Hello, you are hopefully someone who has worked on Doctor Who in front of or behind the cameras, and who has been directed to this website by a friend or colleague. Thanks for popping over, and please allow me to explain my lunatic scheme :
I am a professional actor, writer, stand-up comedian and sometime Doctor Who historian. My one man comedy show Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf went to the West End, got a Sony nomination when it transferred to radio, and toured the world. I currently host The 7th Dimension on BBC Radio 4 Extra. You can check my credentials by having a look around this website. For 2013 I have set myself rather a foolhardy – but I hope fun and interesting – mission.
Doctor Who is 50 this year: my plan is to interview as many people involved with the programme as possible, and to put the results online as an audio podcast (a sort of internet radio show). If memories are scant, fear not. We need not confine ourselves to Doctor Who – in fact, it is you that I am interested in. I want you to feel free to steer the conversation to your wider credits, career highlights, passions, bugbears … anything, but most of all to enjoy yourself. All I need is one anecdote from whichever stories you have first hand knowledge of, so that I can cross them off my list.
I will happily travel to meet you : in and around the London or Manchester areas would be certainly doable, but I’m not ruling out anywhere as comedy involves a lot of travel so I might end up passing by your way anyway. I am a slave to the itinerant nature of being a jobbing actor and comic, alas, so batting about availability might be an annoying process initially: if you leave your contact details as a comment on this blog they will remain private as said comments can’t be published without me doing so (which I won’t). Failing that, I am on Facebook as Toby Hadoke and Twitter as @TobyHadoke. The interview itself will only take about 30 minutes. If we can’t meet up, I can do the whole thing on Skype so no-one even has to leave their house. The podcast will be free, and I am not getting paid, so I’m afraid that there is no remuneration. The best I can offer is to buy you a drink or two, or maybe coffee and a cake. I will ask you to nominate a charity which we will encourage listeners to donate to at the end.
I hope that this is of interest and that you would like to take part. Thanks for reading.
For some background on this foolhardy quest, see here.
The Podcasts themselves can be found at the Big Finish Website where it is one of their Ranges. On this page you will also find an alphabetical list of the interviewees plus information on the charities recommended by my subjects.
In 2013, with the help and technical support of Big Finish, I will be embarking on a quest to interview as many people as possible from Doctor Who’s illustrious history. The aim being, in 52 weeks, to get a first hand anecdote about every single story. I am providing a list of all the televised adventures here, and will highlight the ones we have covered in red, with the episode number and anecdotee’s name added. For some stories we may get more than one anecdote, because I don’t play by no rules suckas.
UPDATE – This is where I currently am as far as the latest release (August 2015) is concerned. Stories not yet covered are in black.
William Hartnell An Unearthly Child (Waris Hussein #6) The Daleks (Clive Doig #12 Brian White #47) The Edge of Destruction Marco Polo (Waris Hussein #6, Philip Voss #46) The Keys of Marinus(Special #11) The Aztecs(Ian Cullen #4) The Sensorites (Ilona Rodgers #42) The Reign of Terror (Clive Doig #12) Planet of Giants (Clive Doig #12) The Dalek Invasion of Earth (B Kay #18) The Rescue (Maureen O’Brien #95) The Romans (Dorothy-Rose Gribble #79) The Web Planet (Richard Martin #80/105) The Crusade (Bernard Kay#18, V Ritelis#26) The Space Museum (Glyn Jones #3, Jeremy Bulloch #77) The Chase (Richard Martin #105) The Time Meddler (Norman Hartley # 122) Galaxy 4 (Clive Doig #12) Mission to the Unknown (Edward De Souza #88) The Myth Makers (Barrie Ingham #16) The Daleks’ Master Plan(Vik Ritelis #26) The Massacre (Fiona Cumming #23, David Weston #33) The Ark (Terence Bayler #74) The Celestial Toymaker (Bill Sellars #119) The Gunfighters (Matthew Jacobs #43, William Hurndell #73) The Savages (Peter Thomas, Andrew Lodge#15) The War Machines (Margot Hayhoe #53) The Smugglers (Derek Martin #115) The Tenth Planet (Alexandra Tynan #130)Jon Pertwee Spearhead from Space (C Rawlins #19, Prentis Hancock #129) Doctor Who and the Silurians (Christine Rawlins #19, Sue Upton #49) The Ambassadors of Death (Christine Rawlins #19, Gordon Sterne #22, John Moreno #40, Margot Hayhoe #53) Inferno (Christine Rawlins #19, S Upton #49) Terror of the Autons (Margot Hayhoe #53) The Mind of Evil (Derek Martin #115) The Claws of Axos (Bernard Holley #41) Colony In Space (Bernard Kay #18) The Daemons (Sue Upton #52) Day of the Daleks (Valentine Palmer #10) The Curse of Peladon (David Troughton #60) The Sea Devils (Tony Miller #113) The Mutants (Fiona Cumming #22) The Time Monster (Sue Upton #52) The Three Doctors (Rex & Pat Robinson #45) Carnival of Monsters (Terence Lodge #116) Frontier In Space (Ray Lonnen #27) Planet of the Daleks (Prentis Hancock #129) The Green Death (Colin Mapson #22) The Time Warrior (Marcia Wheeler #84/108) Invasion of the Dinosaurs (George Gallaccio #131/132) Death to the Daleks (Joy Harrison #123, Tim Humphries #120) The Monster of Peladon (Rex Robinson #45, Marcia Wheeler #84/108) Planet of the Spiders (John Kane #65)
Peter Davison Castrovalva (Fiona Cumming #22) Four To Doomsday (Paul Shelley #38) Kinda (Anne Faggetter #133, Matthew Waterhouse #96) The Visitation (Anthony Calf #114) Black Orchid (Roger Limb #48) Earthshock (June Bland #118) Time-Flight (Matthew Waterhouse #96) Arc of Infinity (Roger Limb #48) Snakedance (F Cumming #22, Bob Mills #29) Mawdryn Undead (Stephen Garlick #109) Terminus (Roger Limb #48) Enlightenment (Fiona Cumming #22) The King’s Demons (Sue Upton #49) The Five Doctors (Keith Hodiak #127) Warriors of the Deep (Tara Ward #27)
Frontios Resurrection of the Daleks Planet of Fire (Fiona Cumming #22) The Caves of Androzani (Martin Cochrane #7)
Sylvester McCoy Time And the Rani (William Dudman #14) Paradise Towers (Ian Fraser #24) Delta And the Bannermen (Dudman #14) Dragonfire(Moore/Mansfield #1) Remembrance of the Daleks (Ian Fraser #24) The Happiness Patrol (Moore/Mansfield #1) Silver Nemesis The Greatest Show In the Galaxy (Chris Jury #86, Chris Guard #89) Battlefield(Moore/Mansfield #1, Dorota Rae #109)
Ghost Light The Curse of Fenric(Stephen Moore/Susan Mansfield #1, Fraser #24) Survival
Christopher Eccleston Rose (Russell T Davies #50) The End Of The World (Zoe Wanamaker #30) The Unquiet Dead (Russell T Davies #50) Aliens Of London/World War Three Dalek (Russell T Davies (#50) The Long Game (Russell T Davies #50) Father’s Day The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (RTD #51) Boom Town (Russell T Davies #51) Bad Wolf/The Parting Of The Ways (Nicholas Pegg #39, Russell T Davies #51)
Matt Smith The Eleventh Hour (Arthur Darvill #57) The Beast Below Victory Of The Daleks (Nicholas Pegg #39) The Time Of Angels/Flesh And Stone (Steven Moffat #100) The Vampires Of Venice (Arthur Darvill #57) Amy’s Choice (Arthur Darvill #57) The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood (Arthur Darvill #57) Vincent And The Doctor (Steven Moffat #100 – ahem) The Lodger (Ben Peyton #34) The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang (Simon Fisher-Becker #32) A Christmas Carol The Impossible Astronaut/Day Of The Moon The Curse Of The Black Spot The Doctor’s Wife The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People A Good Man Goes To War (Dan Starkey #35, Simon Fisher-Becker #32) Let’s Kill Hitler Night Terrors The Girl Who Waited The God Complex Closing Time The Wedding Of River Song (Simon Fisher-Becker #32) The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe Asylum Of The Daleks (Nicholas Pegg #39) Dinosaurs On A Spaceship (S Metzstein #13) A Town Called Mercy (Saul Metzstein #13) The Power Of Three The Angels Take Manhatten The Snowmen (Saul Metzstein #13, Dan Starkey #35) The Bells Of St John The Rings Of Akhaten Cold War Hide Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS The Crimson Horror (Saul Metzstien #13, Dan Starkey #35) Nightmare In Silver The Name Of The Doctor (Saul Metzstein #13, Dan Starkey #35)
Patrick Troughton The Power of the Daleks The Highlanders (Fiona Cumming #22) The Underwater Menace (Alexandra Tynan #130) The Moonbase (Alexandra Tynan #130, Frazer Hines #91) The Macra Terror (John Davies #62, Ann Faggetter #133, Terence Lodge #116) The Faceless Ones (Bernard Kay #18) The Evil of the Daleks (Roger Bunce #69/104) The Tomb of the Cybermen (Bernard Holley #41) The Abominable Snowmen (Malcolm Middleton #78) The Ice Warriors (Sheenagh Wreyford #36) The Enemy of the World (Tony Millier #113, David Troughton #60) The Web of Fear (Paul Cole #12) Fury from the Deep (William Dudman #14, Margot Hayhoe #53) The Wheel In Space (Marcia Wheeler #84/108) The Dominators (Philip Voss #46) The Mind Robber (Christopher Robbie #20, Hamish Wilson 51) The Invasion (Norman Hartley #122) The Krotons (Frazer Hines #91) The Seeds of Death (Martin Cort #11) The Space Pirates (Peter Neill #47) The War Games(Vernon Dobtcheff #31, Terence Bayler #74)Tom Baker Robot (Bernie Newnham #47) The Ark in Space (Rodney Bennett #112) The Sontaran Experiment (Glyn Jones #3, Rodney Bennett 112, Roger Murray-Leach #134/135) Genesis of the Daleks (Tony Millier #113) Revenge of the Cybermen (C Robbie #20) Terror of the Zygons (George Gallaccio #131/132) Planet of Evil (Roger Murray-Leach #134/135, Prentis Hancock #129) Pyramids of Mars (George Gallaccio #131/132)
The Android Invasion The Brain of Morbius (Les McCallum #87) The Seeds of Doom (John Challis #111) The Masque of Mandragora (Rodney Bennett #112, Les McCallum #87) The Hand of Fear (Rex Robinson #45) The Deadly Assassin (Susan Moore #1) The Face of Evil(Susan Moore #1) The Robots of Death (Brian Croucher #83) The Talons of Weng-Chiang (Roger Murray-Leach #134/135) Horror of Fang Rock (Rio Fanning #67) The Invisible Enemy (Edmund Pegge #37) Image of the Fendahl (Derek Martin #115) The Sun Makers(Adrienne Burgess #7) Underworld (John Leeson #90) The Invasion of Time (Colin Mapson #22) The Ribos Operation (Prentis Hancock #129) The Pirate Planet () The Stones of Blood (John Leeson #90) The Androids of Tara(Doreen James #25) The Power of Kroll (Philip Bird #110) The Armageddon Factor (Sue Upton #49) Destiny of the Daleks (Tony Osoba #9, Peter Straker #28)) City of Death (Doreen James #25) The Creature from the Pit (Geoffrey Bayldon #117) Nightmare of Eden (Rob Goodman #68)
The Horns of Nimon
The Leisure Hive Meglos (Crawford Logan #72) Full Circle (Andrew Smith #2) State of Decay (Terrance Dicks #55) Warriors’ Gate (David Weston #33) The Keeper of Traken (Roger Limb #48) Logopolis (Margot Hayhoe #53)
Colin Baker The Twin Dilemma(Kevin McNally #5) Attack of the Cybermen (Nicola Bryant #47) Vengeance On Varos (Philip Martin #64/70, Jason Connery #70) The Mark of the Rani (William Ilkley #17) The Two Doctors (Frazer Hines #91) Timelash (Nicola Bryant #47) Revelation of the Daleks (Roger Limb #48, Colin Spaull #106) The Trial of a Timelord: The Mysterious Planet (Lynda Bellingham #71/85, Dominic Glynn #66) Mindwarp (Philip Martin #64/70) Terror of the Vervoids (Rob Godman #68, Lynda Bellingham#71/85) The Ultimate Foe (Ian Fraser #24)
Paul McGann The Only One With Paul McGann In It (Matthew Jacobs #43)
David Tennant The Christmas Invasion (Russell T Davies #51) New Earth (Zoe Wanamaker #30) Tooth and Claw (Russell T Davies #52) School Reunion (Russell T Davies #52) The Girl in the Fireplace Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel The Idiot’s Lantern The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit Love & Monsters Fear Her Army of Ghosts/Doomsday (Nicholas Pegg #39) The Runaway Bride Smith and Jones The Shakespeare Code Gridlock Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks (Nicholas Pegg #39) The Lazarus Experiment 42 Human Nature/The Family of Blood Blink (Ian Boldsworth #44) Utopia (Robert Forknall #8) The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords Voyage of the Damned Partners in Crime The Fires of Pompeii Planet of the Ood The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky (Dan Starkey #35) The Doctor’s Daughter The Unicorn & the Wasp (David Quilter #21) Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead Midnight Turn Left The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End (Nicholas Pegg #39) The Next Doctor Planet of the Dead The Waters of Mars The End of Time (Dan Starkey #35)
Ones I Didn’t Have To Do But Have Done Anyway Doctor Who And The Daleks (film) Shada (Daniel Hill K-9 And Company (Gillian Martell A Fix With Sontarans (Gareth Jenkins
Slipback Dimensions In Time (David Roden Death Comes To Time (Johnny Candon #47) An Adventure In Space And Time (Mark Gatiss #98) The Day Of The Doctor (Steven Moffat #100) The Time Of The Doctor (Steven Moffat #100) The Five-ish Doctors Reboot (Steven Moffat #100) Night Of The Doctor (Steven Moffat #100)
Oh, and if you know anyone who has been in Doctor Who (looking at that list, preferably loads of them!), do get in touch!
A couple of days ago a gentleman called Jon Keefe (@jjkv007) posted on Twitter: Doctor Who 50th; a weekly podcast w everyone thoughout the history of the series interviewed by @TobyHadoke . Make this happen internet Gods. In the absence of input from any such invoked cyberspace deities, I have decided to rise to the challenge myself. Now, I obviously can’t do everyone ever, so what I propose to do is this:
I will post a podcast every week in which I interview someone from Doctor Who.My aim will be to get every single story name-checked over the course of the next 52 weeks; but name-checked through first hand, personal recollection. Big Finish have kindly offered to host the resulting interviews in their podcast. Obviously it would be very simple to go for companions or producers or major contributors, and I am indeed hoping for a full quota of them: but that would be relatively straightforward to achieve and fairly predictable … so I want minnows to rub shoulders with giants – bit part actors, vision mixers, floor managers – anyone with new stories to tell, fresh perspectives or even illustrious careers outside of Who that are so interesting that we barely touch on the Doctor himself during our conversations. And if I do get a companion, I won’t be asking what their favourite story is that’s for sure.
And this is where you come in:
With the podcasts being so frequent, I haven’t really got time to pussyfoot around and it’s going to have to be achieved in something of a guerrilla style. Therefore, any contacts (preferably e-mail or snail mail) readers may have that will get me to a person direct so I can drop them a line, offer them a pint or two (I’m not getting paid so neither will they sadly) and arrange something quick would be hugely appreciated. Realistically, I can probably only do people in London or Manchester, or arrange something over Skype that I can record. Also, I am cripplingly shy when it comes to making contact with people and haven’t really got the time resources to bounce negotiations back and forth – so if you know the person and could pave the way, explain the scenario and tell them I’m not a dick (I know – lying is wrong, but it’ for a good cause), that’d be even better.
As there is no money changing hands I will be asking each interviewee to nominate a charity at the end of each podcast so anyone who has enjoyed what they’ve heard can make a small donation.
So… do you have any contacts for people – no matter how obscure – who from your dealings might be happy to have me invade their privacy for about an hour?You may know the Chicki from The Macra Terror? Your uncle might have been the call boy on Colony In Space! You may even have had a one night stand with a Lakertyan: well, now’s your chance to give something back and make use of your tenuous Who connection!
If so, give me your details and I will be in touch! Sooner rather than later – I start tomorrow!
Warning: This blog contains a number of justifications for hypocrisy.
I’ve had this blog for ages, but only really updated it sporadically because to be perfectly honest, and despite the fact that I have chosen to earn my living standing in front of strangers, demanding their attention and craving their applause, there is something that makes me view attention seeking as somewhat distasteful. Doing stand-up may seem to be the anathema of this point of view, but the way I – as someone who has to spends hours plucking up the courage to send an unsolicited e-mail to someone I like or to phone an official body – see it is this: with stand-up, I have been given permission. There is no way I would prat about in front of a room full of people going “Me, me, me” just for the attention, but the infrastructure of a comedy night is such that there is a stage and a microphone that people have chosen to pay money to look at and listen to. The people who have been invited to tell world class jokes (say, Gary Delaney), issue satirical barbs (say, Mark Thomas), or fume about trivial issues in a way which would be unacceptable in proper social situations (say, um, … me) have usually earned the right to get up there and do it. Usually through hard work, perseverance or talent, although occasionally through chronic lack of self-awareness, overweening arrogance and bewildering good fortune (say, err, … no, I’d better not say). Despite my job, I wouldn’t describe myself (or indeed, most comics) as massive show offs. Around my family dinner table I’m not especially keen on dominating a conversation and I find new social situations with unfamiliar people absolutely crippling. Give me a microphone and an obligation to fill the silence, and any urge to receive attention feels legitimised (but still has to be earned).
One of the things I’ve tried to talk about on stage recently is how dreadfully narcissistic we have become as a society. Self-expression without the need for social interaction to facilitate it has bred a generation of keyboard warriors and worriers. People go to forums to join with like-minded individuals to share ideas and spread the joy about their hobby, passion or favourite TV programme. And then fall out with each other quite vociferously when they find out that not everyone enjoys every aspect of their favourite thing in
exactly the same way that they do. The rise of the internet troll has suddenly given worldwide exposure to the most kickable members of the human race. In the old days, if you wanted to be a mouthy prick you needed to be able to run fast or cultivate a powerful physique. These days you just need an e-mail account and no self-editor.
Twitter is the ultimate one way expression outlet, and with it comes a curious hierarchy that says everything about how it works. If I follow Mr X because he’s a famous comedian, I’m showing that I, Mr T (and why not?) admire him and want to read his jokes and opinions. The thing is, I’m also in his profession, so if he follows me he is conferring status and affirmation to me very publicly (his followers will think that if this comedian they really like, Mr X, follows this other comedian Mr T, then Mr T must be pretty good). If, on the other hand, he doesn’t follow me in return, he is accepting patronage but tacitly acknowledging that I am not in his league, or worthy of his attention. Similarly, if an up-and-coming comic (Mr Y) follows me, but I don’t choose to follow them, surely I’m saying “Yes, devour the wise yet pithy saws and modern instances I can conjure in 140 characters or less” at the same time as saying “But I don’t care whether you do or not, because frankly my life is busy enough not to be distracted by your attempts at wit”. Not so much Mr Y as Mr Y Should I Be Bothered By What You’re Banging On About? By that logic, there’s someone, somewhere, who follows everyone and is followed by no-one.
You sir, are officially the worst human being on the planet.
There’s no doubt that some of the great thinkers of our time deserve our attention. Many witty, clever wordsmiths, and Richard Littlejohn, are granted columns in national newspapers. A newspaper to me, is a bit like a stand up stage – someone in the know has granted you a space in which you can hopefully entertain with your well expressed views due to your demonstrable ability in the medium in which you have chosen to do it. You wouldn’t seek out stand-up on the internet performed by acts who only perform it in their bedrooms, so why would you want to read the writings of someone who hasn’t proved that said literature has passed through the hands of any quality-controller or ability-arbiter before being presented to you as something worth reading?
But this is the world we live in. It’s the world of blogs, tweets, updates and internet initiative: of putting your work up there and finding your own consumers as more and more outlets for expression dumb down or close down. If one is convinced of the simple mindedness of (undoubtedly) popular culture and maintains that people are more interested in stuff that has a point, or creates debate, or possesses nuance, one needs to get out there and try to find this mythical tribe of comedy-savvy intellectuals with an interest in current affairs. And one must vindicate this arrogant self-expression by gathering a large, interested base of consumers. It sounds horribly capitalist doesn’t it? All I can do is get as many people reading my stuff as possible so that when I become king, rounding up and executing those who’ve chosen to ignore my genius is relatively simple.
So in a way, reading this has just saved your life. Well done.
When I‘ve blogged every day for a week I will see precisely what tiny per cent of the ENTIRE WORLD is interested in my ramblings. I’m not sure I would be, and what I discover may be most sobering. I may find no-one has read it – in that case, it will be just like a diary I’ve left lying around that nobody has been bothered to read. I think I can live with that. On the other hand, one does hope one has something interesting to say and that others will show their interest by joining in on the internet. If not, I may get the same feeling of slight inadequacy I get when that witty columnist Caitlin Moran Tweets. She’s funny, clever, writes well, loves Doctor Who and lives near me. But am I important enough for her to follow me on Twitter? Nope. It’s a cruel hierarchy. In following her, I was really asking to be her friend. Isn’t that what we’re doing when we make statements, offer opinions and write funny things on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Aren’t we just saying “Please be my friend?”
If you disagree, you’re probably not my friend.
Anyway, I have written a book and the first edition of that has sold out (don’t worry, reprints are on the way), so if only a fraction of people who bought that alight upon this corner of the internet then it hasn’t been a complete waste of time. Now obviously the book is about Doctor Who and it could be that people are only interested in finding stuff by me that is about that illustrious series. In which case I’d have to keep inserting the name Doctor Who into my posts. That’s Doctor Who. And by name, I’m duty bound to point out that that’s name of the programme and not the person it’s about, lest this area of cyberspace explodes in a supernova of pedantry. What name are you talking about, I hear you cry? Why, Doctor Who, of course. Yes, that’s the one. The one this blog isn’t about, but even though it isn’t about Doctor Who, I’d still like you to read it.
Doctor Who related or not.
If, like me, you’re interested in Doctor Who, you could follow me on Twitter. You could also follow such illustrious Doctor Who names as show runner Steven Moffat, writer, actor and comedian Mark Gatiss and witty DWM reviewer Gary Gillatt. I do. Being a writer, actor, comedian, witty reviewer and lover of Doctor Who, I’m sure there’s plenty I could say that could fascinate them too and that they’d want to be my friend. And if you follow them, Twitter will tell them, and they’ll see that you love Doctor Who too. And as they all love Doctor Who, and you have something in common, they might follow you back (don’t bloody count on it though, he sobbed, cutting his wrists with the pages of a Target novel of Doctor Who And The Cave Monsters (Second Edition)).
Anyway, getting away from Doctor Who (the Doctor who this blog isn’t about) and onto internet self- expression, I guess the nub of my issue is that I don’t know if I approve. Thing is, I’m not sure I trust it. I am not sure it is healthy. I’m not sure we can trust humanity with it. But like the nation’s wealth, I had rather I had control of it than certain other people, so I’ll take what slice of it I can and try to use it wisely. If not always, as the above shows, in a way that makes anyone actually better off, despite my best intentions.
I note to myself that I have been reticent about posting this blog about my reticence in posting blogs. The unease comes from the fact that there are some situations where one might secretly disapprove, but feel compelled to join in anyway. In a football crowd perhaps. In a drinking game. At an orgy.
So welcome to my orgy. Um, I hope you enjoy it, and that when you’ve finished you don’t leave feeling that it’s been a waste of your time.
Well, what a treat that was. I arrived in Heathrow in good time and immediately bumped into a couple of Chicago bound fellow thespians : the always immaculate and charming Nigel Fairs and the whirlwind of fun that is Laura Doddington. Before long I was chatting to Leela and Winston Churchill in the departure lounge (i.e. the wonderful Louise Jameson, a truly classy lady, and Ian McNeice who I’d not met before and is charming and clearly chuffed to bits with his Doctor Who association). Rob Shearman sat next to me on the flight and we anticipated getting our hands of physical copies of Running Through Corridors before he fell asleep and took both armrests with him. I didn’t sleep for more than about twenty minutes, but Tony Lee popped over for a chat and made the last hour fly by.
And so we were in Chicago. As ever people made us feel very welcome and it was nice to see so many folks I only ever hook up with in the USA. We were really looked after by a charming and hospitable team of people and I can’t thank Gene, Jennifer, Tara, Ruth-Ann, Anne, Dennis and everybody else enough.
We had a Thanksgiving Buffet in which enough food to sate an entire nation (and probably sink a couple) was laid on, but America’s uncertainty with the natural appeal of the humble vegetable meant that each of them had been augmented in some way (generally involving drenching their honest healthiness with some sort of spoonful of death): cauliflower and broccoli gratin was especially successful, and the asparagus with hollandaise was scrummy, but sweet potatoes never have, and never will, require the addition of marshmallows. Is everyone in this nation pregnant? It seems odd to contrive a way to turn every single foodstuff into a sweet – even the bread and butter was (sweet)corn bread and maple (syrup) butter! I half expected to have pizza with spangles or shepherds pie studded with M & Ms the next day. I’m not saying it wasn’t delicious, but I’m not 100 per cent certain in was sane. Thanks are due to the lovely Karen Baldwin for organising us into a big party of barrel stomached Brits abroad. Yum, yum.
On Friday I woke ridiculously early and meandered about pointlessly (which is a neat summation of my 36 years on this planet actually). Rob and I did a pretty well attended panel (considering it was the first one in the big room on the first day) with our patient and genial publisher Lars Pearson who had proudly showed us the books when he arrived. There’s a brilliant bonus inside thanks to Katy Shuttleworth of a little running stick man at the top corner of each page who becomes a piece of animation if you quickly flip the pages – a neat, witty touch, very well rendered. Of course, having scrutinised the final text over and over again with a mircroscope, typos flew out of the page as soon as I read them, but that’s always the way. There aren’t too many, it’s just one always notices and dwells on the little niggles. It’s a handsome looking thing and I think it reads well.
We signed a few autographs for the very first people to buy the thing, which was great, and then I was chock-a-block with other panels including something called Toby Hadoke: One-on-One which I feared would be a literal description of the turnout. In my quest to be involved in the worst attended panel of the event I think I won – we started with three but by the end there were nine (including a baby, but I’m including the baby, all right?). I had a bet with Simon Guerrier (a delightful bear of a man whose wife Debbie was along for the trip too, which was good news because she’s lovely) that he’d get more than me on his One-on-One, and he tripled my paltry attendance. I love spending time with Simon as he’s jolly and always a good sounding board for ideas (and is full of interesting nuggets that he pops into conversation with a big grin) so why I only see him in a different continent when we live in the same city I’ve no idea.
Was that the day of the theatre panel? I think it was – where Ian, Frazer, Laura, Louise and about three thousand other people (it was a hefty panel – didn’t need me on it) were terribly kind not do be insulted having an oik like me, whose mimsy CV would be crushed to death by the first page of each of theirs, included amongst them discussing a life on the stage. Nick Briggs had a host of funny stories that he dealt out with apolmb and it turned out to be rather fun all told (but I really shouldn’t have been on it!). I did a Brian Blessed anecdote.
Later that night I was enjoying the fine company of Frazer Hines (this man should be on the after dinner speaking circuit – he’s full of stories, brilliantly told, and his enthusiasm for Doctor Who is wonderful to behold) and Lisa Bowerman (who is as much of an actor’s geek as I am, would you believe?) and got very grumpy having to be dragged away to do a thing called a Liars Panel. This is where the entire panel (of two) has to regale the questioners with witty answers that have no basis in fact, to hilarious effect. What actually happened was that Tony Lee regaled the questioners with witty answers that had no basis in fact, to hilarious effect and got loads of laughs and I spent the whole hour not having a clue what was going on and ended up doing jokes only myself and Lisa (whose atten dance to show solidarity I appreciated) could possibly understand. I even got dissed by someone in the front row who brazenly told Tony he “counted” because he’d written for Doctor Who (unlike me!). Charming. Then it was back to the bar and much needed buckets of booze. I worried that my response to the thing might have come across as disdain for Tony rather than my own bafflement at how the thing was supposed to work, but I think I made that clear to him afterwards. He’s a natural at these things and it’s obvious why he’s such a favourite at events like this.
It’s always a bit weird for me before I’ve done Moths as most people aren’t really sure what I’m doing there ; everyone was very friendly though, and I finally got to see my book in the flesh (or rather, paper). And I had breakfast with Jamie off of Doctor Who.
By the end of Friday, my arm was completely bruised by the amount I’d had to keep pinching myself.
NEXT TIME (I shall not be so lenient):
My wife arrives, Moths is performed, and Nicholas Briggs cries.
A brief insight into how my mind works. I have done five previews on the trot for my new show, Now I Know My BBC. They’ve generally gone well, but there’s still a long way to go. Plenty of funnies, and the beginnings of a decent story, but it really needs hacking about and bashing into shape. Which is what I should be doing now. So I’m writing this instead. Part of my brain is kidding me that this will “get me in the mood” for writing and I will thus be industrious later and really lick the new hour into shape. The other part of my brain will convince me that in doing this, I have done some work, so can have a cup of tea instead of doing anything else for now. Quite why my personality forces me into putting everything off until the last minute is anyone’s guess. It’s hardly a great advert for evolution. Anyway, Hartlepool was the first of the previews – hot, sweaty, and an hour and a half, but a great audience who allowed me to veer from subject to subject. Constructive advice and support from my friends at Tachyon TV was much appreciated. Harlow the next day, a lovely, proper comedy club run by the estimable John Mann, which ran to time and helped shape the story. The beginning needed excessive pruning, so that I did for the next day’s gig at XS Malarkey. It ran to an hour and forty minutes! I’d expected a handful of faithful supporters at this gig, but no more (after all, they can see me every week). And over one hundred and fifty came – so thank you so much Malarkey massive. Even if the show was a bit wayward. Chris Brooker’s Keighley gig was packed to the rafters, and they were a terrific bunch who helped me and Matt Green deliver our previews and really test the material. Chris is obviously a well loved and expert host. Holmfirth was a sell out, and a beautiful town with a fantastic audience. A proper arts festival well run and well attended. Then Anthony Brown’s wonderful Chesterfield gig brought me down to Earth – a great, supportive and joyous audience, who listened well and smiled, but were a clear sign that I need to get more laugh-out-loud moments and to sell certain bits better.
As mentioned in my previous blog, Moths came to beautiful Pitlochry, where the audience eased me through effortlessly, and boasted a pleasingly eclectic age range. Kudos to the group of Canadian ladies who had never seen Doctor Who in their lives but went with it, and to the two lads (Darren and Kieron) whose lovely Mum had driven them for two hours to make the gig. I also returned to Bath with the show, to the fantastic Ustinov theatre, where I once again sold out (it’s my third visit to that venue – and last time they added a matinee too, and I’ve also done it at the Rondo up the road: so thank you Bath!). Witty sci-fi writer and loveable reprobate Steve O’Brien was my host – it’s always a joy to see him and his lovely fiancée Britt.
It’s been pretty busy – I’m midway through two DVD documentaries, which I have alluded to before. I will of course, publish accounts of those once the titles are in the shops. I hope people enjoy them. I’ve also done a couple more commentaries, which are always a pleasure if not a little nerve racking.
A few more previews have been announced for Now I Know My BBC, as has some very exciting news. Doctor Who writer Robert Shearman (the brains behind the classic Christopher Eccleston episode Dalek) and I have written a three volume tome entitled Running Through Corridors. We spent last year watching Doctor Who in chronological order, two episodes a day, and sent each other mini essays of our thoughts. The intention being to rediscover our love for the show during Doctor Who’s gap year: and our principle remit being to accentuate the positive as much as possible. Published by Mad Nowegian Press, Volume One will cover the 1960s. It’s only available to order on Amazon US at the moment, but I’m sure that will change soon. It is published in December, although advance copies will be available at Chicago TARDIS this Thanksgiving.
XS Malarkey has had some terrific Edinburgh previews – Paul Sinha exuding his sharp intellect and deep humanity in a brilliantly wrought hour that is certain to garner plaudits. The following week we had a secret special guest, and hopefully the audience were delighted when the majestic John Bishop took to the stage from a brilliant set that displayed his usual apparently effortless hold over an audience. Not bad for £3! Our next one is on a Monday to avoid the date that was England’s potential semi-final at the World Cup (don’t laugh, that seemed like a distinct possibility three weeks ago). Rob Rouse is at that one, with the likes of Brendon Burns, Jason Cook, Seymour Mace, Gary Delaney and Alun Cochrane to follow. Flattering to get such extraordinary talents at our little club.
And I note that English tennis hope Andy Murray is now Scottish tennis also-ran Andy Murray. What a fickle world we live in.