Coming soon from Obverse Books is A Target for Tommy – an unofficial “fanthology” of Doctor Who adventures to support Children’s writer/Who author/all-round decent bloke Tommy Donbavand.
Tommy is currently undergoing treatment for throat cancer, leaving him unable to undertake the school workshops that provide a substantial part of his income. He’s been documenting his battle against cancer in this moving and painfully honest blog which I urge you to take a look at.
Paul Magrs and Stuart Douglas had the idea of putting together a collection to show support and raise some funds to help out. A veritable cornucopia of writers have rallied round to provide stories. Here’s the full line-up:
Sharon Trezenga – Street of the Scream
Barry Hutchison – Curse of the Bog Women
Paul Magrs – Miss Hawthorne and the Alpaca of Doom
Andrew Hunt – The Triplet Impertinence
Sarah Hadley – Sweetie
Elton Townend Jones – The Blurred Man
iain McLaughlin – The Other Three Doctors
Lawrence Burton – The Time Wrestlers Edit
Andrew Hickey – The Bogeyman
Daniel Blythe – The Channel Hoppers
Kara Dennison – Doctor Who and the Viking
Andrew Lawston – Time War Cutaway
Nick Campbell – The Secret Keeper
Nick Wallace – 13 Synopses
Matt Bright – Eyebrows and Fish
Rachel Redhead – The Doctor and the Witch
Philip Ardagh – What the Who?
Philip Marsh – The Palace
Roy Gill – Deus ex Food Machine
Ian Potter – Leo Reflects
Simon Forward – Companions
Blair Bidmead – Significant Others
Stuart Douglas – Mapp, Lucia and the Lords of Time
Una McCormack – Directors Cut
Simon Bucher-Jones – The Ox Bow Train
Stewart Sheargold – Rock n Roll Alien
Paul Cornell – The Last Doctor
Steve Cole – Dr Who and the Mytex Power
The pleasure of collections like these is the chance to be a little playful – or as Matt Bright put it “to do whatever the hell you want and screw canon and ponderous self-importance”. I took the chance to write something involving the original TARDIS team of Ian, Barbara and Susan.
I first encountered this line-up in “Doctor Who and the Daleks” – David Whitaker’s brilliant novel adaptation of the original Dalek story. It was a much-read book for me as a kid, and I think for that reason they all seem to be very vivid and distinct characters in my imagination. Deus Ex Food Machine is an affectionate interlude that takes place between some of their adventures. Here’s a tiny sample:
I sat on the couch in the TARDIS lounge, my fingers picking at the bindings on my leather gauntlets.
“Here, let me –” said Barbara.
I offered a smile of thanks.
The Doctor was as brisk and blithe as ever. For such an old man, it often seemed to me he recovered surprisingly quickly from our various trials and excursions. “I fancy we could all do with some dinner,” he announced. “Venusian Night Fish for me.”
“Of course, Grandfather.” Susan crossed to the food machine, and started tapping buttons.
“Wait a minute, child! I haven’t given you the code.” The Doctor drew a diary from his pocket and began to leaf through the pages. “No, no, no… Ah, yes! That is it. X L 4 2 8 5 J… Or could that be a ‘K’? Dear me. Whoever wrote this had the most appalling handwriting…”
Susan waited obediently. She had long since memorised the sequence for all the old man’s favourites, but she would never have hurt his pride by pointing that out.
“Whoever tied these knots,” said Barbara, picking away, “had the most devious technique possible.”
“That sounds about right.” I sighed and rubbed at the bristles on my chin. “I can’t wait to get cleaned up. My grooming has rather gone to pot these past weeks.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Barbara shot me a glance. “I think that beard rather suits you, Ian.”
“Oh yes, Mr Chesterton. Do keep it!” said Susan, her eyes glinting mischievously. “It’s absolutely fab!”
“Hmmm. Don’t think I can’t tell when I’m being teased…”
I sank back on the couch.
It had been another of the Doctor’s typical misadventures – and I was still recovering…
If this sample intrigues you, please hurry over to Obverse and grab a copy! And if it doesn’t – surely one of the other brilliant stories will! So – what are you waiting for?
Teaser trailer and the first cast announcements for the Dark Shadows 50th anniversary special (wot I wrote) – Blood and Fire. And would you look at that line-up?
Lara Parker (Angélique Bouchard), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Patience Collins), Mitchell Ryan (Caleb Collins), Andrew Collins (Joshua Collins), Daisy Tormé (Abigail Collins), James Storm (Abraham Harkaway) and Jerry Lacy (Malachi Sands) with John Karlen (Alfred Loomis), Lisa Richards (Euphemia Spencer Stockbridge) & Christopher Pennock (Uriah Spencer Stockbridge) with more cast members to be announced…
Here’s the blurb from the Big Finish website:
“Some are born with magic, some acquire magic, and others have magic thrust upon them…”
The year is 1767. Young widow Laura Murdoch Stockbridge is to marry Joshua Collins, heir to the Collins fortune. Meanwhile, Joshua’s sister Abigail is in love with disreputable sailor Abraham Harkaway.
But the course of true love never did run smooth… especially when the witch Angélique Bouchard is around.
For Angélique has been sent back in time. And she has one mission…
To destroy the Collins family forever.
And here’s Dark Shadows producers Joe and Davy talking about their plans for the 50th anniversary in more detail, including some nice words from Joe on Blood & Fire:
One of the highlights, for me, of 2016 so far was receiving Roy’s first draft of Episode One. The dialogue jumped off the page because it’s glorious. It opens with a woman arriving on the outskirts of town and, before you know it, she’s met a pirate and then we’re in a horse-drawn carriage as people travel to a big house for a wedding. It’s pure gothic romance and I love it.
‘Since joining Big Finish in 2015 and discovering the delights of Dark Shadows, I’ve become a little bit obsessed with Quentin Collins, and Panic sees him finally back home at Collinwood. In the aftermath of Bloodlust, the narrative deftly juggles some werewolfy family bonding and an impromptu cookery lesson to frame an unforgettable introduction to the formidable Lela Quick. It is hard to say much more about Panic without venturing into spoiler territory, but the casting of Susan Sullivan as Lela is inspired. She is every bit as awesome as you’d expect her to be, and the perfect foil to David Selby. (More please, Davy and Joe!)’
Big Finish have recently released details of a couple of projects I’m involved with.
‘The story itself is unlike any other we’ve told before,” explains [Producer / Director] Scott Handcock. “There’s an intensity that comes with the Great War setting. You’ve a responsibility to reflect the sheer horror of what went on there, and the impact it had on the men who found themselves fighting in the trenches. It’s the kind of story Roy excels at: claustrophobic, introspective, exploring the concepts of faith and hope at a time when both seem lost…’
The story features the return of Captain James Anderson (as played by the brilliant Dan Brocklebank) alongside guest stars Samuel Barnett (who, incidentally has just been cast in a new TV adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently novels) and Steven Cree. The character of James previously appeared in my very first script for Dorian Gray and for Big Finish – The Prime of Deacon Brodie. It was a genuine privilege to be asked to revisit James and to be able to expand on and illuminate his relationship with Dorian (Alexander Vlahos) – and the terrible circumstances under which they meet.
I had a chance to visit the recording for Angel – there are a couple of pictures from this fab day above. It’s going to be sad to leave the world of Mr Gray behind – I’m sure there are more stories to tell – but I can also understand Scott’s and Alex’s reasoning for bringing the series to a close. I’ve loved being on board – and I’m so glad that Scott brought me into the world of Big Finish. I think scriptwriting plays to my strengths as a writer, and it’s great to be working with passionate, clever people who really understand how stories work!
More news in the next update…