If there’s one thing we Doctor Who fans like, it’s facts. Well, some of us anyway, and this new book from Cavan Scott and Mark Wright highlights the fun and interesting trivia the show is awash with. Here they chat about this and what else they’re working on, exclusively revealing an upcoming Destiny of the Doctors audio adventure…
Are you lifelong Doctor Who fans?
Cavan: As long as I can remember. I watched it even though Tom Baker terrified me. Not the monsters – Tom. Strangely, I made paper mache doll of the Fourth Doctor in school. One day he fell into a bucket of water and regenerated into a pulpy mush. I wasn’t prepared for that end.
Mark: Absolutely, right back to Robot Part One for me, although I have some residual memories of later Pertwee stories. I have definite memories of Belal in Death to the Daleks, and the spiders on their perches in Planet of the Spiders. It’s always been there, right from being very young.
Cavan: Tricky one, this. Tom was my first Doctor and then I enjoyed the show with Peter [Davison] in the lead. But I think it was Colin [Baker]’s Doctor that first sparked my imagination. He was so big and brash and, well, loud. I remember heading to the playground the day after episode of The Twin Dilemma and re-enacting the scene where the Sixth Doctor strangled Peri with my mate Gareth. He was Peri because a) I was taller and b) I wasn’t going to be strangled.
I also discovered the Doctor Who comic strip at the same time and fell in love with the surreal storylines and John Ridgeway’s scratchy art. When I think of the Sixth Doctor I still imagine him as drawn by Ridgeway rather than what we saw on screen. K9 and the Fourth Doctor got me watching; the Sixth Doctor made me a fan.
Mark: Tom Baker was the Doctor when I was very little, so I very much grew up with him as the Doctor, up until I was ten. And then it was Peter Davison, who remains my all time favourite. This is the cross-over point where I became a definite fan – The Five Faces of Doctor Who repeat season was a lot to do with cementing my fan credentials, so by the time Peter’s first episode was broadcast, I was very much in for the long haul by then. He was brilliant and worked so hard to lift every episode he appeared in.
How did the book come about?
Cavan: I’d previously written four non-Doctor Who titles for BBC Books – three Countryfile books and the companion to Planet Dinosaur. Ever since then I’d been bugging [Editorial Director at BBC Books] Albert de Petrilo to let me and my Doctor Who writing partner Mark loose on a Doctor Who book. Then one afternoon I received a call from Albert…
Mark: I do a lot of work for the team at DWM, and was in the office that day. A call from Cav came through. He’d had a call from Albert, asking if we’d like to put together a miscellany covering 50 years of Doctor Who. I’d loved the Schott’s Miscellany books that came out a few years ago, so instantly got what Albert was angling for. I think we said yes immediately.
Did it take long to write?
Cavan: The writing took around three months although the planning and research took a lot longer. Especially having to do things like go back and watch every episode featuring the Daleks to see how many times they said ‘Exterminate’ or any of its variations.
Mark: As Cav says, the actual writing process was a furious three months, but the research took a lot longer to prepare and have the material to be able to put down on page. Lots of plundering the Archive features from DWM (Andrew Pixley is truly one of the unsung heroes of Doctor Who) and ploughing through episode after episode.
Did you write different sections or co-write everything?
Cavan: We split the sections between us and then passed them back and forth adding details and checking facts. Then there were the long Skype sessions when we ran through the various lists, making sure we didn’t miss how many vehicles the Doctor has driven or the disguises he’s worn or the foods he’s eaten.
Mark: Technology plays a large part in the way we write these days. Things like Google docs, Dropbox and Skype have really changed the process of working in a partnership over the last decade, which is great when you live at different ends of the country. Largely, it was split into sections, but we could swap and change if we needed to. It was very satisfying seeing the progress sheet gradually turn red as we completed sections.
Was there any section of trivia that never made it into the book?
Cavan: Yes, but we’ll like to keep those close to our chests so we can include them in Who-ology 2 if it ever happens. Besides, as we now know how many people the Daleks have killed on screen, we need an excuse to count how many deaths the Cybermen have caused and compare and contrast.
Mark: Lot of little bits here and there, but hopefully they can be included in something further down the line. We’ll have to wait and see.
What is your favourite piece of trivia from the book?
Cavan: I really enjoyed compiling the Master’s Mad-o-metre, compiling just how bonkers the Doctor’s best enemy’s plans actually are on a story-by-story basis. Then there’s the list of Doctor Who stories that name check themselves. And Ben Morris’ amazing family tree and… oh, too many to list.
Mark: I think the list of how long it would take to watch all of Doctor Who is top of my list. 40 ways to defeat a Dalek is great fun, and the 50 Year Diary was a nice way to start the book. My favourite probably changes every time I’m asked that question. I would also like to give a give big shout out for Ben Morris, whose illustrations throughout the book are magnificent. Ben worked so hard on these that he deserves as much credit for Who-ology as we do.
How will you be celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary?
Cavan: Well, hopefully watching it with my girls. They’re 7 and 4 and have just started watching Who. My poor, long-suffering non-fan wife now has to cope with three of us babbling on about Davros and TARDISes and jelly babies for hours on end. My eldest told me today that she wants to be like Ace when she grows up. I hope this has nothing to do with blowing things up and everything to do with having a Blue Peter badge.
Mark: I’ll be at home in Halifax watching with my family, and hopefully a few old mates will be around for that too. My stepson isn’t as into the series as I am, but we still enjoy watching together as a family.
So what are working on next?
Cavan: We’ve just finished writing Night of the Whisper, our Ninth Doctor story which is part of AudioGo’s Destiny of the Doctor series of audio books. Other than that, we have a number of joint scripts in the works for Big Finish and I’m working on new stories for Black Library’s Warhammer 40,000 series plus new activity and chapter books for Puffin Books.
Mark: I’ve recently been producing Vienna and Graceless for Big Finish which will both be released later this year, as well as lots of script work for Big Finish. I wrote a play a year ago called Looking for Vi, which has been turned into a short film, which should see the light of day later this year, and I’m also working up a pitch for a children’s book series.
Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, thank you very much.
You can buy Who-ology from Amazon for just £7.92! We’ll have a review of the book in the next few days…