The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Child Psychology




As you’ll know if you follow me on twitter, the Big Finish websitehas been updated with the cover and details for my forthcoming Doctor Who audio Psychodrome, featuring Peter Davison as the Doctor, Janet Fielding as Tegan, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and the legendary Matthew Waterhouse as the no less-mythical Adric. The story is hard to describe without giving away ‘spoilers’; I would say, however, that it is almost completely unlike any other Doctor Who story there has ever been, and yet it shares motifs with a number of other stories, and that it is probably by most ‘experimental’ Doctor Who story since, oh, Flip-Flop. That’s not to say my other stories aren’t experimental, I’d say that nearly every single one is an experiment, or an attempt to innovate, in one way or another. But Psychodrome is out there. In the past I’ve written stories that are ‘tributes’ to Douglas Adams, Robert Holmes, Eric Saward (as well as Charles Dickens, PG Wodehouse, MR James, Philip K Dick, Mary Shelley, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Arthur Conan Doyle). Well, Psychodrome is a tribute to the mind-expanding inspiration of Christopher H Bidmead.

It was a strange and wonderful experience, listening to the story being recorded, hearing the same cast that I’d been watching on telly back when I was seven saying words that I’d written, thirty-odd years later. If I could go back and tell my seven-year-old self, he’d be amazed.

Actually, no, he wouldn’t. He’d say:

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Hang on, back up a bit. You can time travel?”

ME: “For the purposes of this hypothetical conversation, yes.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “And you’ve travelled back in time to tell me that you write Doctor Who stories?”

ME: “Well, yes. I thought you’d be pleased, and impressed.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Well, to be honest, I’d kind of hoped my career would pan out a bit better, but that’s not the issue. No, the issue is the fact that you have the ability to move in the fourth dimension, and you use that ability to tell your younger self that you write Doctor Who stories. Rather than, say, preventing the tragic murder of John Lennon, which happened last year.”

ME: “I’ll get to that next, I just thought...”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Or you could be telling me something useful about my own future, like, I don’t know, how to avoid future injuries, or if I’ll ever get a girlfriend and whether it will work out.”

ME: “Don’t go there, you don’t want to know, seriously.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Or maybe some good investment information. I mean, it’s 1981 now, what’s going to be hot thirty-odd years from now? What should I be buying shares in? Are computers going to be big?”

ME: “I can’t really say, you know, wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Are you having a stroke, old man?”

ME: “No. It’s... an expression we use in the future.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Sounds a bit childish if you ask me.”

ME: “Anyway, point is, I can’t tell you without causing a potential time paradox, unravelling the web of time, all that stuff.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “But telling me I will write Doctor Who stories featuring the current-line up thirty years in the future won’t jeopardise the web of time?”

ME: “Probably not, no.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “But it might.”

ME: “I suppose so. To be honest, I was in such a rush to pop back and give you the good news, I didn’t really think it through.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Because you could be changing the whole course of history by telling me this. It could mean that, I don’t know, when you get back to 2014 there will be terrible storms and stuff.”

ME: “Funny you should say that.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “I mean, if I had a time machine, I wouldn’t go back and talk to my younger self. You’ve got all of history to explore. You could see the future. You could even talk to your future self. Get some career advice, it sounds as if you will need it.”

ME: “I’m beginning to regret this whole conversation now, to be honest. I’d forgotten I used to be such an obnoxious know-it-all.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “So, anyway, let me get this straight. In thirty-odd years’ time, you do, as a job, what I do, as a hobby?”

ME: “More or less, though I wouldn’t call it a job as such...”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “But you do it professionally?”

ME: “Yes.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Well, that is quite impressive, actually. Well done.”

ME: “Thank you.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “And these stories, with the Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, they put them on the telly?”

ME: “No.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Oh.”

ME: “There’s an audio company that – ”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Yeah, yeah, whatever. So, do you still write everything out in pencil and staple the pages together at the end?”

ME: “No, it’s all typing. I wouldn’t bother with handwriting, you’ll never use it, it’s a complete waste of time.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “But you do get to do stapling?”

ME: “Not really, no.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “But that’s the best bit!”

ME: “I know, but it just doesn’t come up as often as it did. Anyway, it’s time I should be returning to the future, I’ve got a deadline.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “You have a time machine and still can’t hit deadlines? So tell me something about the future. There must be something else going on as well as you writing Doctor Who stories. Who’s the Prime Minister? Do we have a moonbase? Have they brought back Blake’s Seven?”

ME: “You don’t even like Blake’s Seven. You think it’s jejune.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “What about Sapphire & Steel? I assume Doctor Who is still going, right?”

ME: “Yes, it is, but I can’t tell you anymore, because, you know, spoilers.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “What are ‘spoilers’?”

ME: “They’re a thing we have in the future, to tell you anymore would ruin the surprise. Anyway, see you, younger self.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Yeah, sod off, baldy.”

ME: “And just remember, keep plugging away and writing Doctor Who stories, because then one day, you will turn out to be me.”

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD-ME: “Yeah. I think I might see if I can become a professional Lego builder instead.”

Psychodrome can be ordered here as part of The Fifth Doctor Box Set.

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