The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Mockingbird

Visited the Charles Darwin exhibition at the Natural History Museum on Simon Guerrier’s recommendation. Having read up on Darwin a while ago, it was more a case of being reminded of things I’d forgotten rather than being told things I didn’t know. Disappointed it didn’t mention his fascinating experiment to see if earthworms would respond to the sound of a whistle, the piano, the bassoon or being shouted at (perhaps surprisingly, they didn’t.)

Ages ago, I wrote a Doctor Who audio about Darwin, Bloodtide. It’s still available from Big Finish, if you’ve never heard it, I recommend you do. I think it’s one of my best Doctor Who things, the sound design is fabulous, the direction is pitch-perfect, the cast is terrific. The script isn’t too bad either – it gets a little hokey in part four, but the rest, part one in particular, is so good I’m not entirely sure that I wrote it.

The twist is that it’s about Darwin discovering that man wasn’t in fact the result of evolution, but was the result of ‘intelligent design’ – humanity being the result of monsters tampering with the genes of Australopithecus apes, for horrific reasons unearthed somewhere around the end of part three. Think Quatermass and the Pit, but not copying. The odd, but inevitable, response from some listeners was that the play was too pro-evolution and anti-Christian (as if these things are contradictory). I can’t remember my thinking at the time, but I’d probably thought that implying that Charles Darwin had published Of The Origin Of Species as a cover-up, as a way of keeping the dreadful truth of mankind’s true ancestry secret, would go down well with creationists.

But if I could rewrite it, the only thing I’d change would be to change the finches to mockingbirds.

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