David Whitaker (1970’s)

As promised, here’s more from David Whitaker, talking about the creation of Vicki’s character, his Troughton-era Dalek scripts and his work on the first Doctor Who novelisations.

“The new girl Tanni (later Vicki) was intended to be something of a waif and stray, someone basically for the Doctor to adopt in place of Susan and to carry on her role in the series. I don’t think it was a particularly inspired piece of writing, but it was a necessary one.

“The Crusades is the story I am technically proudest of. It achieved almost to a word what I set out to depict and was people with some particularly interestingly real characters. I became fascinated with the relationship between Richard and his sister, which was almost incestuous in its intensity. I relished the dialogue that the story allowed me to write, and the period itself was so interesting that it became almost a labour of love to produce a script worthy of the colour and depth of drama that had inspired it, within the limits of the budget – and what was permissible for that time slot and indeed for that time, when television was not the liberated lady it has since become. The final satisfaction came with the truly inspired acting and direction – Douglas Camfield worked my words into some beautiful and taut images.

“I was approached to write the ‘Doctor Who’ novels and, once I agreed, found that I had taken on an incredible amount of work, because the whole of Terry Nation’s story for ‘The Daleks’ had to be re-structured and largely re-written by me to make the thing stand up on its own as a novel, separate from the continuing threads of the mainstream television series. I was quite pleased with the result and though it was hard work, I enjoyed it. The second book, ‘The Crusades’, was much more straightforward and less complicated, though, as I liked that one so much anyway. I found it enjoyable from the start.

“With ‘The Power of the Daleks’, it was around the time that William Hartnell was leaving and so, aware that the idea was to replace him with another actor, I wrote the Doctor’s part as sketchily as possible, so that it could be easily altered. I then concerned myself with the rest of the story and delivered my script just before I was due to leave the country. It was a very different kettle of fish when it appeared, and I wasn’t desperately happy about the whole thing.

“The Evil of the Daleks had a lot to it, and it included a theme I’m very fond of – the lure of alchemy. It was as good opportunity to write an atmosphere story, and I had some pleasing characters to work with. It still suffered from re-writes, however, and although it was intended to be the final Dalek story, as Terry wanted to launch them in America, I didn’t really think they’d be gone for good.”

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