Doctor Who – The Writer’s Tale

Over the last few years, there have been a lot of Doctor Who books published, ranging from histories of the series, collections of scripts, looks behind the scenes of the production process, and lots more. But this one is something quite different from all of those.

It all started when Benjamin Cook asked Russell if he’d be prepared to share his thoughts about writing during the pre-production process for the 2008 series. The plan was to put this all together for an article in Doctor Who Magazine. But it sort of grew into this 500 page, quite large book instead..

The bulk of the book is made up of emails and text messages between Russell and Ben. Russell shares early drafts of scripts, talks in great detail about the whole process of developing the stories, lets on how much rewriting he’s been doing on other writer’s scripts, suffers from insecurity and indecision, worries about leaks to the press[1], deals with crises, and generally reveals far more than you’re ever likely to read anywhere else. Ben acts as a sounding board, generally trying not to influence Russell. Though he does make one suggestion. Which Russell accepts…

I had great fun reading this – it was responsible for quite a few late nights, and a few mornings when I didn’t get up as early as I might have done, as I just wanted to read a few more pages. In addition to large chunks of script (in various versions), lots on Russell’s earlier TV work and life in general, there are loads of pictures, a few email exchanges with incoming head writer Steven Moffat, and much more.

If you’re the kind of Doctor Who fan who makes a point of watching Confidential, you’ll probably get a lot out of this.

[1] Some of the tabloid stories were so accurate that somebody on the inside had to be leaking. Russell was particularly annoyed by one leak which appeared in the Daily Star – “At least The Sun has readers…”