The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Start Again

To commemorate tonight's 'Lockdown Doctor Who' communal viewing of The Doctor’s Wife, here's an item from the vaults – my Doctor Who story that was cancelled because it was too similar to The Doctor’s Wife.

Tiny bit of background. In 2009 I was asked to write the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, to coincide with Matt Smith being introduced as the new Doctor. Now, I had some very strong ideas about what to do with the comic strip, one of them being that it should tell the same sort of stories that Steven Moffat would be telling on television. It would also have an arc, about the TARDIS absorbing various life forms across its travels.

So in early 2010 I sent off my plan for what would be the finale of the arc, which you can see below; DWM comic strip editor Scott Gray suggested the idea of making Chiyoko the child of the mutated TARDIS, which I was happy to include. And for the next six months I wrote the first three stories – Supernature, Planet Bollywood and The Golden Ones based on the arc we had worked out.

And then in August, I received an email for Scott saying that he’d just read the script for Neil Gaiman’s upcoming story and it was far too similar to mine – even insofar as having the TARDIS turn into a pretty young woman!

Anyway, I went away and came up with a different ending to the arc, which now formed the basis of two stories, Apotheosis and The Child of Time. Which turned out very well, and The Doctor's Wife was marvellous too, so I have nothing to be cross about.

But I was a bit annoyed, back in August 2010. Entirely my own fault, of course, for trying to tell stories like the ones they’d be doing on television...


At the end of story 1 – The Plague of Paradise, although neither the reader nor the Doctor knows it yet, the TARDIS has been subtly altered by the events on that planet. It has absorbed some of the local wildlife... and is beginning to ‘evolve’.

Over the next year or so – with each adventure, the TARDIS continues to assimilate more life forms into itself, and with each new life form, it changes its nature, becoming more sentient, a living, breathing creature. Added to the mix are some villains and monsters – possibly the Axons! – affecting the way the TARDIS operates. It is growing restless, savage, resentful... and hungry.

Final story – By now the Doctor has realised there is something strange afflicting the TARDIS. It is no longer following his instructions and has instead developed an independent persona of its own. In order to run a diagnostic, the Doctor lands the TARDIS inside itself – only for the Police Box exterior to turn into a monster, with windows for eyes and the door transformed into a mouth!

The TARDIS proceeds to consume itself – creating within its interior a whole world out of all the places it has visited, populated with every life form it has absorbed. Jungles and cities, all inside the TARDIS, all knotted up impossibly in four dimensions. The Doctor and Amy have to fight their way through this surreal labyrinth in order to restore the TARDIS to health and rid it of all the various parasites and mutations it has picked up; it becomes a fight between the psyche of the healthy TARDIS and the psyche of the diseased TARDIS.

The whole story takes place within the confines of the TARDIS, a nightmare kingdom representing its mental landscape. At the end, of course, the Doctor cures the TARDIS and returns it to normal, with all the malignant elements safely ejected into the time vortex.

Additional idea for the story, March 2010:

The other idea I had for the story (well, it's quite a way away, I'm taking my time!) was that the inside of the TARDIS would contain a city, like Bruegel's depiction of the Tower of Babel being constructed, where all the outer walls are Police Box panels and where all the inner sections resemble the TARDIS interior, the console room and so on. That would be all part of the 'inside the corrupted TARDIS' story.

(I later used this idea in 'Prisoners of Fate'!)

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