The life of a writer can be very difficult at times. There’s endless rewrites of a script or manuscript, delicate plotting of characters and ensuring that there aren’t any plot holes that you could drive a Dalek Crucible through.
But when we’re presented with the finished product of a book or television show or play or film, every little problem has been ironed out so meticulously that it’s hard to imagine their being a problem in the first place.
So with that in mind, it’s refreshing to read about some of the less glamorous aspects of writing a Doctor Who script that Neil Gaiman, writer of this year’s Doctor Who episode Nightmare in Silver, has listed in a recent interview with the Radio Times.
Gaiman reveals part of the genesis behind Clara Oswald as well, stating that she wasn’t always the ‘impossible girl’ that we’re all wondering about now:
The original companion was going to be very much the Victorian governess we saw at Christmas [2012’s The Snowmen]… then they [the Doctor Who production team, we presume] said they’d changed the companion from what I was expecting to something else… We decided they can do more weird stuff if it’s now the contemporary third incarnation so I had to reshape it so it wasn’t the governess.
And from the original brief to the one that he ended up with, Gaiman took Clara and sculpted her character remarkably well for his episode, despite the fact that he had very little in terms of source material to work from:
What I got was the scene that Steven Moffat wrote as the Clara character audition piece…he sent me that and said ‘This is what she sounds like’. But from that you just make her up as you go along.
However, the most interesting aspect of the interview is Gaiman’s is his thoughts on the production process for a Doctor Who script and what he would like to do with one in the future:
On the one hand I don’t have time to write Doctor Who…It doesn’t pay very well, but you also have to rewrite it and rewrite it and rewrite it and never get paid, whereas in America you get paid for every rewrite…on the other hand, I haven’t done an episode set on Earth yet, and I haven’t created a new monster. And there’s part of me that feels… I haven’t scared anybody yet… The Cybermen has a few little scary bits but it’s running at about a 5 of 6. I’d love to a 9.
The Cybermen were certainly far more threatening in Nightmare in Silver than they’ve been in the last few years, their newly upgraded abilities making them far more deadly and unpredictable enemies. But what do you think?
Would you like to see Gaiman tackle the Cybermen again, perhaps the Daleks, maybe the Yeti or do you think he should create his own monster to send all of us to cower behind the sofa…?