John Lucarotti (1990)

Here’s John Lucarotti talking to DWM about his scripts for the show, which ranged from the first season’s ‘Marco Polo’ to the twelfth season’s ‘The Ark in Space’, although the latter was substantially rewritten by Robert Holmes.

“Marco Polo was my first. I think it was the first time that William Hartnell really got to grips with ‘Doctor Who’. The previous story had been ‘The Daleks’ and I think William Hartnell was uncomfortable coping with machines and robots – he couldn’t really ‘find’ the Doctor, he needed that human rapport and he really found his stride with ‘Marco Polo’.

“Writing ‘The Massacre’ was a totally different experience to the earlier ‘Doctor Who’s I did – and a very unhappy one. The producer and story editor had changed. With Verity Lambert and David Whitaker it had been roses, roses all the way, but with the team that had taken over by then, it wasn’t! Eventually it came to a head-on collision – I wanted to take my name off the credits, but my agent dissuaded them.

“The Massacre had been imposed on me, I had wanted to do the discovery of North America, and suddenly there was a switch in production teams and it was John Wiles and Donald Tosh taking over from Verity and David, so the script came bouncing back to me through the mail saying ‘No, that’s not what we want’. I said I had a verbal agreement with David Whitaker, and they said that they certainly didn’t want it, they wanted ‘The Massacre’ instead. Bill wanted a serial where he wasn’t the Doctor, so we came up with the idea where he was the Abbot of Amboise, the Doctor’s double’.

“My storyline for ‘The Ark in Space’ was that something had happened and the Earth was uninhabitable. So there was this Ark full of human beings sleeping, until a plot of land that resembled the Kent countryside grew inside the Ark, which would automatically wake the sleepers, telling them it was safe to go back to Earth. But there had been a malfunction and when the Doctor makes a rendezvous (he doesn’t go by accident, he tells everybody he has something to do), he goes up to the Ark to help wake everybody up but finds there are aliens inside the Ark already. They’re called the Delc, one race are heads without bodies, the others are bodies without heads, who do the donkey work.

“I never saw Bob Holmes’ version, so I don’t know how close they were, but my one was the battle between the Doctor and the Delc, with the body brigade able to reproduce themselves instantly – in a flash one becomes fifty. I remember Bob writing and saying ‘No, sorry John, that’s not quite it’, but they did pay me and because I lived on a boat in Corsica, it wasn’t practical for me to rewrite them, so Bob did it his way.”

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