Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Writing Weekend Part 2

Hello Dear Reader

Writing Weekend Part 2

Hopefully, you will have read Part 1, it makes sense of course in case there is some startling revelation of catastrophic news. Rest assured, there is nothing but reading Part 1 helps. I may never know if you have but it’s a comfort to think you will have.

Writing festivals are often packed as you only have a few days to work with. For me, it was only two days sadly. It’s never two days as well you know since people won’t be awake all night. Maybe one festival they will. Having completed the workshop, it was time to prepare for two interview sessions, the first with Mark Gatiss. A brief lunch, walk around and then of to the York opera house, a traditional old theater in the heart of the town.

It would be impossible to cover everything that was mentioned in the talks. I doubt I could transcribe it all and there would be a flatness in just reading the words. Understanding what interests a writer and how they write helps others see what they can do to further their own writing. Most writers I have discovered, seem to write from an early age, I did myself making up simple stories. Sometimes it starts with reading a favourite subject that makes one think.

League of a Gentleman

The event was well attended by fans from across the spectrum. I was very aware of the work Mark Gatiss had been involved with, but for me, it was discovering why or what he liked about writing that was interesting.  To open the talk, they played a sketch from League of Gentleman. A very deadpan Mark Gatiss in the role of a cave guide. This is dark comedy at its best, written perfectly and delivered in that droll, uninterested style. To write that and both produce laughs and not laugh is very difficult. You can’t help but laugh as it is just the polar opposite of slapstick. That was the gift of this writing, to write so bleak, it is seriously funny.

Carry on enjoying

Horror and ghost stories both film and television seemed the background for Mark Gatiss and one film, in particular, stood out for me, Carry on Screaming. This is my favourite Carry On film, I know it so well. Why? For me, it is one of the best-scripted films, well acted, a good cast including Harry H Corbett who stepped in for Sid James at the last moment. It is a huge nod to Hammer but most of all had two Doctor Who elements. A mention by name and of course Jon Pertwee.

It is clear that writing is very time-consuming. Many people never see the whole writing process, from an idea through to the completed work. Part of the talk touched on that process given that one idea alone had taken two years. Of course, Mark Gatiss was not just working on one project at a time. There was the assumption given the body of work completed that anything would be taken up. It is not always the case even for someone like Mark Gatiss. That was quite interesting as it shows all writers have the same problems.

 

One other passion of his, are ghost stories. I myself I have written a couple. To bring the right amount of horror, scare the reader or viewer just enough takes a fine balance. Building up those dark feelings, as you are drawn in, then the shock. The shock does not need to be harsh. Mark Gatiss has a real understanding of this, in what he has produced. He also laments the lack of this on television these days. Children are no longer properly scared, adults don’t always see good horror. As for mine, now I know I need to both finish them and write more. I might even be able to turn them into scripts. After his talk, I like many others had the chance for an autograph and a brief chat. Mark was genuinely interested in people and I was able to tell my Jon Pertwee story to him.

Around another world

So talk one completed, booked signed photography snapped. A chance to grab a bite to eat and ready for the third event. Again, an interview this time with Micheal Palin. Now I am a Monty Python fan. I know the Parrot sketch. I can sing (badly) a number of their songs. What I was looking for here was why and again what drove Micheal Palin to write. It was really simple. Just like Mark Gatiss, the drive to write came from a shared love of words. The chance to put his sketches on in a university environment gave the opportunity to test the waters, so to speak. He certainly found his dead parrot and more than a number of naughty Brian’s.

The other element here was his diary. You might think this is an odd source of information but if you really think about it, a diary is sometimes shorthand for ideas. Micheal Palin started his diary to remember events, ideas and was what you could consider the blog of its time. It has not gone out of fashion, just replaced by technology. It is something all writers I suspect should carry to hand. It does not need to be a diary in that traditional sense but a notebook or series of them.

The talk centered on a few points in Micheal Palin’s career, notably the Life of Brian, Ripping Yarns, Time Bandits, and his travel series. In each one, the love of writing was intricately involved. There was also one other interest to me briefly mentioned, Jabberwocky. That is one of those long complex poems, where some words are nonsense. I would have liked a little more about how that was constructed from poem to script.

To be able to tell a story well requires an understanding of characters, plot, surrounds and all. One might think there was no ‘plot’ in Around the World in 80 Days for example. However, the plot was very clear, reproduce the travel of a fictional character from a book. Now although there was a book, this was no fictional trip so that itself created other issues. How to write about 5 days sitting on a sailboat, make it interesting, exciting and yet not repeat the same lines, is difficult. While there was the time to write, maybe there was also the time to catch up?

 

Again the talk finished all too soon and there was the chance to get an autograph. I purchased a copy of poems by Micheal Palin to study. As I have been told, you have to read to be able to write. With the second book signed, it signaled the end of a very productive day. It gave me many ideas to work on, the thought that you can write what ever you wish and that the only thing stopping writing is yourself.

Having completed the second of these blogs it just shows what writing can do. I have three more poems to complete, a short story to edit and my sci-fi novel to re-edit (again). I also want to combine my love of photography with poems and short stories to produce another book. All can be done, but all would have to compete in this growing ocean of literature.

The York Literature festival was brief for me but very enjoyable. I would do the same again given the opportunity. I do have one more writing event to try, that of a weekend retreat, where all you do is write. Maybe that’s my next step? With my camera of course. Thank you all involved making my brief visit a joy.

Tagline: ‘Carry on Doctor, Who needs to get Around the World’

 

Day of the Doctor – A Review

Day of the Doctor – A review

Hello Dear Reader
This was first posted back on my old site just after the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who.
I recovered it from my lost site, along with a few more old blogs which I might repost.
On November 23rd 1963 a television program began. 50 years later that same programme celebrated its anniversary. Doctor Who a British institution that started with an old man in a police box. Running away from authority, looking for peace and quiet when he is discovered and adventures begin.
The episode on November 23rd 2013, The Day of the Doctor, brought together a number of threads of past story lines. As with other anniversary shows, other incarnations of the Doctor appeared. The story itself was very cleverly woven with another. The Earth is in trouble, again, aliens are threatening and the Doctor gets called in by UNIT. It is baffling at first and very straight forward. The story moves from one incarnation of the Doctor to another through a painting, introducing us to a lot more of his hidden past. Moving back and forth in time and places creating its own paradox and presenting the Doctor with a chance to change his own time.
The aliens are just right, not under played and not over the top. The focus is on the Doctor and his actions. There is so much here that gives more than a nod to the past 50 years. Rumours went slightly wild around the various Whovian sites, groups, clubs you name it they wanted it.  It was mentioned that this person was back and this person wasn’t and so on. As the story opened, it was clear who was back. Surprises were in store but you had to wait.
The actors clearly worked well together here, you can tell as they interact. There are some delightful moments both comic and dramatic as the story progresses. The three main actors Matt Smith, David Tenant and John Hurt clearly enjoyed their roles. It has to be a difficult role to undertake, becoming a British icon keeping a little of the actor before and then creating the role as your own.
Along the way, there were good supporting roles ensuring the episode had a very good cast. They did not take anything away from the main four characters, you have to include Billie Piper as well as the Doctors in the four, the story just flowed around everyone. There is no point explaining the story here as I don’t wish to give spoilers. Enough trailers and of course the episode has been shown a few times. There will be many fans who will argue various points about Doctor Who but in truth there are only two points to consider. So here is my taken on how to settle all arguments.
In my view, to deal with many important points and arguments raised by this show, you have to realise two important things. Firstly, the person who created the show made the ground rules, Sydney Newman. He said who the Doctor was, a man travelling in time and space in an old box. Secondly a word that takes care of it all the rest. That word is, fiction. Fiction makes Doctor Who travel in time and space. Fiction makes the Tardis. Fiction will allow the BBC to have as many incarnations of the Doctor as it wishes. Fiction. That word cuts across all, since Doctor Who is science fiction. Each further producer, writer, director and actor takes their steer from what Newman started and the word fiction. So, for me, no matter what anyone else says there are answers and solutions.  If in doubt refer to rule one.
As for the Curator? Again simple. My view here is that each incarnation of the Doctor has a timeline, when they regenerate they start another incarnation and another timeline. The old incarnation continues in a sense, allowed to grow old properly and age maybe pass away, unlike the ‘living’ incarnation until they regenerate. Hence a well-known incarnation becoming a Curator. There were even a few roundels in the background. Was that the Tardis living out its life? Who knows.That in itself gives nothing much away of the story.
So, what did the Day of the Doctor mean to me. A brilliant story, a link to all I enjoyed. To see it with friends was very good it made it more of an experience. It was a 5 out of 5 or 10 out of 10 or whatever. Was there the possibility of adding more? Maybe they could have but would that have worked? Maybe not. I am sure some will not like it because of X. As it was the episode beat everything else except one other BBC show. 10 million viewers in the UK alone watched it. Over 70 countries showed it at the same time. According to figures, over 100 million world wide. Not many television shows can warrant that audience, not many need to reach some many in one go. That is the appeal of a 50 year old show. One Saturday, November 23rd 2013 at 7.50pm the world watched.
Tagline; ‘Doctor Who?’

Picture this

Hello Dear Reader

I struggled this week to think clearly what to write about, a number of events have happened. Sometimes, there is a desire to want to write everything, warts and all. A certain sense often kicks in, call it common or fear or whatever, it changes what you want to discuss.

Having been around the interweb long enough to know that the old saying ‘walls have ears’ is true, so I decided to concentrate on a couple of things. One, which has already generated interest, was the new Bond trailer for the fourth coming film ‘Spectre’. There is a dark foreboding element to this trailer, gone are in the light-hearted in jokes. These last two Bond movies are much more in keeping with the novels in my view. They may well be influenced by other spy thrillers and franchises, but Bond is always Bond. One noticeable element of the trailer was the use of old theme music. It just added to the atmosphere. Of course, we now wait for the song.

There is one never-ending issue with films that run for such a time. Bond is 50 in film years. If he was going now he would be approaching his 70s. At some point there will be a call for a new Bond but who? Here, I have an issue. According to the books, the author, the man who created the character, Bond is remarked to resemble the American singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael (below), except with a “cruel mouth” and a “coldness in the eyes”.  There are various descriptions of him in different books. Some people wish to see the character played by someone who is not what the author wrote. So who is right? For me, it is the author, set it in stone not to be changed. He can’t be female, he can’t be a 16 year old boy, he can’t be …

I don’t care what others say, it’s the author who made the character. The same goes for another beloved character, Doctor Who. Again this character has been set out 50 years or more as male. The Doctor or Professor as Ace often called him, is another icon who for me can’t be changed from male to female. Again, I don’t care what the current show runner wants or feels is right for him. He has no say in changing that fundamental element of the show. This is not about disliking female Timelords, it is about being true to what has already been created.

Some people just want change because they want to shake up the universe. Some shows can handle change and very well. I don’t often mention certain shows, however, soaps such as Eastenders and Coronation Street change their characters with ease. But they themselves never (and I don’t know this since I don’t watch them) change a man to woman or pick a new actor to play the same role. Now I know that is not always true as child characters do change but that is just growing up.

Why call this blog ‘Picture this’, because I want to make sure the right picture remains, for at least two well-known characters.

Tagline: “Bond is Bond, Who won’t change no matter what”

Day of the Doctor

Dear Reader

Day of the Doctor.IMG_0913

This may seem like a very old review of the 50th anniversary episode, no, it’s all about my visit to the BBC Doctor Who experience. I have been a fan of the program since I can remember. I have one memory which I hope never fades. One summer when I was 5, we visited Blackpool for a holiday. Nothing unusual there one might say. However, I was not expecting three surprises, first was to see my Granddad, second was to be given Thunderbird 5 and third was to visit the Tower Ballroom to see Doctor Who. Now, remember that at 5 years old, believing in fantasy was very easy. There came a point when the children could go on to the floor and just run around as you do. We had seen the start of the show, there was a barrier between us and the Daleks and all. Imagine the feeling when a Dalek, a full-sized moving Dalek, headed towards you to clear the floor. Trust me, it felt real and I managed some how to clear that barrier right into my Granddad’s arms.

So years roll by and yes I went to see various other exhibitions of Doctor Who. They had costumes, props and video clips. It was good but always short. Each one did very well. But Doctor Who needed something more. When the show came back 10 years ago (10 years already) there was a renewed spark. Somewhere in the BBC, the idea must have been discussed and in Cardiff a building started.

I read all about the exhibition and it looked very well put together. Finally, I decided I had to visit. Close to my birthday and heading to one of my favourite writing locations. St Ives (hence the new blog) I drove down to the big blue building. Was that planned for it to be blue in places? I don’t know.

The exhibition is also an experience and it is very good fun, well put together and yes you do get to be inside the Tardis. I won’t say what happens but its fun. What is amazing to see is the detail of the sets and costumes that are on display. The place is big. You get to see at least 4 Tardis control rooms, one original recreation from Hartnell’s days, moving through time to the episode Rose. There are a huge array of costumes, let alone the old enemy, the Daleks. I was half expecting one to move, just to remind me that they had not forgotten Blackpool.

The other good part of the exhibition was photos. You could take as many as you wanted and I did. A couple are here of course and many more elsewhere. Those are your own memories, how you want to take a little of Doctor Who home with you.

Many people will ask, ‘Is it worth it?’ and my answer is yes. If you are a Doctor Who fan, go. Don’t forget, there is also a shop. I enjoyed my visit and yes I would go again with friends to see how they would enjoy the experience. One last point, the staff who run the place are a credit. Very friendly, very pleasing to see people who enjoy where they work.

IMG_0912Tagline: “Who is in that blue box over there?”