The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Another blog! This time about the recent release of The Worlds of Doctor Who, which includes an episode written by me, The Screaming Skull. The Worlds of Doctor Who commemorates fifteen years of Big Finish Doctor Who adventures, so it was quite an honour to be invited to contribute. I was there, back at the start, at the Sirens of Time launch party which I remember being downstairs in The Corner Store (so it was probably somewhere else). My main memory of the night is having a long chat with Gary Russell about writing a story for Big Finish with Sea Devils in; this may even have been when I was asked to write it. Apart from Gary, I think the only other people I knew at the party were Paul Cornell and Justin Richards (I remember reading the first few pages of Red Dawn). I was a complete newcomer to fandom back then, a bit of a Jonny no-mates. I also recall being terribly impressed and intimidated by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, not daring to eavesdrop on their terribly important conversation. But maybe I’m mixing things up? It was all a long time ago, and I was very, very drunk.

Anyway, if you’d told me back then that I’d still be writing for Big Finish fifteen years later, I’d have been grateful for having someone else to talk to, but would question why your remarkable powers of prophecy weren’t being put to more constructive use. But here I am, fifteen years later, looking barely a week older, writing a story for their anniversary.

The Screaming Skull is the third part of a sequence of adventures, a story in its own right but also an episode of a longer adventure. It features the characters of Ruth Matheson and Charlie Sato, who previously appeared in the Companion Chronicles Tales from the Vault and Mastermind, and also features the return of the eponymous UNIT vault. It could be considered the third part in a ‘Vault’ trilogy but that might imply you need to have heard the first two stories to understand the third; that’s absolutely not the case. It’s only a trilogy in the sense that if you have all three stories you should probably listen to them in the right order. But you don’t even have to do that if you don’t want to.

As far as I was concerned (but in no official sense) my story would be representing the Companion Chronicles range, and there was some discussion about which companion we could use. It needed to be part of the UNIT team, I wanted to write for a companion I hadn’t written for before, so I suggested using Mike Yates, as his life after Doctor Who hadn’t been explored in any great depth in previous releases. My intention with the story was to write something intimate and claustrophobic, with plenty of room for atmosphere, suspense and character. I’d been watching a lot of episodes of Brian Clemens’ Thriller around the same time so I suspect that may have rubbed off.

Unfortunately I can’t really tell you any more without spoiling any surprises there may or may not be. Having attended the recording and listened to the finished release, I can tell you it sounds terrific, I’m absolutely delighted with it, and Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso give their best performances yet. And Jamie Glover is spine-chilling as the sinister Mr Rees. At the recent Big Finish Day convention I signed a few copies and the box set looks stunning. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.

And that’s the one thing that hasn’t changed in the last fifteen years. I was so thrilled and excited to be asked by Gary Russell to write that Sea Devil story way back then, and that feeling hasn’t diminished, I still feel as thrilled and excited to be asked to write stories now. And I was so proud of the finished product, seeing the CD sleeve with my name on it, and listening to the actors, director, sound designer and incidental music composer bringing my words to life, and that’s as true now as it was then too. So proud to be working for Big Finish, and so grateful to be asked.

The Worlds of Doctor Who can be ordered here.

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