It was a meeting that changed the course of writer Tom MacRae’s life.
At 19 years-old, the cash-strapped Anthropology student dreamed of being a writer, so when he heard Russell T Davies – who would go on to resurrect Doctor Who – was in town, he wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.
Russell was doing a book signing in London, where I was living and studying. I remember walking down the street at Charing Cross with absolutely no money.
At that time, it was either spend anything I had on food, or go into town and meet him, and I decided to meet him. I wanted to be a writer so I brought my book with me and got it signed by him, asking if he could help me.
That first meeting was the turning point in the young writer’s life:
Russell and I used to get drunk and talk about what we’d do if Doctor Who was brought back. I said you couldn’t bring the Daleks back and suggested making them CGI but he said he’d bring them back exactly as they were.
Spotting a nascent talent Davies took the neophyte writer under his wing forming a lasting friendship culminating in MacRae’s success as an episode writer and as the creator of hit Comedy Central sitcom Threesome:
Russell used to go wherever I was working and give me his thoughts and ideas to develop my stuff on a one-on-one basis, like a tutor. If he’d charged I could never have afforded it. I try to do the same with other young writers.
It was a mixture of fearlessness and youthful naivety that got him through his first assignment for Davies when he received the call to bring back the Doctor’s ancient foes in Rise of the Cybermen and the Age of Steel.
When the Cybermen story came out, I think they all hated me because I was very young and had the job they wanted. A lot of people didn’t like the story as well.
I got some very harsh reviews. But when I came to The Girl Who Waited with Karen Gillan playing an older version of herself in 2011, I was very keen to make it right and it was the hardest I’d ever worked. I was really pleased and showed I’d earned my place at the table. It proved I hadn’t just lucked into it.
With his work on these and the Doctor Who Live Theatrical Experience, The Crash of the Elysium, Tom couldn’t be more thrilled with his contribution to Doctor Who’s fifty year history:
If I get the chance to write for it again, I’d like to bring back something that featured in the very first episode. There are few things that last 50 years, and it’s nice to be part of something that is not just a part of British culture but is also known throughout the world. “It’s something your father, grandfather, and maybe even great grandfather would have watched and it spans all ages.
Tom MacRae will be celebrating 50 Years of Doctor Who on Sunday at Glasgow Film Theatre at 3pm.
(via Daily Record)