Jamie Mathieson on How He Wrote “My Dad, The Doctor”
A few days ago, we merrily re-posted “My Dad, The Doctor,” a 1000 word short story written by DOCTOR WHO scriptwriter Jamie Mathieson. Today on his blog, Jamie talked about how that story came to be. And let’s face it, for many of us as writers, this will be even more interesting:
Writing “My Dad, The Doctor”
by Jamie Mathieson
If you haven’t read the story, nip off and read it. It can be found here.
Now I’m going to bang on a little about writing it, no doubt using more words than the actual story. Mainly because I love reading that kind of thing from writers myself and thought it might be fun.
The first thing to say about the story is that I didn’t want to burn through an idea that could be used in the show. Having an actor pretend to be ‘possessed’ by Capaldi would be a real risk in live action, but in your head, the impression is pitch perfect, making the conceit work well in prose. Also, much of it goes on the child’s head, all thoughts that would have to be vocal in life action, making it potentially clunky.
I’m going to post the pitch I submitted to get the gig. The thing to note about this is that I had misread the brief. I thought it was to be a 2000 word short story, not 1000 words. Because I am writer not a reader and, let’s be frank, on this evidence, a little bit dim.
Pitch for 2000 word short story
‘My Dad, The Doctor’
by Jamie Mathieson
The basic wish fulfilment for kids idea underlying the story is this: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if my Dad was The Doctor.’
Clara and The Doctor on a spaceship in orbit around Earth as it is ripped apart by some unseen force. We see the Tardis spin away into space. Things look grim.
Cut to 10 year old Will, spending the weekend with his Dad Clive (divorced) in a rural village, modern UK. They’re stargazing one night and spot a shooting star that appears to hit nearby. The next morning while walking the dog they find a crater containing a small meteorite which is still warm. They take it home, it cracks open, revealing the sonic screwdriver embedded within.
Clive begins to behave oddly, talking in a Scottish accent, doing his best impression of The Doctor. He’s effectively being possessed. Will thinks it’s one of his Dad’s games as Clive is one of those imaginative Dads that’s always pretending to be a zombie or a robot etc.
Clive tells Will that he’s no longer his Dad. He’s actually a 2000 year old time traveller called The Doctor and he’s borrowing his Dad’s brain for a while through a psychic projector which is piggybacking on the sonic screwdriver. His real body is currently in orbit and he’s going to need Will’s help to rescue it.
Will loves this ‘game’ initially. The Doctor explains that he was fighting an alien called the Composite in a spaceship in orbit. During the battle, the Composite trashed most of the systems of the ship and it will burn up soon unless Will and Clive can save him….