Doctor Who, the Writer's Tale

Doctor Who, the Writer's Tale

The Final Chapter : the Definitive Story of the BBC Series

Book - 2010
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Presents correspondence discussing the creative life of "Doctor Who," including Davies's final year as head writer and executive producer.
Publisher: [London] : BBC Books, 2010.
ISBN: 9781846078613
Branch Call Number: 791.4572 DOCTO-D
Characteristics: 704 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Cook, Benjamin


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Apr 10, 2011

Okay, I'll be straight with you. If you're not a follower of the sci-fi/fantasy television series Doctor Who, there's probably little reason for you to read this book (or this review, for that matter). It's not just about Doctor Who, of course. It's about British television in the early part of the first decade of this century, and, above all, it's about writing, but to get to that, you 'll be wading up to your waist in Doctor Who and if you're not a Whovian, you'll just get lost, trust me.

Russell T Davies is the guy who resurrected Doctor Who. Or ruined it, depending on whom you ask. I'm married to the Resident Fan Boy who seems to have been moving into the latter camp ever since we were exposed to the final four specials that rounded off Davies' tenure in the New Who universe that he created. (The Resident Fan Boy is a Classic Whovian, devoted to the series as it was between 1963 and 1988, although he'll watch anything Who-related.)

Now, I wasn't crazy about those specials either. However, I can credit Davies with making me a New Whovian in the first place. Like many current female fan-girls, I came to DW after watching Tenth Doctor David Tennant in the saucy biopic Casanova, penned by Davies. My reaction at the time: "Hey...isn't David Tennant the new Doctor? Wait a minute...Russell T Davies wrote this? Didn't he write Bob and Rose? He's writing the new Doctor Who too?!?"

So I started watching the new Doctor Who, then I started staying up late to catch reruns of Davies' first Who season, with Chritopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor and...

...I became a prime candidate to read A Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter which covers the period when Davies began writing his final full season of Doctor Who while beginning a long, detailed and deliberate series of e-mails with Doctor Who Magazine writer and journalist Ben Cook. This gives fans of the show a peephole into the shadowland of roads not taken in character development, plot, casting, and special effects (usually the first to go to save money).

What did I learn from this book? I learned that Russell T Davies wrote not only his own episodes, but as the show's head writer re-wrote most of the episodes by other writers. Some evidently didn't mind and their comments on the process are included; a couple probably did. (I don't think Davies re-wrote episodes by Stephen Moffat who eventually took over the series from him.) Again, I was stunned by the quantity of ideas generated by this man; many of which were not used.

Bottom line? While anyone who is not a fan of Doctor Who would not get this book at all, it is pretty well irresistible for anyone who does love this extraordinary television show, whether they're a Russell T Davies fan or not. All Whovians owe a debt to him.

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