Jonathan Morris is the writer of a number of Doctor Who books and audios, and this weekend sees the release of Hothouse as the second story in Big Finish’s latest Eighth Doctor season.
Starring Paul McGann as the Doctor and Sheridan Smith as Lucie Miller, Hothouse also guest stars Lysette Anthony and Nigel Planer (pictured below with Sheridan Smith).
Jonathan – you’ve been given the keys to one of Doctor Who’s most formidable and much admired monsters. Are you nervous as to how Hothouse and the long awaited return of the Krynoid might be received?
Not nervous at all. Excited. I hope fans of The Seeds Of Doom will feel I’ve done the Krynoids justice. I also hope that people who haven’t seen The Seeds Of Doom will get a lot out of it. The difficulty with returning monsters is finding a balance between retaining whatever-it-was that made them successful in the first place without simply repeating what has gone before.
So with Hothouse I’ve tried to update them a little but not too much. The other problem with the Krynoid is that they were very ‘visual’ monsters and of finding a way of making them work on audio, where the story is told through the dialogue. On the other hand, the fact that a lot of people will already know what they look like should make visualising the story a lot easier.
You’ve got a former rock star Alex Marlow in possession of the Krynoid and an environmentalism-driven plot, not to mention Lucie Miller becoming Marlow’s fanatical acolyte – it’s not that far away from reading the papers and the gossip mags, is it?
I think it’s important for Doctor Who to take place in a recognisable version of the real world. I even wittered about the subject at great length in a recent Doctor Who Magazine. As a fan myself, I like stories to have a sense of immediacy. Hothouse is a realistic, but not particularly optimistic, extrapolation of where we might be going.
Stuart Crossman and Adna Sabylich
Hothouse has a rather smashing cast, with Nigel Planer and Lysette Anthony guest starring alongside Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith. Were you particularly pleased with either of these?
It’s one of the most exciting parts of the production, hearing from Barney Edwards which actors he’s been approaching and finding out who has said ‘yes’. He really does shoot for the moon with his casting and you can see the results for yourself. I think that the casts the audios attract are fantastic, and maybe it’s something that Nick and Barney don’t get enough credit for. I can’t say I was particularly pleased about any individual cast member – I was hugely delighted with all of them equally!
I’ve been looking forward to this release as I’m a big fan of The Seeds of Doom – I love Tony Beckley as Chase, and John Challis is great as Scorbie. In fact there isn’t a bad performance in there. Did you refer back to the original at any point, or are you pretty familiar with it by now?
I did watch it again, taking notes, just to make sure I got the terminology used to describe the Krynoid transformation process correct, and to get the continuity as right as possible. The Seeds Of Doom is an odd story. It’s incredibly well-made, absolutely gripping, and yet in some ways it feels more like an episode of The Avengers than an episode of Doctor Who. With Hothouse I’ve tried to echo that.
Jonathan Morris (left) with Big Finish’s Jason Haigh-Ellery
Finally, Hothouse is the second story to be released under Big Finish’s excellent idea of Saturday evening downloads. What are your thoughts on the concept? Did you have any concerns about how the idea might be received?
I think the concept has the potential to be really exciting. One of the great things about being a Doctor Who fan is when everyone gets to see or hear an episode at the same time and so everyone is talking about the same thing at once. It creates a sense of occasion. I hope – and expect – as the weeks go by for the interest to build, as people get into the regular habit of downloading on a Saturday and the fans who aren’t taking part realise they are missing out on something which is a lot of fun. It’s the most important form of advertising there is, word of mouth, so if you’re enjoying the series, please tell your friends. And it’s never too late to join – and Hothouse is a very good place to start!
Keep up with Jonathan Morris and his work at his blog, underthreehundred.blogspot.com.
Meanwhile, find out more about Hothouse and the rest of Big Finish’s superb output at www.bigfinish.com!
(And finally, thanks to Barnaby Edwards for the accompanying photos!)