Under Three Hundred

The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The End of the World

Out today, the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine (available at all good newsagents) has a couple of things by me in it.

First of all, there’s Take Two – 50 Years of the Second Doctor, an article on the Patrick Troughton era of  the show. Hopefully I say a few things that haven’t been said before, point out some things that have been overlooked. As it is, it’s more about the way the programme changed as Patrick Troughton became the second Doctor, but with the change of Doctor reflecting the way the programme was changing under producer Innes Lloyd rather than the change of Doctor causing the show to change. And at no point do I use the term ‘cosmic hobo’, which is a first.

Secondly there’s a Fact of Fiction article on The End of the World. Which, thanks to an extremely lovely person, includes a large amount of hitherto unpublished information about the first draft of the script, including lots of deleted scenes. The whole point of doing these articles is to uncover new information, stuff which hasn’t been covered in previous archives or The Complete Series magazines; it makes life difficult but that is also the fun of it, and hopefully it will make going to back to watch the episode a richer experience (in the same way as reading Revolution in the Head and The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions might increase a fan’s appreciation of the Beatles).

Plus, marvellously, the wonderful Russell T Davies agreed to answer a few questions about the episode, so even if you’re not fascinated by differences between script drafts and which bits of dialogue were late additions in ADR there is a lot of entertaining and illuminating stuff in there.

And, in four weeks’ time, there’ll be another one. A Fact of Fiction on The Runaway Bride – which includes a rather amazing thing that no-one has noticed, hidden in clear view all along...

Friday, 23 September 2016


Yesterday saw the publication of another issue of Doctor Who Magazine with a thing by me in it. The thing on this occasion is a feature on the Cybermen, entitled You Know Our Ways, and, for the first time, reveals the metal giants’ own verdict on their many ingenious Cyber-plans. Which one do they consider the most logical? Which one was the greatest success? It’s all in there, along with me doing my Torchwood joke again. I am also particularly proud of one of the gags for Rise of the Cybermen.

I’m not sure what more I can say about the article. It’s, um, hopefully humorous, which in a way is harder than writing something serious because with some stories a lot of jokes have been made already, and also the article is celebratory so the jokes are affectionate, rather than at the expense of the stories or their production values. Largely.

Anyway, this is the third one of these I’ve done; I’ve now described the events of The Five Doctors from the point of view of the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Master. What next? Well, I suppose I could do it from the point of view of the Brigadier, or K-9, or the Time Lords, or even the Doctor himself... well, we’ll see. Stay tuned!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

In It For The Money

Well, that last blog was popular. Who knew that so many people (5700 and counting) would want to know about Jeremy Corbyn’s EU referendum campaign. I’m glad I wrote it. I regret – a little – being so cheeky about his supporters – who are really the well-meaning victims of a confidence trick -  but, well, I’m not in the business of winning hearts and minds, I’m just having fun.

Anyway, enough about politics, back to Doctor Who, and the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine which has another The Fact of Fiction by me in it, this time about the 1977 adventure The Sun Makers. It was fun to do, but tough because there aren’t alternative drafts of the story knocking about, and the story has already been quite extensively researched (particularly by Jim Smith for the DVD Production Subtitles). That said, I hope I found some new things to say – there’s some topical references that haven’t been picked up before, and while I couldn’t find any pre-Columbian source for the sun god face in the Gatherer’s Office I did at least find the source of the sun makers’ logo. I also had some fun disproving some repeated-wisdoms about the story – no, the opening shot does not resemble the opening shot of Rudolph Cartier’s production of Nineteen Eighty-Four at all, I’ve checked:

The one thing I didn’t have room to include in the article are my own memories of watching the story, back when I would’ve been four years old. I don’t remember much of it – this was the beginning of a long run of episodes which took place in corridors and which didn’t have any memorable monsters – but I do recall a sense of the hospital-like sterility of the corridors, particularly the one shot on location. I think I remember the bit where they throw the Gatherer off the roof – it’s played and shot as though it’s one of those bits in Monty Python where they throw a dummy out of a tower block, but it’s basically Mussolini being strung up in a petrol station.

The only scene I remember with any clarity – and bear in mind, I remembered absolutely nothing of Image of the Fendahl, Underworld and The Invasion of Time, so I’m not even sure I watched them – is the bit at the end where the Collector is – spoiler warning – revealed to be a green blobby alien (haven’t had one of those for a few weeks) and vanishes down a plughole. Yes, it’s suddenly struck me that they were basically doing the Rutan again, weren’t they? I’m not sure what the point of all this is, except to say that in the days before videos, before novelisations in many cases, the only way you could keep these stories alive was in your memory. A few years on, and I’d remember Destiny of the Daleks and City of Death almost on a shot-for-shot basis (they were repeated, which helped). 

But it’s interesting, I think, how enduring some television memories can be – I’m not sure how many specific moments from my early childhood I remember, it’s all a muddle of places and people – but for years I have been haunted by unplaced memories from shows and films which have turned out to be Quincy’s Quest, a schools adaptation of Mr Humphries and his Inheritance, the musical Carousel, and most embarrassing of all the Rentaghost Christmas special. I think I’ve ticked them all of now, there is nothing outstanding (well, maybe a vague memory of an edition of Emu where they were in a lighthouse, but that’s all mixed up with Horror of Fang Rock).

Anyway, I’ve digressed. The point is, new Doctor Who Magazine, exciting feature by me on the classic story The Sun Makers, rush out and buy it now.