Published on April 13th, 2009 | by Gareth Kavanagh
Reproduced below is just a portion of the Black Scrolls interview with Image of the Fendahl, Robots of Death and Face of Evil writer Chris Boucher, whose work on Doctor Who remains among some of the most enjoyed to this day.
To read the full interview, please download this PDF file.
If however you’re simply content to learn how the Doctor got himself out of a locked room in Image of the Fendahl with an apparently faulty sonic screwdriver, read on…
IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL
AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS BOUCHER
Doctor Whoâ€™s low budget meant certain restrictions for the writer in terms of number of characters, locations, effects and so on. Both Robots of Death and Image of the Fendahl are, in effect, â€˜base under siegeâ€™ stories, limiting the number of locations and characters immediately to a finite space. How much did these limitations affect your writing style knowing the programmeâ€™s format beforehand?
Completely. I aspired to be a professional writer â€“ still do.
One of the great Doctor Who mysteries occurs in this story when someone unseen unlocks the store room to let out the Doctor from his incarceration. The exact person who let him out is never revealed. Was it an writerâ€™s oversight, an unfilmed scene due to time constraints, or a cut scene due to episode duration problems? Or was it a deliberate action, to leave the possibilities open-ended? As the definitive voice on the subject, would you care to lay to rest, once and for all, just who exactly let the Doctor out?
The Doctor did. That little scene was about impatience and frustration. It was another small attempt at humour: an example of Sodâ€™s Law of Mechanical Devices. It took time for the magnetic charge the Doctor was trying to build up using the sonic screwdriver to take effect on what was an old style lock.
There are several jokes in your stories that play up to the mood of the seventies by mocking local bureaucracy and unionism. Stael points a gun at Fendelman, only for Colby to reveal that he has â€œan industrial relations problemâ€. How much was this sense of red-tape confinement defined by your working own personal experience, both previous to your writing career and also the oft-mentioned antics of paid-up BBC union members?
I was and remain “Old Labour” and an unrepentant supporter of unions in principle and in practice. Absurdities have never bothered me much. Perfection is after all an abstract concept. On the day when no worker needs the help and protection of other workers against unconcerned and/or rapacious employers I will cheer myself hoarse. Since I donâ€™t believe in an afterlife however I can say with absolute certainty I shall never see that particular dawn.
To answer your question: they were jokes, nothing more. I would be mortified if they were taken as any sort of endorsement of the attitudes and prejudices of that horrendous bitch Thatcher and her carpet-bagging gang of loathsome thugs and conmen. Objectively speakingâ€¦
Many thanks to Chris Boucher, and to Steve Preston for agreeing to feature the interview on Kasterborous.com
A must-see Tom Baker era adventure, Image of the Fendahl is released on DVD Monday, April 20th 2009 and is available now for pre-order for just Â£12.98 from Amazon!