The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Everybody's Talkin'



This week sees the release of Doctor Who: Babblesphere, another audio adventure by yours truly, and the latest instalment in the ongoing Destiny of the Doctor series. It’s narrated and performed by Lalla Ward, (who I’m sure you know played Romana in the TV series in the late 70s) with Roger Parrot playing various supporting roles and all sorts of marvellous evocative sound design by Steven Foxon (it’s a combination of audio play and talking book, a bit like Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles series but narrated in the third person).

I’m told that Lalla enjoyed the recording – I wasn’t there, alas – even going so far as to say that it was one of the best Doctor Who stories she’d done not to be written by Douglas Adams. I report this not to boast – well, maybe a bit – but just as a reminder to myself, when I’m having my next long, dark, night of feeling utterly devoid of talent* that it wasn’t always the case. I’m also told that she liked some bits so much she read them out to her husband, the inspirational Richard Dawkins. So that’s quite a high recommendation.

The story concerns the decline and fall of an Earth colony in the distant future, where the adoption of an extreme form of social networking has resulted in tyranny. It’s not the most subtle of satires ever written! It’s a little bit Douglas Adams-y in style (mainly through trying to evoke the Doctor Who stories upon which he worked, rather than his writing style) and maybe it’s the sort of thing he’d be writing (much, much better) if he was still around. It also includes numerous Doctor Who in-jokes and references, some of which are so obscure there should be a prize for spotting them.

It’s a story I’ve had ‘kicking around’ for a few years now (at one point it was even topical!). At one point it was going to be an audio adventure for Tom Baker, but something happened, and at another point it was going to be a comic strip, but again, something happened. I always thought it was one of those ideas that’s so obvious it’s inevitable that somebody would do it sooner or later, so that person might as well be me.

You can order the story on CD from AudioGo or as a download from Big Finish, and listen to (more or less) the first three minutes of the story here.


By way of a taster, here’s a glimpse of what might have been; the first page of the story when it was going to be a DWM comic strip called Witter way back in 2009. I only got as far as a synopsis with the rest of it, so this is all there is...

Doctor Who: Witter

Draft 1

PAGE ONE

Panel 1

BOX ONE:

TOTALLYSHANE MORE RAIN! NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS!

A futuristic city in a state of decay. Brutalist architecture. A block of flats, a cross between the San-Chi ghost hotel, and one of those hamster homes connected with tubes. Crumbling concrete daubed with graffiti, overgrown with lichen and straggling plants. Logan’s Run gone to seed. It’s overcast and raining heavily. Puddles in the walkways. In the distance, tube trains.

SHANE is looking out of the window whilst cleaning his teeth. He’s skinny, 20, and wearing pants and a t-shirt. His hair is shaved in a crew cut. His eyes are bleary and vacant; not like a zombie, but as though he hasn’t slept for weeks.

Beside this frame, there’s a box listing the ongoing responses, like a list, each prefixed with a small icon of someone’s face, or a playful cat, or an identifying symbol.

BOX TWO:

DERRICK66 WHAT DID I DRINK LAST NIGHT? OR, MORE TO THE POINT, WHAT DIDN’T I DRINK LAST NIGHT! LOL!

Panel 2

Inside SHANE’s flat. Futuristic mod-cons in a state of disrepair. Plates in the sink. Books, magazines and discs scattered. Barely a spare inch of floor or sofa space. SHANE is fixing himself breakfast, yawning as he gazes into the fridge – in which there are a series of identical white foil takeaway containers.

BOX ONE:

TOTALLYSHANE CORNFLAKES OR TOAST? CAN’T DECIDE! #BREAKFAST

BOX TWO:

TRISHBABE CHANGED HER RELATIONSHIP STATUS TO ‘IT’S COMPLICATED’.
THECLIVEMEISTER NOT GOING TO WORK. HAVE LAZAR FLU. ALL SNEEZY. :-(

Panel 3

SHANE’s incredibly dull morning continues. He’s gone for cornflakes, which he munches as he gazes up at a television – a black and white portable – fixed high up in the far corner of the room whilst he absent-mindedly scratches his arse.

Reveal that SHANE has a small computer-chip implant on the side of his head,

BOX ONE:

TOTALLYSHANE HAS A HEADACHE. ODD. FEELS FUNNY.

BOX TWO:

LUCY74 SENT TRISHBABE A HUG.
MYNAMEISBARRY IS HAVING SAUSAGES. OM NOM NOM. #BREAKFAST
LONELYDAVE CAN’T GET OVER LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF THE FLEX.

Panel 4

Suddenly, SHANE is staggering, weak, a dazed look in his eyes, forehead frowning. He’s not quite dropped the cornflakes, but the milk and flakes are sloshing out of the bowl.

BOX ONE:

TOTALLYSHANE FEELS LIKE MY BRAIN IS ON FIRE!!!

BOX TWO:

DERRICK66 KNOW THE FEELING, TOTALLYSHANE! LOL!
BIGBELINDA HAS LOST ONE KG. FOR THE WIN!!! (LUCY74 LIKES THIS.)
TIMF003 DON’T GO GIVING ME SPOILERS, LONELYDAVE, NOT SEEN IT YET!

Panel 5

SHANE collapses to the floor, screaming and writhing in silent agony, as though he’s having an epileptic fit, as smoke pours out of his ears, eyes, nostrils and mouth.

BOX ONE:

TOTALLYSHANE OMG! OMG! OMG! AAAAARGH! EPIC FAIL!

BOX TWO:

THECLIVEMEISTER CHOSE HIS TOP FIVE MOVIES FEATURING MONKEYS.
MYNAMEISBARRY FRIED TOMATOES. OM NOM NOM. #BREAKFAST
GOSS0074 POSTED A PICTURE OF HIS CAT EATING A BISCUIT.

Panel 6

SHANE’s corpse lies on the floor, still smoking, face-down in his cornflakes bowl.

BOX ONE:

TOTALLYSHANE IS OFFLINE.

* Every night except Tuesdays.

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