The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 28 January 2019


My River Song story, The Bekdel Test, was released last week, and it seems to have gone down very well. Hooray, I got away with it again. I’ve given it a listen myself and had a great time laughing at all my own jokes. Well, if I don’t find them funny nobody else will.

I expect the Big Finish site will have some reviews up soon, they’ve all been very positive. But you don’t need to wait for reviews, you want to order it now, don’t you? So here’s the link.

A couple of people who, as far as I’m aware, haven’t bought or listened to the story have taken offence at the title. Well, all I can say is, if they were to buy and listen to the story, they would hopefully discover their offence is misplaced. My intention with the story is not to denigrate or lampoon feminism or the Bechdel Test in any way (though, really, if you are using a stopwatch to tell if something is sexist or not then maybe you are taking a joke from a comic strip too seriously). Let me put it like this. My brief with the story was to tell a story where River Song meets Missy and my first thought was “Well, people are gonna expect them to talk about the Doctor, there’s lots of great stuff to explore there, I can’t have them not talk about him, people will feel short-changed – but I don’t want it to just be a story about two women talking about a man, that would be awful.” And then I thought “Hey, maybe I could turn that problem into a starting point for the story?” And then the thought of calling it ‘The Bekdel Test’ just made me laugh so much I couldn’t resist it.

But anyway, my point, if I have one, is this; you are not gonna find a writer more conscious of the importance of giving female characters agency than the one typing this right now. I might not always succeed, I am not always brilliant, sometimes I fall short of my own standards, but I am always thinking, “It’s not just enough to have female characters in the story. They have to do stuff of their own volition. They have to make decisions that drive the story. Sometimes good decisions, sometimes bad ones. They have to have an emotional journey. They have to have character development.” To treat them the same as any characters, really; male, female, black, white, old, young, straight, gay, alien robot, whatever. And if you look at my track record, you will see that I have always gone out of my way to write stories that are as male/female balanced as possible and have ‘diverse’ casts (I’m not sure I like the word ‘diverse’, it feels horribly patronising and the sort of thing that will turn out to be terribly offensive in five years’ time). And on the occasion where I was in a position to commission other writers for Doctor Who audios, I ended up with a male/female balance. I can’t really do much about my own individual gender balance, I’m afraid that was decided for me by an SRY protein about 46 years ago, but I’m doing my best to compensate for it.

So, in the immortal words of Beryl Reid in Earthshock; “The enemy’s outside. You’re pointing your gun in the wrong direction.”

In other news, publication of my Black Archive book on The Dalek Invasion of Earth has been brought forward to April. So you won’t have long to wait to find out the significance of the title ‘The Waking Ally’. The book covers every variation on the story, from Terry Nation’s first draft, to the TV version, the film version, the novelisation... and a version that nobody knows about...

Excited? I am, I hope you are too. You can find out more about The Black Archive here.

Monday, 14 January 2019

The Lonely Robot

A quick update on things going on and coming up.

Out now is issue 534 of Doctor Who Magazine. It contains, by me, the answers to the Christmas quiz. And yes, I’m kicking myself for forgetting the end of The End of Time Part II, which is also set on New Year’s Day, very briefly. Apart from that, I think I got away with it.

The magazine also includes another of my Blogs of Doom which made Andrew Pixley laugh out loud so it is officially, factually, funny. You can’t argue with Andrew Pixley, if he says something, it is true.

In other news, ooh look, here’s the cover for The Kamelion Empire, out in March. You can listen to the trailer and pre-order it here.

And in additional other news, I say a few words about my Missy story The Belly of the Beast (out in February) here, where you can also listen to the trailer.

I think that’s everything for now. My River Song story The Bekdel Test is out later this month, so I’ll be back to tell you about that when it is released...