On School Reunion
Until I started working on Doctor Who, I thought the fact that I could name the Doctors in order made me a sad anorak. But when I met Matt Jones, Steven Moffat and Tom MacRae, I realised I was paddling in the shallow end.
Having Sarah Jane and K-9 was no more of a serial element than for any other show. There are always storyline threads to pick up. It’s only when I read of my ‘eagerly anticipated’ episode, that I start getting the fear.
They said they wanted to bring back Sarah Jane and K-9. ‘Aside from that, do anything you want.’ So I went away and wrote a story and they said, ‘No, that’s rubbish. Do anything you want, as long as it’s not that’.
In terms of the Doctor’s personal history, Russell T. Davies was always keen to be moving forward, so mine is the only episode where there are moments of reflection. You always have to reduce it to a human level, and, in that situation for the Doctor, it’s the current girlfriend meeting the ex-wife. Once you start thinking like that, it becomes much easier to write.
Writing special effects was fantastic. I loved it. One tends to ask for the moon. They calculated how many days of special-effects work would be required and it was about seven years, so we pared it down after that. I remember being sent the first assembly… where David Tennant and Billie Piper were running down a corridor being chased by somebody holding a pole with a tennis ball on the end.
On The Vampires of Venice
I’m going to get a reputation as the go-to guy for vampires. I was going to write a completely different episode. The Doctor was lost in some kind of labytinth. And we developed that for a while, and everybody was really pleased, but then Steven Moffat and piers Wenger said ‘You know what? This is kind of similar to another couple of episodes that we’re doing. Can we think about something else?’.
They said ‘You can set it anywhere in the world that you want, but it should be romantic’. So I thought o Venice, which is one of my favourite places in the world. It was one of the most straightforward script processes I have ever had. I can’t remember who wast he first person to mention vampires – probably me – but it was also the fact that Venice is a very dark, macabra place, full of shadows and secrets.
On Being Human I am executive producer so I have to give notes on all the treatments, where appropriate I have to rewrite other people’s scripts, I have a say in casting, and I deal with the heads of department and all that. As a result it’s really lovely every now and then for that to be somebody else’s responsibility. And also because I genuinely absolutely love Doctor Who, so writing for that show is always an honour. And I think Steven is quite simply a genius. So writing on the show is a delight and a pleasure. But one of the other things that makes it enjoyable is that I am a hack writer on it. I go away and write it, and I hand it in, but they have to chose the director, they have to choose the costumes, they have to decide on the design and all of that. And I just don’t have that headache. Every now and then it’s nice to have a working holiday if you see what I mean