A few years ago, I did a novel length piece of work called The New Doctor.
Basically, what happened was back in 1991, there was a local actor named David Burton. He was a semi-big deal in a small town, he had a radio show, a column, did theatre. Anyway, he was trying to get the local dealership to give him a car, for promotional purpose. To help persuade them, he embellished his resume a little bit. Doctor Who was off the air, he figured what harm was there in attaching his name to a defunct children’s show. So he claimed that he was going to be ‘The New Doctor Who.’ It looked good, and when it failed to materialize, he could just say the project fell through, as these things often did.
Unfortunately, Doctor Who was kind of a cult thing, with legions of crazed fans, so he got a lot more attention than he intended. So much so, that he had to make up a more detailed story. A mysterious company, a hush hush pilot project called ‘Monsters of Ness’; shooting at caves, in a small town, a warehouse; even a location shoot in Austria; a red phone booth instead of the blue Tardis; twin girls called Heart and Diamond as companions. None of it was ever verified, and people did try. Eventually, the whole thing faded away.
Okay, that’s the ‘true part’ of the story. The consensus is that it was all a hoax, and personally, I don’t fault Burton at all. He told an innocent little white lie to polish up his resume, and it kind of exploded on him. If anything, I’m sympathetic.
So, I got the idea, what if Burton’s story was true.
Even better, what if it was true, and they’d actually succeeded… somewhat? This was an era when a lot of people were pitching for a license. What if this group had managed to persuade the BBC to let them make a series? Who was this mysterious group, and what would it be like? In my mind, a ramshackle, chaotic, low budget production built itself, massive personality clashes, everyone pulling at cross purposes, not enough time, not enough money, disasters around every corner, plunging from one crisis to another.
So I wrote a sort of novel, inspired by my work on LEXX, research into fan films, into cult TV and movies, and Doctor Who generally. And of course, if I have to do the backstage, I actually had to develop the episodes they were making, the serials and stories they were trying to tell, because those efforts drove the meltdowns behind the scenes.
So… it’s a weird little novel, sort of fanfiction, but not really. It’s about Doctor Who, but not really. It’s about people being drawn together by wild ambition, struggling against each other, and ultimately reconciling. It’s about the pitfalls and nightmares of the creative process and working with other people. I’m genuinely proud of it.
THE NEW DOCTOR
So why am I talking about this now?
Well, because apparently, Covid-19 has some bizarre side effects. When it hit Australia, a young man in Sidney, named James Kyle, found ‘The New Doctor’, and decided – ‘hey, these episodes are pretty good. I’m going to write the full stories.’
Which he then did. And it turned out they were terrific! He’s also designed VHS covers for the episodes, magazine and newspaper reviews, angry letters to editor, and other graphs. It’s just wonderfully demented. James has breathed life into The New Doctor, and I just want to share his work.
It’s great stuff, check it out!