Yes, he’s been quiet again. What are the excuses? Busyness, mainly. I’ve had a great deal of stuff to write over the past few weeks and it’s been fairly non-stop, broken up only by a couple of days in a recording studio, I’ve said too much already, popping into the Big Finish office to record a couple of podcasts – I have never sounded more hesitant, which is odd because normally talking about myself and my writing is one of my favourite subjects – and nipping down to Tunbridge Wells to guest at a Doctor Who convention, Big Blue Box, alongside Simon Guerrier and John Dorney.
Whilst at the convention, I saw Simon’s short film, Cleaning Up, which is terrific, I praise the writing, acting and direction equally lavishly, and Louise Jameson’s play (written by Helen Goldwyn, who has occasionally turned up in things I wrote in thankless parts) Pulling Faces which was also rather extraordinary, a real showcase for Louise’s versatility and range.
But the real reason why I’m putting finger to keyboard is that this week saw the release of my latest original Doctor Who audio adventure, The Curse Of Davros. I say original because, of course, my last one was an adaptation of a storyline by Philip Hinchcliffe (and he phoned the Big Finish office to tell them how much he’d enjoyed it! Can you believe that? I can’t.).
The Curse Of Davros features Colin Baker and Terry Molloy as the sixth Doctor and Davros, and introduces – or rather, re-introduces – Lisa Greenwood as new companion Philippa ‘Flip’ Jackson, and also stars Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Daleks (he also directed it). It starts off in present-day Thamesmead and then leaps back to the Battle of Waterloo, which as I’m sure you know took place in Belgium on the 18th June 1815. As such, it features appearances by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Duke Of Wellington, Marshal Ney plus myriad other French and English soldiers. It’s intended to be a big, bold, ‘season opener’ type story, an action-packed blockbuster with incident, comedy, scary bits and mad ideas. And if you like, there’s even a little bit of moral stuff in there about the nature of evil.
It was an absurd, overwhelming honour to be asked to write for Davros and the Daleks – I remember when Joe Lidster was writing Terra Firma sitting in our front room searching the internet for songs that were out of copyright to use in a party scene – and I pulled out all the stops and put in all the late nights I could in writing it. I even visited the Napoleon museum in Paris for research (as well as reading a couple of books on Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo). To give you some idea of how much effort I was putting in, the first draft of the final episode came to 9,500 words (the optimum length of an audio episode being 5,000 words). So all those scenes on St Helena with the two Napoleons had to go, alas, along with innumerable scenes of French people being blown up.
I may talk about some aspects of the story later – if I can remember – as it’s already thrown up a couple of interesting discussions in various fora. But for now suffice it to say I think it’s the best thing I’ve done (so far), the performances are incredible, the direction and sound design are spot on, the cover artwork is stunning, and I couldn’t be happier with it*. If I had to choose only one Doctor Who audio I’ve written as an example of my work, this would be the one.
It can be ordered here.
* Though I wanted the theme tune to part four to start with the Marseillais a la All You Need Is Love. Oh well, you can’t have everything!