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Published on May 22nd, 2011 | by Patrick Riley

Writers We Want For Doctor Who

It’s incredible how much high-calibre writing talent Doctor Who can attract.

Douglas Adams, who would go on to write The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Terry Nation, who would go on to engineer Survivors and Blake’s 7, and Dennis Spooner all have their names stamped on multiple opening vortex sequences, as well as not-quite-as-famous-but-fairly-well-known personalities like Mark Gatiss, Paul Cornell, Russell T. Davies, and Steven Moffat.  And do we even need to mention Neil Gaiman?

However, for as many brilliant writers who have joined forces with the Doctor Who team, there are at least 25 million other big names who still haven’t.  Here’s a list of the top currently-living people, in no particular order, that we’d like to see lose their Doctor-Who-writing virginity:
Michael Moorcock's The Coming of the Terraphiles

Michael Moorcock

Technically he already has written for Doctor Who if you count his novel The Coming of the Terraphiles, but book Doctor Who and TV Doctor Who aren’t really the same thing, and the latter is consumed by a considerably larger number of people.  As you can gather from the aforelinked Kasterborous review, we found Terraphiles to be rather fab, a concept that could potentially work well on the telly.  The question isn’t really “should Michael Moorcock write for Doctor Who?”  Instead, we should be asking “what should he write?”  Would we like to see an adaptation of Terraphiles much like Paul Cornell did with Human Nature?  Or do we want something new?

Even the great Neil Gaiman recognizes Moorcock’s importance to the sci-fi-verse, with his famous quote on the cover of Terraphiles:

“My debt to Michael Moorcock is unrepayable.”

Just look at this impossibly extensive list of novels and short stories that the bearded genius (no, not the Kasterborous one called Andy Reynolds) has come up with!  A 50-to-60-page Doctor Who script should be no sweat.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, & Peter Jackson

Okay, so The Lovely Bones might have been a slight stumbling block, but for the most part this screenwriting trio made famous for their thrilling adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and subsequent excellent remake of King Kong could very likely combine minds to come up with an excellent, albeit different, take on Doctor Who.

Perhaps the TARDIS could travel to Middle Earth, which is being ravaged by a giant gorilla until he sees and becomes fond of Amy Pond, and resolves to climb with her to the top of the Tower of Isengard where he’s shot down by flying walking talking trees.

Actually, it would probably be better if they came up with something new.

Of course, they’re currently all tied up with the upcoming two-part film epic The Hobbit, which stars Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown, not to mention Sherlock star Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Stephen Fry, whom we’ll discuss further in a minute, as the Master of Laketown, although we think it would make a better plot twist if they just took the whole “of Laketown” part out of his character’s name and had Mr. Fry regenerate into John Simm.  Perhaps Mr. Moffat can phone up Peter Jackson when they’re done with the LotR prequel (the two have worked together before on Tintin, after all) and beg for an episode from the three that could even be directed by Peter!  The only downside is that the episode’s entire budget might go into paying their salaries.

J.K. Rowling

She’s probably the least likely person on this list to actually write an episode, because the production crew’s already tried it before, as you may recall.  It’s no secret that Russell T. Davies was/is a Harry Potter fan; you just have to pop The Shakespeare Code into your DVD player if you want proof of that.  It was Mr. Davies’ wish that she actually pen a story for Series 1, which she politely declined, saying she was

“…amused by the suggestion, but simply [didn't] have the time.”

Now that she’s finished her boy wizard saga, perhaps her schedule’s more flexible?

Years later, RTD was inspired to consider asking her to star in the show instead.  A magical tale featuring Rowling and the Doctor surrounded by witches and wizards was what we might have had in lieu of The Next Doctor if David Tennant hadn’t changed the showrunner’s mind.

Anyone who’s read Rowling’s complete published works, which is mostly limited to the Potterverse at the moment, won’t deny that she’s a fantastic writer, and it would be beyond awesome if she composed a bit of Doctor Who.  Our only request, if by some miracle she changes her mind and offers up a story, is that it be something new, original, and nothing to do with sorcery.  Otherwise, it would just be the ‘spoof’ that Tennant famously tried to avoid.
Doctor Who star Matt Smith

Matt Smith

This choice may surprise you, but we think the Eleventh Doctor should write an episode for himself!  There’s certainly no precedent for it, and it would be cool to see a Doctor actor have even more control over his incarnation’s behaviour.

Plus anyone who’s read the Production Notes column in Doctor Who Magazine 423 knows the man can write creatively, if somewhat bizarrely.  Here’s an excerpt from that which sees Matt describing the Grand Moff:

“Steven Moffat, Steven Moffat.  Where to begin?  Fact One: He’s a genius.  Complete bona fide genius.  To my mind the greatest TV writer there is…  Fact Two: he’s peculiar.  Completely and utterly peculiar.  More peculiar than a rabbit that walks like an ostrich.”

Er… sure you’re not describing yourself in Fact Two there, Matt?  That reminds us of another reason why Matt could write for his Doctor so well – all he has to do is write about himself!  As executive producer Piers Wenger put it (in the same Production Notes article, no less),

“When Matt ‘acts’ as the Doctor, eats fish custard, flirts with Vampire Girls, faces the Daleks with only a jammy dodger as a deterrent, that’s actually Matt himself, just a bit toned down…”

Plus we’ve also heard about how Matt writes about his characters as he prepares to play them.  And he’s already publicly stated that he wants to write an episode of Doctor Who.  He’s able, he’s willing, and an episode straight from his mind, if promoted properly, could bring in swarms of viewers.  What are you waiting for, Moffat?

Stephen Fry

We’re still waiting, sir.

So what do you think?  Agree with these?  Disagree?  Any other writers you’d add to the list?  This article was purely and unashamedly created for the sole purpose of spawning some discussion, so click the reply button and get discussing!

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About the Author

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Patrick is a temporal hitchhiker who spends most of his time in the future. His favourite Doctor is the Fourteenth. If you're especially lucky, you might even hear him tweet to all you merry folk in the past @10PatrickRiley.




2 Responses to Writers We Want For Doctor Who

  1. avatar 23skidoo says:

    Full agreement on JK Rowling. It’s not as if she has anything else going on right now, right?

    Matt Smith? Yes, I think I agree. Let’s create another milestone and have him write one. Precedent was set when Noel Clarke wrote a Torchwood episode, and Colin Baker has published several Doctor Who stories over the years. Let’s have Matt give it a go!

    Other names: Terry Pratchett would be a perfect fit, I think, especially since The Beast Below riffed on a number of his concepts anyway. Alan Moore I’ve been pushing for for years, and he already has Doctor Who cred through his work with DWM in the early days. Grant Morrison, also.

    I also think bringing in a one-off American ringer would also be interesting, someone like J Michael Strczynski or however you spell that, or Ronald B Moore (since we already have one of Galactica’s writers on Torchwood).

    I’ve been rewatching Red Dwarf recently, and I would be curious to see what kind of story Doug Naylor could come up with for DW.


    • You mention Americans and that reminds me – BBC, if you’re reading this, I’m *definitely* available to do an episode if you’re interested (or just taking a severe budget cut) ;)

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