Doctor Who News Ex-Doctor Who Script Editor Andrew Cartmel Chats to the PodKast

Published on April 21st, 2014 | by Danny_Weasel

Andrew Cartmel Clarifies Ben Aaronovitch “New Series” Comments

Last week at while speaking at a Islington’s Archeology and History Society event former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Carmel (1987-1989) mentioned the dreaded omnirumour stating:

They found some episodes in Nigeria, and there’s rumours of more to come. I think we might get all the missing Troughtons. There were rumours for years that there was a cache in Australia, they are now actively going around the world to find them.

Far more tantilising was the prospect of what came next as he went on to mention Remembrance of the Daleks writer and bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch saying that “He has written a Doctor Who story, ready to go”.

This, it would seem is not the case and Andrew has since written on his Facebook page about how out of control the rumour mill had gotten with what was actually said.

Both are, I’m afraid, wild exaggerations — an example of “Chinese whispers”. I said that there is a good chance that more lost episodes will be found and I hope they will find them all. As for Ben, I merely said he has a great idea for a Doctor Who story (which he does). But no one has asked him to work on the show. Sorry to disappoint.

Alas, it seems we are not going to be getting an Aaronovitch script in series eight, but on the plus side we now know that should he be asked he has one lined up and ready to go.

What are your thoughts, do you think that Ben could deliver the goods in the world of new Who? Do you think Cartmel knows more than he is letting on about? You know where to put your words of wisdom folks.


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58 Responses to Andrew Cartmel Clarifies Ben Aaronovitch “New Series” Comments

  1. avatar gruff says:

    Would love to see Ben Aaronovitch back, Remembrance was one of my favourites as a kid.
    Must get around to reading his novels, which were recommended to me by the chap behind the till at my local Waterstones, just that life and Who get in my way.

  2. avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

    I think that Ben would be a good person to come in on the new version of Doctor Who. It would show the Nu Who fans that people from the Classic Era DO know how to write!

    • avatar mrjohnm says:

      If there is one thing the new series has done, it’s revitalized a love of the original. Several of my students, who love the new series, have taken it upon themselves to track down the Virgin range of novels. So far, they’ve been enjoying what they’ve read, so I think the Nu Who fans are quite aware of what the Classic Era writers can do.

      • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

        I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. Most fans of the New Era DO NOT WANT to know anything about the Classic Era! You try and explain it to them, they blow you off, saying that anything that does not fit in a 45 minute episode is NOT WORTH WATCHING! I hear and read that a LOT on Facebook and with others that I know of. THEY DO NOT WANT ANYTHING TO DO WIT THE CLASSIC ERA! For them, the only time that matters is what RTD and Moffat have created.

        • avatar mrjohnm says:

          I think the reaction in the theater when the previous Doctors appeared, and the reaction when Tom Baker actually spoke with Matt, and the reaction to the Paul McGann mini episode, proves that today’s generation is more than eager to experience the original series.

          • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

            90% of those in the United States did not get to see the Anniversary Special in theaters. It was only available like that in major cities. We had to watch it on BBC America, if we were fortunate to have that cable channel. I got to see it thanks to some people I know from a Podcast that I sometimes help out with, who sent it to me. As I said, most of the fans these days, DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE CLASSIC ERA! They only want what is spoon fed to them by Moffat and his crew.

          • avatar mrjohnm says:

            As there seems to be no ‘reply’ button to Harry’s statement below, I’ll ‘reply’ to the statement I made as a way to reply to his below. Harry, I saw the episode for free on BBC America on the day it aired world-wide at my parents’ house! The following Saturday, my wife and I saw it again in 3D at the local theater in Destin, Fl. which is not what I would call a “major” city. The show was sold out, people were dressed in different incarnations of the Doctor (Tom Baker’s version seemed to be a favorite), and everyone cheered at all the moments I mentioned earlier. As for your percentage, where exactly are you getting this number? You are starting to sound like my 12th grade writing students who pull “statistics” out of the air just to try to make their writing sound professional. And no, Facebook is not a valid source.

          • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

            I did not have BBC America at the time that the 50th was aired. To view the special in 3d, which is what was advertised, you had to go to a movie theater to see it. And those theaters were only in major cities such as Chicago, New York, and other major cities. I found this out from links that were posted on Facebook, on different Doctor Who groups there. And as far as my view that the show is being watered down and pitched toward teens, take a look at the numbers and the number of hits on Twitter for the show as well as those who do the posting. Its TEENAGERS! Its time the BBC stopped doing that, and get a producer and production staff in place that is not so much willing to do this, and try and give the show a different feel to it.

          • The majority of Twitter users are under 20. Ergo, there are a lot of teenagers.

          • avatar mrjohnm says:

            I’m sorry that you did not have BBC America at this time, but did you not read my post? My wife and I saw the 3D film at Destin, Florida. This is not a major city like Chicago or New York. In fact, the closest ‘major’ city would be Tallahassee, or maybe Pensacola. And neither one of those rank up there with Chicago or New York. And, as I remember, the episode made more money that one night than Chasing Fire did the same night, so I would think it played nationwide. In fact, I know it did.

          • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

            I did read it, and am surprised that you got it in a non major city. Where I live at, the only options were to either drive to one of the Chicago Suburbs, or one of the St. Louis Suburbs. But, I did not care for the special. To me, it was NOT a true 50th anniversary special. If it were, it would have been more like the 20th than what we got. This was more of Moffat’s idea of a 50th, a tribute to himself and his mind than anything else.

          • avatar TonyS says:

            Harry, in what way should it have been more like the 20th? All the Doctors?

          • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

            YES! I know that with the first three actors who portrayed the Doctor being dead, you could not use them, but they could have used clips or stand ins such as was done with Richard Hurndall did for Hartnell in the 20th. And another thing that was wrong with the 50th: Why use only pictures of former companions? Many of them are still alive! It would have been much better to have at least one, if not more, of the previous companions in the story, instead of just showing pictures of them. To me, it shows just how much a liar and hypocrite that Moffat is.

          • Harry, please tone it down or we will begin moderating your comments.

          • avatar TonyS says:

            Do the words “all thirteen of them” ring a bell? Have you not heard who were under the dust sheets covering the Zygons when they were playing musical statues?

            “The Five Doctors” while (arguably) celebrating twenty years of the programmes barely holds together as a story.

            At no point did Mr Moff say that there would be loads of old Doctors or old companions in the special. So in what way is he a liar and a hypocrite? You may not like the man or what he does with the programme, but let’s steer clear of the vituperation, eh?!

        • avatar Philip Bates says:

          I was introduced to Who through the 2005 series, but have since caught up with it all. The sales of Classic DVDs and their abundance in shops seems to indicate that a lot of new fans turned to classic Who too.

          I work in a shop part-time, and was surprised to see a teenager run to a Classic DVD and beg their parents to buy it. Strangely, it was the parent who dismissed it; I think youngsters see past things we now deem as ‘wobbly sets’ (even though very few stories are plagued with this) and focus on the story. It is the adults who don’t see past it, perhaps because their love of the show is exposed in front of other adults who may be skeptical, so feel they must criticise. It’s silly, but true.

          And what’s more, I loved Day of the Doctor. Moffat went out of his way to say that no classic Doctors or companions would appear, so the glimpses we got were magical. I would’ve liked to have seen perhaps Davison and McCoy turn up in person, but what we got, to me, was perfect.

          • avatar mrjohnm says:

            Philip, I had a student of mine last year come to class thrilled to find the local library was now carrying the classic Who DVDs. So yes, the younger generation is involved with both the old and new series.

        • avatar castellanspandrel says:

          Did you read the DWM story poll results breakdown? Lots of love from younger fans for the old stories.

          • avatar castellanspandrel says:

            Sorry, my last post was for Harry.

    • avatar Simon Magellan says:

      I do not believe anyone has the right to use abusive and insulting language against others – it’s just trolling. How would you feel if I called you a liar and a hypocrite?

    • avatar kamelo says:

      Well, the fact that Andrew Cartmel thinks it is a good script is likely to put the kybosh on it being commissioned. Lets not forget that, while some may disagree, Andrew Cartmel’s three years as Script Editor were three of the five worst years the show ever had – the other two being Tom Baker and Colin Bakers’ last seasons.

      The best writers of the original series are mostly dead. The only two exceptions are Terrance Dicks and Eric Saward.

      Ben did a great job with Remembrance, and that serial stands as Sylvester’s finest hour as the Doctor. Battlefield, in contrast, was utter garbage. The saving grace, however, is that it is nowhere near as bad as Time And The Rani, Paradise Towers, or the embarrasing Happiness Patrol. Or Delta. Or

      On a completely train thought… I often if Sydney Newman ever watched Happiness Patrol and what he thought of it. If I had had created Dr Who back in the 60s and watched Happiness Patrol or Battlefield or Paradise Towers, I would have cried. And cried. Writers too preoccupied with trying to make political statements (Graeme Curry) and writing garbage as a consequence. And, I dont think his career has been that distinguished since, if im not mistaken. No surprises there.

      • avatar Rick says:

        Andrew Cartmel raised the quality of Doctor Who for the first time in years.
        Yes, his first series was terrible, his second hit and miss (but no more then the program is now). Season 26 was brilliant, and stands as one of the best in the program’s history.
        Of course this is a matter of opinion, but the myth that Doctor Who was unwatchable in it’s last years was spread by tabloids and non-fans. It’s sad to see it still being spread even now.

        • Sad to see it being spread by fans, too.

  3. avatar Paul Kennedy says:

    Don’t forget what happened with So Vile a Sin. If any old-series author is commissioned to write for the new series, it won’t be Ben Aaronovitch.

    • avatar mrjohnm says:

      To what, exactly, are you referring? As I understand, Kate Orman was commissioned to write “Sin” but her computer crashed, causing her to lose most of the text. Ben stepped in and helped her finish it. Of course, I could have that story backwards, and it was Ben’s computer that crashed. But how would any of this be a reason to prevent him from writing an episode for the new series.

  4. avatar Richard Forbes says:

    If Robert Holmes were alive, I suspect he would be one of the few (only?) Classic writers that Moffat would reach out to. The man had television in his blood.

  5. avatar Ian says:

    On the one hand, I’d love to see Aaronovitch get a go. On the other hand, the format for New Who seems so entrenched and immovable that I’m not sure any writer could really make an individual impact. Every episode seems to turn out exactly the same regardless. The days of “authorship” of Who stories are long gone.

  6. avatar mrjohnm says:

    If I remember correctly, and I could just leave my computer for a few minutes, head to my library, and look for the book, but I believe Ben was the one who created the Chelonians. Since they were mentioned in the Pandorica episodes, I think having Ben write an episode with them in it would be great!

    • No – Gareth Roberts created them, first appearance being in The Highest Science

      • avatar mrjohnm says:

        Thanks Christian. I’m sure I recall them in a book Ben wrote, though. Or is my age starting to catch up with me!

        • Age? Certainly was with me. I had to check Wikipedia – a few years ago I could have reeled off that fact with ease!

  7. avatar Christine says:

    I really loved Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield (also by Ben, but much less celebrated by most of the fans) but I must admit that his New Adventure novel Transit just didn’t do it for me. So, I’m not sure about this. But, it would be nice to see a classic writer retearn.

  8. avatar Ranger says:

    Yes, I loved Remembrance and Battlefield, so would like to see what he could do with the new format. what intrigues me though is that Carmel was speaking at a Archaeology and History event…is classic DW now regarded as Archaeology?!

    • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

      Except for a small number of fans, most of the Nu Who fans consider the Classic Era as the past and something to be ignored for forgotten.

      • One only has to look at the success of Doctor Who on Netflix and its current run on the Horror Channel to see that this isn’t true. Perhaps in your personal experience it may be, but generally speaking, I suspect not.

        • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

          I hear it a lot on Facebook, and most people in my area of the United States would rather watch the New Version, and ignore the classic era.

          • avatar TonyS says:

            Then they are missing out on a heck of a lot.

            And, as Christian has suggested, I am not convinced that your experience is typical.

          • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

            No disrespect intended, but over 90% of those on the Doctor Who Facebook groups, unless it is news about missing episodes being found, prefer the Nu era to the Classic era. They only know what they get online and from twitter from those that fill them in on what is going on. That is the way the show is set up these days, for those who want everything now. They don’t want to have the patience that was shown during the classic era.

          • avatar TonyS says:

            What you read on social media sites, such as Facebook, is predicated by your contacts. I read nothing about the clamour for Nu-Who only. This is because the only two Dr Who contacts I have are Kasterborous and Dr Who Online.

            What answer you get depends on who you ask!

  9. avatar TonyS says:

    I do not know “most fans of the New Era” and so do not have access to their opinions…

    • avatar DonnaM says:

      Tony, eminently sensible words! I know a few young “fans of the new era” and the vast majority of them are quite receptive to the Classic series too. I’m sorry Harry’s experience is different, but what can you do? Facebook, obviously, is for Philistines :-)

      • avatar simon magellan says:

        I work at a college – last year, around the anniversary, I heard lots of students talking about the series, both old and new – and appreciatingly, not disparagingly. Contrary to popular belief, Facebook is not the be all and end all of life – the fact that some “fans” on it don’t like the old series (if this is indeed the case) means nothing – the huge success of the anniversary last year, with its many nods to the past (including the Night of the Doctor) proves that there must be some appetite for the past of the show by somebody!

        • avatar mrjohnm says:

          Simon, I would love to work at a college! In the meantime, I’ll just keep introducing my high school students to Dr. Who so that they’re prepared for you when they get to your class!

          • avatar Simon Magellan says:

            College as in the British meaning, not the US! Our students are mainly 16-18 years old, so I believe this would be similar to your High Schools?

          • avatar mrjohnm says:

            Okay Simon. It sounds as if we teach the same age group! Are you, like me, suffering from hair loss as well!

  10. avatar Simon Magellan says:

    Regardless of his links to the old series, BA is surely the kind of writer we should encourage? He’s an acclaimed and award winning novelist with an interest in DW. Sound familiar? Others that would fit would be Stephen Baxter and CJ Sansom (for an historical). Biggest disappointment of the new series so far has been its the same old names – bit of new blood wouldn’t go amiss.

  11. avatar Philip Bates says:

    I’d love to see some classic writers come in, but I’m perfectly happy with the trickle of new talent added each series. Last year, we got Neil Cross, which I was very happy about, alongside experienced Who writers like Gatiss and Whithouse.

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      I often wonder if I’m the only person who thought “Luther” was badly written! Still a bit staggered that it won a Writers Guild award. As for his DWs – Rings was bland (I’m struggling to remember much of it) and while Hide was much better, it’s roots in Nigel Kneale’s “Stone Tape” may have played a part in that. It also had a dreadful ending – though that may have been forced on Cross by the Producers, you can’t always tell – but I prefer a monsetr who’s a monster, not a love sick teenager!

  12. Ben’s a great writer. His Peter Grant series of novels are superb and one of the main characters Thomas Nightingale is a little Doctorish as well.
    I can’t understand why he’s never been asked to write for the reboot, when charlatans like Neil Gaiman get commissioned.

    • Neil Gaiman a “charlatan”?

      You’re going to have to back that claim up with some weighty evidence to avoid losing credibility…

    • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

      From what I have seen, neither RTD or Moffat want anyone from the Classic era back on the show in any form. Notice that in the 50th, Tom Baker was NOT addressed as the Doctor, but as the Caretaker. It seems that the policy is to ignore anyone and anything that has to do with the classic era.

      • avatar simon magellan says:

        Apart from all the old Doctors seen in the Gallifrey sequence, the old Doctors seen in Name, Davros, Daleks, Cybermen, Macra, The Master, UNIT, Sarah Jane, K9 …

        • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

          Outside of Davros, Sarah Jane, and K-9, the ONLY appearances of the old companions was in pictures in the 50th anniversary story! And with so many of the former companions and Doctors getting up there in years, we need to get them out there to be seen.

          • avatar Simon Magellan says:

            Your posts are coloured by your dislike of Moffat – whatever he did, you’d complain.

            In the classic series, outside of anniversaries only one story features an old Doctor alongside a new one, and old companions rarely reappeared, excepting the Brig. Why should the new one be any different? There has, in fact, especially since Moffat took over, been much more of a openness to the old series, for example the old Doctors appearing in The Eleventh Hour.

            I would be quite happy for the show to concentrate on the future, with a new Dr rather than spend it’s time looking backwards at a supposed Golden Age.

          • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

            I admit, I am not a fan of Moffat. But, there is a old expression: Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it. Mofat’s refusal to remember the past, or to rewrite for his own purposes, destroys everything that the classic series was and is.

          • avatar Nick says:

            Harry, these former Doctor’s are not actually Timelords. They are all too physically different to return. It would be nothing short of tokenistic to out them in. I know Moffat explained away Davidon being older in Time Crash as some sort of side effect on him being brought into 10s timestream, but even that was years ago now.

            The classic Doctors are wonderful but they are simply too old. No, I’m not being ageist, just realistic. There are constant reminders of the classic series in modern Who.

            When Jon Pertwee returned in the Five Doctors it was only 9 years since his last appearance. It is 30 years since Davison’s (not inc TC), 28 years since Colin’s and 25 since McCoy’s classic run ended (ok, 18 if you count the TV movie).

            Bringing back the old Doctor’s is about nostalgia for our youths not about trying to make a great TV show.

            And stop relying on Facebook and Twitter for your viewer feedback, clearly you’re going to get younger viewers. However, my 13 and 10 year old step kids love watching old Who. We just watched Caves of Androzani. There, even Androzani was mentioned in the new series!

          • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

            HELLO! When it comes to companions, several of them are still active! William Russell, Carole Ann Ford, Deborah Watling among others, are still active even though they are up there in years, along with Katy Manning! And I am not saying what I am saying just because of Facebook or Twitter! I say this because it is my opinion, my feelings on the matter. To ignore companions of old, to only show them via photographs, is a DISGRACE to the people who have portrayed them!!!! And as far as the previous Doctors, you could have used clips from other stories to fill them in. It seems, as I have said before, Moffat and the BBC DO NOT WANT anyone who worked during the Classic Era to work on anything associated with Nu Who!

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      “charlatans like Neil Gaiman get commissioned.”


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