The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Smoke And Mirrors


More deleted scenes. It’s only just occurred to me that I seem to have missed doing a ‘deleted’ scenes for The Haunting of Thomas Brewster, written in October 2007 (over eight years ago!) and released in April 2008 (nearly eight years ago!). As usual, please don't read the deleted scenes if you have not already bought and listened to the story.

Note: director Barnaby Edwards' very interesting production notes on the story can also be read here.

The main thing to bear in mind with the script for this is that it was originally written in Final Draft, and then reformatted/exported to word. So it wasn’t in the normal Big Finish script format, it was in a movie format. As a result, the first draft looked as though episode one was far too long when in fact it was probably a bit short; I then edited it down further and that’s why episode one of the released story is so short (and why it seems to have more music than usual, in order to pad it out). Ah well. You live and learn; in my case, I learned that it would probably be a good idea to write in the Big Finish script format in future. I’d also made the mistake of including far too long/detailed descriptions; lovely for a movie or TV script, but not a good idea for audio.

For instance, this was the first page:

1. INT. PARLOUR

AFTER TITLES, WE OPEN WITH A NARRATION FROM THOMAS BREWSTER. BREWSTER IS 18, UNEDUCATED, LONDON EAST-END/COCKNEY ACCENT. HE'S LIVED A LIFE OF HARD KNOCKS, AND HAS A DISRESPECTFUL ATTITUDE, A TEENAGER'S SWAGGER, SLY, GUARDED, CASUAL AND AGGRESSIVE. THINK A YOUNG PHIL DANIELS.

BREWSTER
The first thing I remember is my mother's funeral. I would've been about four or five, it's kind of hard to judge when you ain't had no birthdays. But there I was, in this dark parlour, with all these aunts and uncles and God knows what else.

AS BREWSTER SPEAKS, WE BEGIN TO HEAR THE SOUNDS OF THE FUNERAL WAKE - AUNTS AND UNCLES CHATTING, COUGHING, DRINKS, THE TICKING OF A GRANDFATHER CLOCK. OUTSIDE, HAWKERS, TRADERS, HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGES.

BREWSTER (CONT'D)
I can still see the room, clear, like it was yesterday. The wallpaper, it had this pattern of roses. And, and there were these heavy curtains - I spent half the day hiding in 'em, not wanting to be seen. It had this musty smell, like tobacco, moth balls - old folks smells. And in the middle of it all was my dearly departed mother, laid out in a box.

WE'RE NOW IN THE PARLOUR. AUNTS MEG AND LILIAN TWO ARE BOTH IN THEIR SIXTIES, AS IS HIS UNCLE TOBY, WHO IS GRIZZLY AND TIPSY, AND COUGHING AND EXHALING AS THOUGH SMOKING THROUGHOUT

So what was cut or changed between the first and second drafts? Let’s see what Word’s ‘Compare’ function has found and move into the world of italics...

Well, not that much. Odd words and sentences. And the end of this scene, scene 7, which was cut:

DOCTOR
The boy, Brewster, has he mentioned having any... bad dreams at all?

SHANKS
Bad dreams?

NYSSA
Supernatural nocturnal visitations-

DOCTOR
Ghosts, voices, hallucinations -

SHANKS
I see. You intend to waste my time with... trifles and absurdities-

DOCTOR
Mr Shanks, you have to help us. The future of the human race depends on it!

SHANKS
Indeed?

DOCTOR
This boy is of crucial importance to the history of this planet. Something is coming for him, Mr Shanks... Something terrible...

DOOR OPENS AND THE CONVERSATION GETS CLEARER.

SHANKS
Mr Scroggins, if you will escort these two... personages from the premises. Good-day to you both-

DOOR OPENS AGAIN AND A BOY'S FEET ARE RUNNING.

SHANKS (CONT'D)
Brewster!

The other main difference is that the character of Creek was originally called Cripps. I’d written him for Andy Hamilton to play, fact fans, and he was actually cast for the part but was unwell on the day of recording.

This bit was cut because... well, reading it now, I don’t understand what Pickens is on about it, so it was probably because of that!

BREWSTER
Mr Cripps said you'd cut me putty and soap, I don't know-

PICKENS
Cheese and bread. Help yourself, there's pie and beer for afters.

BREWSTER
Thanks... thank you, sir...

DURING THIS, BREWSTER STARTS EATING HUNGRILY

PICKENS
I'm not 'sir', we're all the same down here. Well, except for those of us that's slightly better.

The following bit was revised, as director Barnaby Edwards helpfully pointed out that Tower Bridge hadn’t been built at the time the story was set! That old ‘historical accuracy’ problem!

THE BOYS RUN ON. DISTANT FOG HORNS SOUND AGAIN. RATS.

BREWSTER (NARRATION) (CONT'D)
We weren't alone on the banks that night - slithering around us were dozens and dozens of rats. It was the best I could do not to slip, my boots sinking into the ooze, not being able to see nothing but the misty lights of Tower Bridge...

PICKENS
Brewster, the good stuff's all down at the shoreline, not up there-

One thing I was keen on in writing this story was to get in as much authentic Victorian slang as possible; even if you don’t know what the words mean it’s obvious what they mean from their context. Maybe I went a bit far with it, but, well, I was eager to show off! As demonstrated in this next bit:

CRIPPS
Brewster? Now, let me think - there was a kinchin, while ago, mind you - tipped his rags he did, piked off -

DOCTOR
You're saying he's left?

CRIPPS
And done me out of pocket!

DOCTOR
Right. Well, Mr Cripps, if you do see Brewster again... I am prepared to make it worth your while...

CRIPPS
What?

DOCTOR
Compensated for your trouble. Say, twenty pounds?

CRIPPS
Twenty and a finny?

DOCTOR
If you can locate him in the next hour, yes. Time is of the essence-

CRIPPS
I'll see what I can do. What you want him for? In trouble is he?

NYSSA
We can't really say-

DOCTOR
It's more that he'll be in trouble if we don't find him...

A little moment of violence that got cut/rewritten:

CRIPPS
You'll do as you're asked, boy!

BREWSTER
No- !

CRIPPS
No-one leaves my gang... except in the manner of my choosing!

THERE IS THE SOUND OF SOMEONE FALLING AGAINST A CASE WHICH SMASHES. THE CONTENTS THUMP HEAVILY TO THE FLOOR.

CRIPPS (CONT'D)
Aaah - come back - !

RUNNING ACROSS WOODEN FLOOR. SHOP DOOR OPENS, BELL JANGLES

CRIPPS (CONT'D)
I'll get you, you little prig!

CRIPPS, USING HIS STICK AS A CRUTCH, GIVES CHASE

Onto episode two... and not much seems to have been cut at all. This scene, in which we discover a time machine based on the same principles as the one in The Evil of the Daleks, was rewritten a bit, losing Nyssa’s marvellously melodramatic closing line.

PICKENS
It's like he's built a whole lighthouse down here - 

A CRACKLE OF ELECTRICITY. PICKENS IS INJURED - OUCH!

PICKENS (CONT'D)
It's electric-

NYSSA
He's using the mirrors and the lenses to focus the static charge-

PICKENS
What?

THE WIND BECOMES A ROAR AS THE MACHINE GOES INTO OVERDRIVE. 

NYSSA
The powers he's harnessing are far in advance of human technology!

The end of episode two was different – in draft two some business establishing that Brewster was frozen to the spot was added, originally it was shorter and simpler:

PICKENS
What are those things?

NYSSA
I don't know-

PICKENS
Demons... or imps... or goblins...

NYSSA
They seem to be... composed of smoke. A sort of... living smoke!

PICKENS
It's the dead! Spirits of the dead!

THE STRANGE HISSING, GURGLING LAUGHING CREATURES ARE EVERYWHERE NOW, WHOOSHING ROUND AND ROUND THE STEREO IMAGE.

THERE IS A SUDDEN, LOUD, VENOMOUS, HISS. AND PICKENS STARTS TO COUGH. AND SPUTTER. AND CHOKE. HE'S SUFFOCATING. 

HE WHEEZES, AGONISINGLY.

NYSSA SCREAMS -

MOTHER
Welcome... to the future! Welcome to the year two thousand and eight!


This bit from part three wasn’t cut but I like it so much I’m going to put it here anyway. It’s based on an idea for a Doctor Who story I had back when I was a teenager, the idea of the present being invaded by a potential future. Back then, it was all set in a shopping centre at night, though...

DOCTOR
Of course! By their own bootstraps!

MCINTOSH
Sorry, did you say 'bootstraps'?

DOCTOR
They're pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps!

NYSSA
You mean, an ontological time-loop?

MCINTOSH
No, not following, I'm afraid -

BREWSTER
I was with you as far as "bootstraps".

DOCTOR
Explain, Nyssa.

NYSSA
In a quantum universe, all futures are possible, though some are more probable than others. Now, one of those futures must be one in which these creatures control the Earth.

MCINTOSH
That's a possibility?

NYSSA
A very remote one. But, if in that future, they have the capacity to send information back through time -

DOCTOR
- for instance, instructions on how to buildcreate a time corridor -

NYSSA
They can then use that time corridor to travel back into the past, to influence events so that the future, in which they occupy the Earth, becomes more likely.

DOCTOR
And the more likely it becomes... the greater their presence in this time! So what was once just a possibility, becomes a probability -

NYSSA
...which becomes a certainty. They invade the past, in order to create the future from which they invaded the past. It's perfectly logical.

BREWSTER
I was with you as far as "bootstraps".

Originally the Doctor had more of a reaction to Robert’s death, but this whole scene got cut because it was slowing down the action (they are being attacked by smoke monsters at this point).

50. INT. LIVING ROOM.

NYSSA AND BREWSTER RUN IN. 

NYSSA
Doctor -!

DOCTOR DISTANT, APPROACHING THROUGH DOOR.

DOCTOR
What is it? 

BREWSTER
Those things - they've got in - they're using the chimneys -

DOCTOR
Where's Robert?

NYSSA
He's dead, Doctor.

DOCTOR
What! 

BREWSTER
It wasn't my fault, they were too fleet, (too many) -

DOCTOR
What did you do to him, Brewster?

BREWSTER
I couldn't save him, that doesn't mean I wanted him choked...

NYSSA
He died saving our lives, Doctor.

DOCTOR
Of course, that's very like him... the poor fellow. I seem to make a habit of underestimating people... and losing good friends.

HISS OF APPROACHING CREATURE DOWN FIREPLACE.

NYSSA
Listen, Doctor!

THE CREATURE IS GROWING LOUDER

BREWSTER
I know these kens. The fireplaces are all joined by flue pipes to the same chimney - it can follow us -

DOCTOR
Right. Everybody - upstairs!

Onto part four, and again, hardly anything cut got! Here’s a couple of lines that did, a bit too say-what-you-see:

NYSSA
I'm more concerned that this bridge will give way... it's half rotten - 

DOCTOR
Here, I've got you -

THEY ARE ACROSS THE GANGPLANK. THE SMOKE CREATURES BEGIN TO MAKE THEIR PRESENCE HEARD.

NYSSA
There are dead things down there.

And finally, and interestingly, because I have no memory of this, here’s the original ending, in which the Doctor and Nyssa leave with Brewster rather than being left behind by him. No idea how this came about or why it was changed!

82. INT. STUDY

DOOR OPENS AS THE DOCTOR AND NYSSA RUSH IN - TO HEAR THE FAMILIAR TARDIS DEMATERIALIZATION SOUND.

DOCTOR
I don't believe it! He's done it again!

TARDIS SOUND FADES, LEAVING SILENCE SAVE FOR THE TICKING OF THE CLOCK.

NYSSA
No - wait - -

AND, SURE ENOUGH, THE TARDIS SOUND RETURNS - AND IT LANDS WITH A RESOUNDING 'CRUMP'. THE TARDIS DOOR SWINGS OPEN.

DOCTOR
Brewster- !

BREWSTER
I was just thinking... it's kind of lonely in there, travelling through time and stuff on my own, and I thought you might like to join me.

DOCTOR
We might like to join you?

BREWSTER
As my companions, like.

DOCTOR
As your companions!

BREWSTER
Hey, it was just a thought. You don't have to if you don't want to -

NYSSA
What do you think, Doctor? It's quite an offer! "Companions"...!

DOCTOR
Very well! Welcome aboard, Thomas Brewster.

VOICES MUFFLED AS THEY STEP INSIDE. DOOR SHUTS.

DOCTOR (CONT'D)
But let's get one thing straight - I do all the driving -

BREWSTER
Yeah, whatever you say -

DOCTOR
So don't touch (that switch) !

BUT IT'S TOO LATE. THE TARDIS HAS TAKEN OFF...

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