The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Here Comes The Night

Very quick update...
  

There’s a cover and trailer for my forthcoming Doctor Who story Chase The Night, starring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, Matthew Waterhouse, John Leeson and JANE ASHER. Yes, Jane Asher, of The Quatermass Xperiment, The Stone Tape, Wish Me Luck and countless other things. I was at the recording to hear her; she really got her teeth into the role!

The story can be pre-ordered here, and the trailer can be heard here (from 1 min 10 secs in). There’s also a press release about it here.


There’s also a new edition of Doctor Who Magazine in the shops now. A special Christmas edition, I’ve compiled the annual Christmas quiz. I’m particularly proud of this question:


 I've also got a piece on The Curse of Fatal Death in the upcoming 2020 Yearbook. More on that, next time!

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Pastime Paradise

One of my pet projects over the past few years has been trying to work out which Doctor Who scripts exist. After all, if you’re writing an article for Doctor Who Magazine, or a book for The Black Archive, it helps to know what is out there. So I’ve put together a rough guide.

(Please note: just because I know that a script exists doesn’t mean I have it or have access to it. But many if not all of these scripts are becoming more widely available on the season-by-season blu-ray releases, and all the scripts for missing 1960s episodes were included in the soundtrack CD box sets.)

The 1960s
Doctor Who is remarkable in that scripts exist for every single one of its episodes. Other series, like Z-Cars, are nowhere near as fortunate. The preservation of Doctor Who scripts is due to several things; the Doctor Who production office maintaining a complete collection of scripts, the BBC Script Library/Written Archive retaining copies of scripts and production files, and fans from the 1970s onwards being illustrious and diligent in acquiring copies of scripts. 

There are two main types of scripts. Rehearsal scripts, the scripts which were sent out to actors and taken into rehearsals, and the camera scripts, which are revised versions of the rehearsal scripts modified and annotated by the director with shot-by-shot instructions for the camera operators, vision mixer, cues for sound effects, details like where recording breaks should be, as well as a schedule for the day of recording, a scene-by-scene breakdown, and a list of cast and crew.

 A rehearsal script:


 A camera script:


The good news is that camera scripts exist for almost every Doctor Who episode of the 1960s. The only episodes without camera scripts are The Daleks 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7, Planet of Giants 1 and The Invasion 6, but rehearsal scripts exist for all these episodes. The camera scripts for both the pilot episode and its remounted version exist. Regarding the remount of The Daleks 1, as far as I can tell they just used the camera script from the first attempt again. For Planet of Giants, parts 3 and 4 of the 4-part version exist, as well as a version of episode 3 with them combined.

Camera scripts tend to be very close to the episodes as broadcast. Rehearsal scripts, however, give you a chance to see an earlier iteration of the story, before changes made during rehearsals. They sometimes contain lines that were changed, or scenes that were cut. The BBC tend to have only kept camera scripts (as they were being kept as a record of the episodes as broadcast), so what rehearsal scripts exist tend to do so because they were kept by the writers, cast members or members of the production team.

Rehearsal scripts exist for various odd episodes, including the Dennis Spooner-scripted episodes of The Daleks’ Masterplan, the final episode of The Tenth Planet, plus six episodes of Marco Polo (retained by Director Waris Hussein) and all of The Web of Fear (recently sold at auction). Some rehearsal scripts that were auctioned at conventions during the 1980s have, sadly, since disappeared.

Finally, there are also draft scripts; the scripts as delivered to the production team by the writer, which may be very, very different indeed to what was ultimately broadcast. Terry Nation seems to have retained all his draft scripts from the 1960s except The Keys of Marinus and Mission to the Unknown. I believe that Victor Pemberton may have also retained his draft scripts for Fury from the Deep.

What about the stories that didn’t get made, I hear you ask. Well, as a general rule of thumb, you can tell what exists by which unmade stories have had synopses printed in Doctor Who Magazine or Doctor Who Bulletin, and which have been adapted into Lost Stories audio adventures by Big Finish. So, if there’s a story which has never had its synopsis printed anywhere, such as Malcolm Hulke’s The Hidden Planet, you can be pretty sure that’s because it doesn’t exist anywhere.

The 1970s
As far as I can tell camera scripts exist for everything from the 1970s. Rehearsal scripts exist for odd episodes and odd stories, and then for everything from Destiny of the Daleks onwards. Towards the end of the decade there are also transmission scripts; the camera scripts edited to match what was broadcast.  

There aren’t many draft scripts known to exist, although there are various versions of The Pirate Planet in the Douglas Adams archive at St John’s College, Cambridge (see James Goss’ novelisation for details).

The 1980s
As far as I can gather, rehearsal scripts, camera scripts and transmission scripts (aka ‘programme as broadcast’ scripts) exist for almost everything. Drafts of Warriors’ Gate and Terminus exist in the Stephen Gallagher archive at the University of Hull and, of course, Robert Holmes’ version of The Trial of Time Lord 13 and Eric Saward’s version of The Trial of a Time Lord 14 exist and are included on the Season 23 blu-ray.

The 1990s
Various drafts and the shooting script of the TV movie exist, as does a shooting script for The Curse of Fatal Death. I’m not going to discuss scripts from the 2000s; that’s a whole different thing!

So what is missing? Well, as the BBC’s Script Library’s remit was only to keep copies of scripts for reference of what was made and broadcast, any earlier drafts were usually discarded. As far as I know, the following scripts no longer exist in any archive or private collection. If you know otherwise, please let me know!

John Lucarotti’s original version of The Massacre
Brian Hayles and Donald Tosh’s original version(s) of The Celestial Toymaker
David Whitaker’s original versions of parts 1 and 2 of The Evil of the Daleks
Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln’s original version of part 5 of The Dominators (they never got as far as part 6)
David Whitaker’s original versions of parts 1, 2 and 3 of The Ambassadors of Death
Bob Baker and Dave Martin’s original version of The Three Doctors featuring Jamie
John Lucarotti’s original version of The Ark in Space (status uncertain)
Lewis Greiffer’s original version of Pyramids of Mars (a synopsis exists)
Terrance Dicks’ original version of The Brain of Morbius
Bob Baker and Dave Martin’s 6-part version of The Hand of Fear (a synopsis exists)
Terrance Dicks’ 1977 version of State of Decay
David Fisher’s original version of City of Death (The Gamble with Time, a synopsis exists)
Terrance Dicks’ original version of The Five Doctors with the fourth Doctor having a major role
Eric Saward’s 1982 version of Resurrection of the Daleks

Saturday, 16 November 2019

You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)

Brief update.

Out now (well, out yesterday) my 2008 Doctor Who story Max Warp has been made available on vinyl, exclusively from ASDA. People have been picking up copies and posting pics to twitter. It’s all been rather surreal, like being haunted by a time capsule. This must be what pop stars feel like whenever an old album is reissued. I don’t really remember writing it, but my name is on it so I suppose I must’ve done!


Anyway, there’s a proper press release/announcement here.

And a list of ASDAs which may still have copies still in stock (it’s a limited edition) here.


Also out now (well, out yesterday), there’s a new issue of Doctor Who Magazine with a few bits by me in it. There’s another of The Blogs of Doom, there are the answer to last issue’s quiz, and I’ve also contributed a few hundred words on Genesis of the Daleks, in which I argue that it should be considered as part of the wave of 1970s TV dramas about the events of World War II, and take a quick look at the draft script. Obviously this is something I could go on about at length! As it is, I forgot to even mention the Daleks...


Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Forever in my Life

The next issue of Doctor Who Magazine, hitting the shelves tomorrow, is a special edition celebrating forty years of the magazine. Forty years! It seems only thirty-nine and a half years ago that my mum brought home issue 26 to see if I’d prefer it to The Dandy. A year later – it took a while to get our newsagent to place an order – I became a regular reader with issue 55. And it’s kind of been a part of my life ever since, apart from that brief seven-year-period where I’d given up on Doctor Who. Bad fan!


Anyway, you don’t care about that, you want to know what’s in the magazine. Well, all sorts of loveliness, there’s even a free DVD, and on top of that there’s three bits by me. Firstly, a piece investigating how fan opinion of television stories has changed over the past four decades, according to Doctor Who Magazine’s readers’ polls. For this, I pulled out every past issue with any sort of poll and subjected it to rigorous statistical analysis. My favourite part of the article, though, is a box-out on Fifty-Six Years of Turkeys.


There’s also a few words from me on Terrance Dicks’ Doctor Who novel Made of Steel, and then there’s a quiz on the magazine at the end. It’s a no-prizes quiz, just to please, to entertain, to please the readers. I’m particularly proud of questions 37, 38 and 41 which made me hoot with laughter when I thought of them. It’s just a bit of celebratory fun, so I hope it amuses.


In other news, next month one of my Doctor Who audio stories, Max Warp, is going to be released as an LP. On vinyl! Exclusive to ASDA, everyone’s favourite supermarket. It’s very exciting to be available in a new medium. The story itself is one of my favourites, I’m still amazed to think that I’ve written for Graeme Garden, James Fleet and Duncan from Blue, as well as Sheridan Smith and Paul McGann. At the time I’d spent a few years plugging away in the lower reaches of comedy-land so I was very much in a comedy mode, writing lots of witty lines and silly business. It also marked a return to Big Finish after a few years, so I was also in showing-off-what-I-can-do mode as I felt I had something to prove. A mode in which I have steadfastly remained ever since.


Lots of people have said very many lovely things about it, so if you have a record player, or even if you don’t, why not pick it up when it turns up in ASDA on November 15.You can find out more about it here.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Sci-Fi


Just for fun, and my own reference – a list of science fiction films I’ve seen, based on the 1985 Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies (which includes things like James Bond films and some fantasy movies etc but doesn’t include stuff like Carry on Spying, Somewhere in Time and Ghostbusters) and then wikipedia. There may be a few I've forgotten - when modern films have titles like Transcendence and Advantageous it's hard to remember what the hell they were about!)

 
1926
Metropolis
1936
Things to Come
1951
The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Man in the White Suit, The Thing, When Worlds Collide
1953
Invaders from Mars, It Came from Outer Space, War of the Worlds
1954
20,000 Leagues under the Sea
1955
This Island Earth
1956
Earth versus the Flying Saucers, Forbidden Planet, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1984, Plan 9 from Outer Space
1957
The Incredible Shrinking Man
1960
The Time Machine, Village of the Damned
1961
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
1962
Doctor No
1963
The Birds, The Day of the Triffids, La Jetee
1964
Doctor Strangelove, First Men in the Moon, Goldfinger
1965
Alphaville, Dr Who and the Daleks, Thunderball, The War Game
1966
Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD, Fahrenheit 451, Fantastic Voyage
1967
Barbarella, Casino Royale, Quatermass and the Pit, The Terrornauts, You Only Live Twice
1968
Charly, Planet of the Apes, 2001-A Space Odyssey
1969
The Bed Sitting Room, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Zeta One
1970
The Andromeda Strain
1971
A Clockwork Orange, Diamonds are Forever, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Percy, Silent Running, Solaris
1972
Doomwatch, Slaughterhouse Five
1973
The Final Programme, Sleeper, Soylent Green, Westworld, Zardoz
1974
The Cars That Ate Paris, Dark Star, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Stepford Wives, The Terminal Man
1975
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rollerball
1976
At the Earth’s Core, The Big Bus, Futureworld, The Killer Bees, Logan’s Run, The Man Who Fell to Earth
1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Demon Seed, Empire of the Ants, The Glitterball, The Spy Who Loved Me, Star Wars
1978
The Boys from Brazil, Coma, A Hitch in Time, Pirahna, Superman, The Swarm
1979
Alien, The Black Hole, Mad Max, Meteor, Moonraker, Star Trek, Starcrash
1980
The Apple, Battle Beyond the stars, The Empire Strikes Back, Flash Gordon, Saturn 3, Scanners, Superman II
1981
Escape from New York, Mad Max 2, Outland, Piranha II, Time Bandits
1982
Airplane II, Blade Runner, ET, The Wrath of Khan, The Thing, Tron, Videodrome
1983
Krull, The Man With Two Brains, Never Say Never Again, Return of the Jedi, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, Superman III, War Games
1984
The Brother from Another Planet, Dune, Night of the Comet, 1984, Repo Man, Search for Spock, Starman, Terminator, 2010
1985
Back to the Future, Brazil, Cocoon, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Morons from Outer Space, Weird Science
1986
Aliens, Critters, The Fly, Howard the Duck, Short Circuit, Star Trek IV
1987
Batteries Not Included, Predator, RoboCop, The Running Man, Spaceballs
1988
Akira, Moonwalker
1989
The Abyss, Back to the Future II, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Ghostbusters II, Star Trek V
1990
Back to the Future III, Gremlins 2, The Handmaid’s Tale, Hardware, Total Recall
1991
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Star Trek 6, Terminator 2, Wedlock
1992
Alien 3, The Lawnmower Man
1993
Jurassic Park
1994
Stargate, Star Trek Generations
1995
The City of Lost Children, Congo, GoldenEye, Judge Dredd, Screamers, 12 Monkeys
1996
Independence Day, Mars Attacks!, Star Trek: First Contact
1997
Cube, Event Horizon, The Fifth Element, Gattaca, The Lost World, Men in Black, Starship Troopers
1998
Dark City, Pi, Sphere, Star Trek: Insurrection
1999
eXistenZ, Galaxy Quest, The Matrix, Muppets from Space, The Phantom Menace
2000
Pitch Black, Unbreakable
2001
AI, Donnie Darko, Jurassic Park III
2002
28 Days Later, Equilibrium, Impostor, Minority Report, Solaris, Spider-Man, Star Trek: Nemesis, Attack of the Clones, The Time Machine
2003
Paycheck, Terminator 3, Timeline
2004
The Day After Tomorrow, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2005
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Robots, Serenity, Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds
2006
A Scanner Darkly, Children of Men, The Host, Southland Tales, Superman Returns, V for Vendetta
2007
28 Weeks Later, I Am Legend, The Mist, Next, Sunshine
2008
Cloverfield, Iron Man, The Clone Wars, WALL-E
2009
2012, Avatar, District 9, Frequently Asked Question About Time Travel, Moon, Star Trek, The Time Traveler’s Wife
2010
Despicable Me, Hot Tub Time Machine, Monsters, Never Let Me Go, Tron Legacy
2011
The Adjustment Bureau, Attack the Block, In Time, Limitless, Paul, Source Code, Super 8, Thor
2012
Cloud Atlas, Dredd, The Hunger Games, John Carter, Looper, Prometheus, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
2013
Elysium, Ender’s Game Gravity, Her, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Oblivion, Snowpiercer, Star Trek Into Darkness, The World’s End, Under the Skin, The Zero Theorem
2014
Coherence, Divergent, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1, Interstellar, Lucy, The Maze Runner, Mr Peabody & Sherman, Predestination, Transcendence
2015
Advantageous, Insurgent, EX Machina, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 2, Jupiter Ascending, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, The Force Awakens, Tomorrowland
2016
10 Cloverfield Lane, Allegiant, Arrival, Rogue One, Star Trek Beyond
2017
Blade Runner 2049, The Last Jedi
2018
Annihilation, The Cloverfield Paradox, Mortal Engines, Mute, Solo
2019:
The Wandering Earth

Not seen as far as I can remember, but would like to see:
The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them!, The Quatermass Xperiment, X The Unknown, The Abominable Snowman, Quatermass II, The Fly (original), Journey to the Centre of the Earth, On The Beach, The Little Shop of Horrors (original), The Damned, Children of the Damned, Je T’aime Je T’aime, The Forbin Project, No Blade of Grass, THX 1138, Quest for Love, It’s Alive, Phase IV, Young Frankenstein, Death Race 2000, Capricorn One, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The China Syndrome, Time After Time, Altered States, Halloween III, The Last Starfighter, Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars (1986), Innerspace, Alien Nation, Earth Girls Are Easy, Millennium, Slipstream, Naked Lunch, The Rocketeer, Timecop, Tank Girl, Waterworld, Barb Wire, Contact, I Robot, Primer, 9, Upside Down, Pacific Rim, The Anomaly, Time Lapse, Ad Astra, Io

Thursday, 26 September 2019

The Man I Used To Be


Out last week, and available in a few good newsagents across the UK, the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine has a couple of articles by me in it. Firstly, there’s another instalment of The Blogs of Doom, commemorating one of the most-loved characters of 1980s Doctor Who


And secondly, I’ve written an article exploring what we know about Time Lords and ‘regeneration energy’. This all culminates in a bonkers theory which fits all the facts and will hopefully surprise and delight.


Those of you with long memories may recall that I wrote another article about regeneration for Doctor Who Magazine over ten years ago, which I’ve archived here. So when I was asked to write this new article both I and the editor were very keen that it should not cover anything covered in the previous article. Because readers would notice! Can I just say how remarkable it is for a magazine to work this way; how many other magazines would go out of their way to avoid repeating content from over ten years ago? Even when they interview people they’ve interviewed before, it’s to get new stories or updates on what they’ve been doing. Compare this to, oh, music magazines where they ask Paul McCartney questions he’s been asked a hundred times before and where he gives the same answers he’s given a hundred times before. So, anyway, before writing my new article I went through the old one to make sure I didn’t repeat myself. I even cut a line about the eighth Doctor’s regeneration giving him super-strength because I’d mentioned that in 2009. So, yes, while it could be argued, “Oh no, they’ve got Jonny to write about regeneration again”, that means they’ve picked the one person who is determined not to repeat anything Jonny has said.

After all, the whole fun of writing (and hopefully reading) these sort of articles is to take a fresh look and come up with new ideas. And, of course, since 2009 there have been however-many Doctor Who stories giving us new information about regeneration. We’ve seen the Doctor regenerate four* times since then, and we’ve seen other regenerations and learned new information about Time Lord physiology and life on Gallifrey. There’s even been some stuff in The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood which I didn’t pick up on last time. So there’s a lot of new stuff to look at, and so my article is deliberately skewed towards the last ten years, all the way up to last year’s Rosa.


In other news, I got the chance to listen to Rose Tyler: The Endless Night last week, and thought it was amazing. My writing aside, the cast were all great, the music was gorgeous, the sound design was marvellous, and everything just came together beautifully. It really recaptured the feel of the era while also feeling modern and new. Some real chills and tears in there. So all credit to the director, Helen Goldwyn. I couldn’t be more delighted and proud. Let’s hope there are many more adventures in store for Rose, Clive, Pete and Jackie!

The Rose Tyler: Dimension Cannon box set can be ordered from Big Finish here.

* Plus a recap of the first Doctor regenerating!

Monday, 9 September 2019

Infinitely Late At Night


My Rose Tyler: Dimension Cannon story, The Endless Night, has just been released by Big Finish productions. It’s the first story in a box set of four stories, concerning Rose’s adventures as she hops from parallel universe to parallel universe to locate the Doctor (leading up to her finally reaching the right universe in the TV story Partners in Crime). So in a way we know how the quest ended... but, of course, finding the right needle in an infinite haystack can’t have been straightforward, plus there is the question of how Rose came to realise that Donna Noble was of multi-dimensional significance...

I’ve previously blogged about the story here. The process of writing it has already half-faded into the mists of time, which is lovely for me because it means that when I listen to it, it will be like listening to something new and I’ll get to laugh at my own jokes all over again.

My main memory is that I tied myself in geographical knots trying to make it all work, as Russell T Davies’s decision to put Clive’s house in Stoke Newington in the novelisation of Rose had a kind of knock-on effect for everything in my story. There was a lot of ‘Well, if x lives there, then y will have to live there, so that they will have to pass through z’ and so on. Important to get these things right!

There are all sorts of other subtle references and little nods to things in there. I was particularly proud to include an international TV News montage, as no Russell T Davies story is complete without one!

As you might expect, I’m desperately excited to hear the finished product (the trailer here is all clips taken from my story). My story, and the others in the box set, appear to have gone down extremely well so far. So please give it alisten, and if you enjoy it, please ascend to your nearest rooftop and shout it out.