The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Faster Than The Speed Of Night

Another feature from the archives... a piece originally written for The Complete Fifth Doctor magazine published back in 2002.


When I was 8 I wrote Doctor Who stories and fill up notebooks with page after page of illegible pencil. Originality, however, was not my strong point. Each story consisted of my favourite bits from the books, annuals, comics and the TV show, plus the latest facts I had committed to memory from Doctor Who Monthly. They concentrated on the things that fascinated me; spaceships, robots and monsters. And, more often than not, the resulting stories were a lot like Four To Doomsday.

Starting was easy. One of the first things I had learned from the books was that all Doctor Who stories begin with the TARDIS landing somewhere which at first appears to be deserted. The Doctor and his companions should then split up to explore and discover it is not as deserted as it at first appeared. Simple.

Characterisation was more of a problem. The Doctor had just changed and I had no idea how Peter Davidson would play the role. So I just wrote him as Tristram from All Creatures Great And Small, although half the time he would still talk and act like Tom Baker.

I was also unfamiliar with the companions, so I wrote them with one character trait each. Adric liked maths. Nyssa liked pointing out what machines were called. And Tegan was unaccountably cross and thought everybody was mad.

Monsters were important. On TV they had given up doing proper monsters and just made the baddies men with beards. This was, I felt, wrong. The baddy should be a green, slimy monster. Called something like the Master, but not the Master. Monarch!

Doctor Who facts were exciting. I loved them. So I had to stick in mentions for Gallifrey, Artron energy, the Master, Rassilon and the Eye Of Harmony even though they had nothing to do with the story. Someone had written in to Matrix Data Bank asking for a list of rooms in the TARDIS; so Adric would proclaim that the TARDIS contains ‘…a power room, a bathroom, even cloisters!’ [to which Monarch would reply, ‘That’s nice, dear’ like a long-suffering parent].

Jokes were important too. Luckily I had just seen a Benny Hill in which he played a funny Chinaman. ‘I am Lin Futu’. ‘Well, I’d never have guessed it, you look in the best of health to me’.

The story was, by necessity, made up as it went along. For the first episode, it would be about spaceships. Then I would grow bored of that and make it about robots. Then it would be about people floating in space. Eventually I’d find myself half-way down the twelfth page and it would be time to start thinking about an ending. The monster could shrink, like in The Sun Makers! Excellent. I had my story.

Of course, it made no sense. Monarch needs to breathe air except in the first episode when he doesn’t. The spaceship is going back and forth to Urbanka to collect humans, but later on it transpires that Urbanka was destroyed and the baddies want to invade the Earth. How do they intend to do this? They plan to use Adric to persuade the people of Earth to let them take over. Why do they want to invade the Earth? Because…er…because its mineral wealth will allow Monarch to travel in time. Right.

So I think it is fair to say that I, as an 8 year-old, would have written something quite like Four To Doomsday. But that is not a criticism. Not at all. That is praise. Because Four To Doomsday is exactly the sort of Doctor Who story I wanted to watch, a story which catered perfectly to my tastes and obsessions… Spaceships, robots and monsters.