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Celebrating Towel Day and Douglas Adams: Why We Love City of Death

It’s Towel Day, a time to celebrate the work of much-loved writer, Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Dirk Gently). And I’ve been working with Lovarzi to make this infographic.

Adams scripted the fan-favourite Doctor Who serial, City of Death, so we thought it would be the ideal time to look back on this four-parter from 1979. It meant I had to rewatch the story for research purposes. I worked with Maninder Singh Sahota, director of Lovarzi, and a great designer to fulfill this idea, but boy am I happy with how it’s turned out.

Plus Maninder’s running a competition until tomorrow night over at the Lovarzi site.

I obviously wrote all the copy, but I also worked with Maninder to whittle it down and then expand it further in several edits, and created a basic design. Oh, and then I helped distribute it. So all in all, I’m very proud of it. I’m proud of Maninder, the designer, and how well it’s done.

As a side-note, I met Julian Glover last year, and he’s a very nice guy – and of course, a great actor!

doctor-who-city-of-death

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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in PR, Published work, Television

 

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Pre-Order Kasterborous Magazine #2 Now!

The second issue of the Kasterborous Magazine is now available for pre-order!

K Mag 2

This time, we’re focusing on video games, from 1983’s Doctor Who: The First Adventure to the most recent (very popular) mobile game, Legacy. And I’ve got a feature in the mag, looking at the MMO game, Worlds in Time, launched in 2012. Unfortunately, it closed earlier this year, but that didn’t reflect the massive amount of thought and care that went into it. I interviewed Ben Badgett, Creative Director of BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment & Games, about the process; he told me:

“We really wanted to fulfill the fantasy of having the Doctor choose the player to take them on adventures through space and time. I think that’s a huge part of the appeal of the companions, and part of staying true to the show.”

I’m in good company: editor, Christian Cawley, has bought together some great writers, including Mez Burdett; Scott Varnham; James McLean (who also designed it – and it really does look fantastic); Elton Townend-Jones… and The Valeyard!

I’m especially impressed by the clever cover. Utterly brilliant.

As well as a print and digital edition, this issue will also be available as an instantly-readable PDF for £1.99, accessible through most e-readers and of course, your PC. Plus, if you go with this option, you get Issue 1 completely free – and that one includes my interview with Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith!

Believe me: a lot of work has gone into the issue and we’re all very proud of it.

Digital copies are expected to be available sometime next month.

The print version is available to pre-order today for just £9.99 from the Kasterborous Store.

 
 

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Moffat on First Drafts and Honesty

Steven Moffat, showrunner of Doctor Who, has given his tips on getting your script made, including pitch, first drafts and subsequent drafts; as well as dismissing some myths about writing, he also talks about how hard it is to write.

Steven Moffat 3

You know when you talk to someone about your story and you immediately sound like a loon and feel the idea is awful? In Doctor Who Magazine #471, he writes, tongue firmly in cheek, about why that experience is so painful:

“It is not that writers are sensitive beats – I am, but the rest are well hard – it is that writing is humiliating. It is cataloguing in public everything you think is insightful or clever or funny or exciting. Or, in fact, sexy, which is the worst. No writer has ever had sex, so frankly, it’s all guesswork.”

As Shrek says, ogres are like onions, and it’s exposing those layers to the world in a way very few actually do. It’s telling the truth.

He also tackles that first draft and a perceived wisdom passed on from writer to writer which makes very little sense…

“Everyone who ever says ‘It’s only a first draft’ can do to screaming hell and burn. Somehow that has become the norm. Writers say things like, ‘Well, it’s just a discussion document really!’ No it isn’t… The first draft is the real work. It’s when you haul the story out of the mud, and get a look at what you’ve got. The first draft is authorship – everything after that is engineering. So you give it everything. You draft and redraft every tiny moment, until you honestly believe it’s utterly, transcendently perfect. Until you’re tearing up at its golden qualities. The correct mental  state: there will be no other draft necessary past this, because it’s perfect! This is to be held simultaneously with the other, equally true thought: I will write many other drafts.”

I think this hits the nail on the head. Everyone just accepts that “writing is rewriting” and it’s probably just to make that first draft easier to put down on paper. It’s hard to start.

There are plenty more gems of advice in the issue’s Production Notes column and is truly fascinating for any wannabe screenwriter.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Television

 

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Ripper Street Revived!

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Ripper Street, one of my favourite dramas, was unjustly axed last year – but it’s been announced that the BBC has struck a deal with Amazon to bring it back for Series 3, with stars Matthew Macfadyen (Spooks; The Three Musketeers), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones; Soldier Soldier), Adam Rothenberg (Elementary; Alacatraz), and MyAnna Buring (Doctor Who; The Kill List).

Its axing, blamed on supposedly-low ratings but more likely that the show is costly to make, was met with outcry, particularly as Series 2 concluded on a game-changer. The scripts, it seems, have already been written, and Flynn has said that the upcoming run of eight episodes starts filming in May.

Amazon has saved the show with a co-production deal through its Prime Instant Video service (formerly LoveFilm). The online company is expected to air the episodes a few months before they arrive on the BBC.

I honestly think Ripper Street is one of the strongest dramas on TV; I highly advise everyone to seek out an episode from last year’s run, called Am I Not Monstrous?. Merrick’s monologue in last few scenes is just beautiful.

Created by Richard Warlow, you can read the script for Series 1, Episode 1, at the BBC Writer’s Room.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Television

 

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All of Time and Space: 50 Years of Doctor Who

There was a gap in time and space.

A gap between Grandstand and Juke Box Jury, primetime on BBC1. They needed something that could appeal to everyone, that could run and run, that would capture the imagination of the nation. And thanks to a team that included Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert, Waris Hussein, and William Hartnell, Doctor Who was born.

An Unearthly Child 1 - feat

The very first episode was broadcast 50 years ago today. This immense anniversary surely can’t have passed anyone by; it’s something that TV really can’t do that often – simply because not much lasts that long, not much can become compulsive television, not much is ingrained in society’s psyche quite like Doctor Who.

What’s its lasting appeal? Well, watch an episode. Longevity is ingrained in its very DNA.

Showrunner, Steven Moffat, recently called the show immortal. Even in The Wilderness Years (the 1990s and early 2000s, for those uninitiated), the Doctor and his wonderful TARDIS lived on in books and audio and comics and in the minds of many generations. It’s a living legend.

Despite its proud British iconography, that famous Time Lord has travelled the globe: tonight’s 50th anniversary celebration, which stars Matt Smith and David Tennant as the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors respectively, will be simulcast around the globe.

It would be easy to propose a toast to those who have made the show what it is. But the weight of those individuals would be incredible. Of course, let’s look at those Doctors – William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi – splendid fellows, all of them!

But then there are the companions, the guest stars, the writers, the directors, the producers, designers, floor managers, assistant directors, executive producers, showrunners… Oh, there have been so many.

So thank you all.

Doctor Who has changed my life; that’s no secret. And one day, I want to write for the Doctor. Yes, one day. But for now, I’m happy celebrating in my own little way. I’ve watched An Unearthly Child this morning; went to see the actual TARDIS last weekend (!); have been writing Introducing: Doctor Who feature articles for Kasterborous since January; rewatched Cold War (just because); am reading The Only Good Dalek; am poring through the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine; and (something which I’m almost sure no one else in the world is doing to celebrate) am reading the TARGET novel, Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy.

I can’t wait to find out what I’m doing on the show’s 100th anniversary.

Another amazing thing about Doctor Who is how it brings people together. I’m part of a fandom, a network of dedicated people, all who love the same thing. I now have friends I didn’t have before 2005, when I became a fan… No, actually, I now have friends I didn’t have before last year – and it’s all thanks to Doctor Who.

To paraphrase the Eighth Doctor – friends I’ve known: I salute you.

The show has also given me countless hours of entertainment. And there’s not a person in the UK who doesn’t know what the TARDIS is. There’s not a person in the UK who doesn’t know what the Daleks are.

And as a fitting paradox, there’s not a person in the UK who doesn’t know who the Doctor is – even though we don’t actually know much about him. Doctor… Who?

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Television, Uncategorized

 

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Interviewing Matt Smith: One Year On.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I interviewed the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.

Matt Smith Handprint 2

I’m immensely proud of the interview and all the articles that came from it, including a feature, All Monsters, Great and Small, which starred in the very first issue of the Kasterborous Magazine. But it’s not just professional pride. It’s also a very personal thing that will stay with me until the day I die (or regenerate). Reading through all the material, listening to it on the Dictaphone, or just going through the bits that I bought at their shop – it brings back the excitement of that day.

Matt Smith wasn’t the only person of interest there; though I didn’t get to meet him, one of my writing inspirations, showrunner Steven Moffat, was a surprise guest and gave a brilliant speech.

Not only was it an honour to speak to Matt and see Steven, but it proves an ongoing source of inspiration. This is the world I want to be in.

It’s a strange but wonderful feeling. Surreal, certainly, but there’s a fantastic excitement running through me, and I hope it comes across in my work. I can’t help but think, how amazing would it be to write for Matt, to write for other incredible actors, to work alongside the people I admire…

I was astonished at how nonplussed some of the other journalists were when faced with the Doctor. Most would not admit to the sheer excitement they must surely feel. But I’m not like that, and I know I’ll never become complacent. It was a mind-blowing experience.

Matt is my Doctor, and I’m gutted that he’s leaving at Christmas. But then, I love all the Doctors and I’m certain Peter Capaldi will be just as stunning.

Nonetheless, I want to thank my Kasterborous editor, Christian Cawley, for giving me such a unique opportunity. And I want to say a special thanks  – even though they’ll never read this – to Matt and Steven, who have given me not only a consistently exceptional era of my favourite show, but also a day I’ll never forget.

 

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Celebrate, Regenerate Out Now – And it’s Free!

I’ve contributed to the new unofficial Doctor Who book, celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary, Celebrate, Regenerate.

Celebrate Regenerate

The book is made by fans for fans, and highlights every single episode of in-canon Who from An Unearthly Child to this year’s The Name of the Doctor – plus a few extras, including Curse of the Fatal Death, The Sarah Jane Adventures’ The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith and Death of the Doctor and Time Crash, which saw the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) meet the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison). It also includes interviews with director, Joe Ahearne (Dalek; Father’s Day), 1960s companions, Anneke Wills (Polly Wright) and The Girl Who Waited writer, Tom MacRae.

My contribution is to The Power of Three (2012), though it also encapsulates every Steven Moffat-penned Who script up until then, and I’m very pleased to say that editor, Lewis Christian, has published my article in full! He says:

“This project, for me, sums up how awesome fandom can be when it comes together. We’re only a tiny percentage of Doctor Who‘s *entire fandom* but I think this makes its mark on the history of the show, and I think it’s a wonderful addition to the countless other celebrations going on – if I may say so myself. And, of course, this would not be possible without you guys. Yes I put it together, but you all *made* the thing, so a big collective pat on the back! (Or, if you can’t reach, just give yourself a big thumbs up.)”

The book costs £8.99 (black and white interior, but with a full-colour cover), including a £1 donation to Children in Need… Or you can read it for free over at the official website. A full-colour copy is also available, but it costs an astounding £45.20, due to self-publishing printing costs.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Books, Published work, Television

 

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