The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Masterpiece

Peter Capaldi!!! Bloody amazing, eh? Couldn’t be more excited. And there’s something really quite beautiful, moving and poetic that someone who, as a teenager back in the 1970s, was writing terribly earnest and in-depth articles in Doctor Who fan newsletters gets to play the Doctor a mere forty years later.

Anyway, apologies for the blog hiatus, due to the fact that the second half of July contained about a month’s worth of working, writing a Big Finish audio, script-editing several more, and writing a Fact of Fiction article for Doctor Who Magazine. August will probably be similarly packed but it’s the beginning of the month so I’m still in the ‘denial’ stage
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Last month saw the release of my latest, and second to last, Doctor Who Companion Chronicle audio adventure, ‘Mastermind’. It’s a little different from normal Companion Chronicles because, as the title suggests, it’s a story all about the Master, and not one of the Doctor’s traditionally-defined companions*. The story is also a follow-up to my earlier audio Tales from the Vault, featuring the characters Ruth Masterson and Charlie Sato, as played by Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso. You don’t need to have heard the earlier audio to understand this one, but I’d encourage you to buy it anyway.

Looking back through my emails, I discover that I was first asked about writing a ‘Tales from the Vault Too’ back in January 2012, where I was offered the choice of Ruth and Charlie meeting either Davros, a lone Sontaran or the Master. Having recently done a Davros story, but not having done a Master story before** I leapt at the chance, pitching a Silence of the Lambs-type set up. I then delivered a synopsis on February and, once it had been approved, a first draft by the end of March (part of the brief was that it had to be done very quickly to fit in with the actors’ availability).

As part of working through the Top Hundred Movies You Have To See Of All Time Before You Die I’d seen the various Godfathers and Goodfellas, so tried to recapture the feel of those films into the story, along with bits of Paradise Lost (to add a touch of literary class, the Master identifying with the figure of Satan). The story covers a period of the Master’s biography which hadn’t really been explored before elsewhere, the period after the events of the 1996 TV movie. In so doing, I incorporated continuity from Joseph Lidster’s stories Master and Forgotten and various other things, in the spirit of trying to avoid contradicting what has been previously established.

The story was recorded on 11 May, and was one of the best recording sessions I’ve been too, because the actors were all in top form, particularly Geoffrey Beevers who was charismatic, captivating and terrifying as the Master. It’s lovely when a play comes to life and just works, when you hear your own writing being performed so well it sounds a hundred per cent better than it is.

 And it was released, over a year later, last month. The wife and I listened to it whilst sunbathing in the back garden, which is entirely the wrong way to listen to it, but nevertheless it was engrossing and claustrophobic, and had a wonderful sense of creeping dread. I was particularly pleased with how well the flashbacks for Ruth and Charlie worked; I’d tried to write them as strongly as I could but hearing them performed with the effects gave them an extraordinary emotional punch above and beyond anything I had imagined.

 So, there you go, thanks for reading and if you haven’t already bought Mastermind, it’s available for download or on CD here.

* Though I recall an early Doctor Who Monthly summer or winter special including the Master in a guide to the companions.

** Apart from a few minor rewrites of The Oseidon Adventure.

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