a few months in the late 1990s, I didn’t go out of my way to watch it. Does that count?

RFSRadio Free Skaro is one of the highest profile Dr Who podcasts, but what on Earth made you start the thing in the first place all those hundreds of episodes ago?

My co-host Warren and I worked side by side in a boring job at a TV station in the early 2000’s, and we were delighted to discover that we were both Doctor Who fans. He suggested that we could do a “podcast” about Doctor Who (I had never heard of a podcast then), and a few months later, we just started blabbing about Doctor Who for an hour a week. It took us a couple of years (and an additional co-host, Chris) to finally figure out what we wanted to do with the show, and now we’ve been going for eight years. Eight years! It looks ridiculous when you see that number in front of you.

Is there anyone you’ve yet to interview who you’d love to get on the show?

Oh my heavens, yes. The obvious ones are Steven Moffat and Russell T Davies. We’ve tried on several occasions to get RTD, and we’ll continue to do so. Peter Capaldi sounds like he would be a fascinating interview, as well. Because of my love of Season 18, Christopher H Bidmead has long been a target, too. 

timeSay three nice things about Timelash.

1) Colin Baker
2) Tinsel
3) Er…hand puppet aliens?

Do you have a favourite Dr Who writer from the first fifty years of the show? You can include Big Finish or Who novel writers!

I hate that Robert Holmes makes this such a slam dunk, so I’ll go with either Steven Moffat or Chris Boucher. Moffat constantly surprises and entertains me, and we were robbed of the prime years of Boucher, with the best parts of Blake’s 7 being his input. 

It’s a sad fact that one day soon ‘The Memory Cheats’ podcast will come to an end, are you at all tempted to tackle, say, ‘The Memory Cheats: The RTD years?’

After eight years of Radio Free Skaro (with no end in sight), the idea of a finite podcast is appealing to me. But you never know. My co-host Josh and I might miss it enough to want to carry on! 

Next time a McCoy era story comes up, can you make Josh say nice things about it?

No promises.

 romWho’s your Doctor and companion? You can choose more than one, if you’re weak.

Mary Tamm. Oh, Mary. She was my first companion when I was 8 or 9 and had a massive crush on her before I even had any idea why I should have a crush on her.

Doctor? I was all about Matt Smith for the past four years, but now I am so excited for Capaldi, he’s my favourite before I’ve even seen a full episode of his. No pressure, Peter.

Favourite New Who episode/episodes, and why?

The Time of Angels/ Flesh and Stone is hands down the best two-parter, and possibly the best story period, done since The Caves of Androzani. Horror, intrigue, tension, comedy,stunning direction, and brilliant performances, including the very first episodes shot with Matt Smith as the new Doctor. He was electric.

girlIs there a Dr Who story, or character, whose popularity makes you scratch your head?

The Girl in the Fireplace. The Doctor’s love affair with Madame de Pompadour comes out of left field, a week after he almost professes his love to Rose in “School Reunion”. And the Doctor just leaves Rose and Mickey on that spaceship full of clockwork droids while he “takes the slow path” with Pompadour! He also completely forgets how the fireplaces work and condemns her to a lonely death as a result. And then everything in that story is forgotten the week after. It’s inconsistent nonsense. 

It’s not all about the TV show, what’s your favourite bit of non-television Who ‘stuff’?

“Doctor Who: A Celebration”, written by Peter Haining for the 20th Anniversary was my first big book about Doctor Who and was my first step into a larger world. 

advLet’s assume magic is real and not only can you now fly and turn some wine into even more wine, but you can pick any two Doctor’s, living or dead, to team up for a new episode; who’s it gonna’ be, hm?

William Hartnell and Matt Smith, purely to see a real life re-creation of THAT scene from “An Adventure in Space and Time”. 

What baddie that has yet to be featured in the modern series would you like to see back? No, you can’t go the easy option and say The Kandyman, pick something else.

Sil would be awesome in the new series. He was never actually properly evil towards the Doctor, just greedy about his own interests. I think he should enlist the temporary help of the Doctor in a dispute with the Collector from “The Sun Makers”.

Are there any missing or partially missing stories you’re hoping will turn up next?

All of them! Who would have put “The Enemy of the World” at the top of their most wanted list before we saw it and realized how incredible it really is? Maybe “The Space Pirates” as actually awesome. Who can tell?

 caveFavourite classic series story/stories and why?

The Caves of Androzani, for all the (many, many) reasons that everyone else has written and talked about its greatness since 1984. Maurice Roeves doesn’t get enough credit, though, as he was magnificent as Stotz, so there’s one more reason why it’s the best story ever made. 

Congratulations, you’ve just been put in charge of Doctor Who and can make whatever changes you want to it; so what’s your big move? Strand the Doctor on Earth again? Cast a Woman in the title role? Bring back K9, but also add his nephew, Scrappy-K9? Or something else..?

I think it would be fun to do a season where the Doctor has lost the TARDIS, and he has to spend a few episodes trying to track it down. Part treasure hunt, part Key to Time season, part Red Dwarf VI.

RTDNeil Gaiman would have been a writer on many Who fans fantasy wish list; is there anyone you’d be interested to see tackle an episode?

Yes – Russell T Davies! I think it would be great to have him write an episode without the yoke of the entire show itself on his shoulders.

 Okay, plug something:

I only have podcasts to plug, it seems. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to them, we did profiles on each producer’s era leading up to the 50th anniversary last year on Radio Free Skaro, with guests such as Rob Shearman, Toby Hadoke, John Williams, Richard Molesworth, and so forth. Episodes 383-387, 389-393 of Radio Free Skaro. And thanks for listening!

Radio Free Skaro | The Memory Cheats


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Interview: Blogtor Who

Cam-pic-200x200Blogtor Who is the website of male adult person Cameron K McEwan. Not only does he run the successful Who-site, but he has also branched out into books and documentaries, with the rather spiffing ‘Who’s Changing: An Adventure In Time With Fans’ having recently been released on DVD, and ‘The Who’s Who of Doctor Who’  now available to buy in all seven remaining book shops.

 

MELOkay, serious question first; Mel, Adric and failed companion Adam are hanging by their fingernails from a cliff edge- who do you help up, and whose fingers do you quietly tread on whilst no one’s looking..?

I like Mel. Well, Bonnie Langford at any rate. Adric’s dead already, though dying twice would still not make up for his utter awfulness. And there’s no way Adam, due to his feebleness, would even get to a cliff.

What on Earth made you decide to set up Blogtor Who?

I used to a blog about TV (like a proper blog, not like what I do now) and I realised most of it was just taken up with Doctor Who. It occurred to me that some readers might find it slightly annoying (as some people, would you believe, don’t like Doctor Who), so I created a space for it by itself.

ScarothMy earliest Who memory involves Peter Davison and a corridor (narrows it down, that); what’s your earliest memory of the show?

It’s a very vivid one. The cliffhanger to Episode One of City of Death – the reveal of Scaroth – stayed with me for years.

The Kandyman can, or the Kandyman can’t?

He can’t. Or certainly, he shouldn’t be allowed the opportunity to.

boomtown-dinnerDoctor Who fans hate a lot of things with a fiery passion about the show they love; what’s a generally derided element (story, Doctor, monster, outfit, WHATEVS) that you actually think is ace, skill and super nifty?

Lots of people have a go at lots of different things. It’s quite easy to find any part of Doctor Who that some “fan” has derided. I have a huge soft spot for Nightmare of Eden. I think it’s great despite the terrible production and performances (and it is, actually, a superb idea). I’m  also very fond of Boom Town which loads of people seem to dislike. Great stuff from Christopher Eccleston and Annette Badland in that one.

The U.S.  plops a pile of money into Who on the caveat that an American is cast in the lead; who’s the least objectionable choice?

Jonny Lee Miller. [Laughs] In all seriousness, I would have absolutely zero issue with an American playing Doctor Who. Kat Dennings would be sensational.

!Hugh_Grant_12th_DoctorGreatest coulda-been actor who was never cast as The Doctor?

Hugh Grant.

How did your new Who Documentary, ‘Who’s Changing’, originally come about?

I was working on another project with my good friend and producer, Elisar Cabrera, when we had a break and chat one day (about a year ago) about working together again. We’re both Who fans so that seemed like the natural thing to do as I’d made a few documentaries at university. I’ve been fascinated at the shift in the fan demographic for the show, and that’s what we tackled.

Is there a particular Who writer, from the classic series, the modern series, or even the novels and Big Finish, that really stands out for you? Even someone who you think has been overlooked a little?

From the classic series I really love the work of Robert Banks Stewart – Zygons and Seeds are just outstanding. Very simple but very effective. In the “modern” era, I adore Russell T Davies but I also love Phil Ford (who is getting another story this year, which is great news) and Richard Curtis did an amazing job on Vincent. Would love to see him write another.

doc-cushingLet’s assume magic is real and not only can you now fly and turn some wine into even more wine, but you can pick any two Doctor’s, living or dead, to team up for a new episode; who’s it gunna’ be, hm?

William Hartnell and Peter Cushing. 🙂

‘Ghost Light’, freaky, ambitious classic, or a big ‘ol pile of ‘What the heck?!’?

Like almost everything post Davison in the Eighties, it was balls. Utter balls.

Since the return of Web and Enemy, the rumours have continued to swirl about what else might be out there; if you could pick one missing (or partially missing) story to have returned, what would it be?

I love Hartnell the best so it would have to be one of his. Probably, and slightly predictably, The Daleks’ Master Plan. Mainly as there are SO many eps to that one. More Billy H to drink in.

Favourite classic era Who eps, and why?

The Five Doctors. It’s got lots of Doctors in it! It’s got lots of companions in it! It’s got lots of baddies in it! Also, the MIND PROBE!

Is there anything from Classic Who that the modern series has yet to bring back that you’d like to see it tackle..?

The Mara. Such a genuinely chilling beast. Real mind games can be played. Failing that, the Terileptils – they could be realised brilliantly with today’s money.

RTDIt’s fantasy-land time; pretend there’s no one out of the shows reach – who would you get to write a Doctor Who story for the next series?

Honestly, Russell T Davies. The show misses his heart, warmth and his ability to immediately connect an audience to a character. But if we’re talking someone new, JK Rowling would be fantastic. A female voice in Who is sorely missed.

Team Dalek or Team Cybermen?

I’ve never been a fan of the Daleks, or scared by them. Whereas the Cybes in Earthshock really made an impression on me as a youngster.

Donna_and_the_Time_BeetleFavourite modern Who episode/episodes, and why?

Midnight and Turn Left are the two episodes where I pretty much loved the show as much as I ever have. That was the pinnacle of my love for Doctor Who. Two very different stories that tested the show’s format. And did so perfectly. I still cry at Donna’s Circle of Mirrors scene. An amazing score from Murray Gold.

If we fight like animals, will we die like animals?

Only if you overact.

Congratulations, you’ve just been put in charge of Doctor Who and can make whatever changes you want to it; so what’s your big move? Strand the Doctor on Earth again? Cast a Woman in the title role? Bring back K9, but also add his nephew, Scrappy-K9? Or something else..?

Two words. One is Female. The other is Doctor.

PLUG SOMETHING YOU CAPITALIST PIG:

Book. DVD. Website. Pigs.