As we head in to the on air replays of a remastered Ep1 tomorrow and finalise the scripts for S2 I thought again of some of the inspirations for the Whoniverse. It began all those years ago with an australian script writer in the shadow of a possible nuclear war, with themes of child welfare, tribal conflict over technological advantage and aired the day after the assassination of president JFK.
Science fiction is a perfect medium to explore uncomfortable themes lightly for our general audience, without making fun of it. G rated being free to air, no visually graphic content. Radio gives us a lot of freedom and an unlimited wardrobe budget ( yay!) The corny fantasy aspects work in our favour here – no one is going to take it too seriously … and yet…
Tropes burned into the collective consciousness
Adam the chief script writer is rather young and living in the lucky country. He is of the generation of australians who are not convicts, refugees of war or bad economics, and yet those themes will be threaded throughout. In production EP1 working title was Terror of France since it is set in the Napoleonic era but before it hit the airwaves Paris was rocked by the first of a string of terrorist attacks! So it was a rapidly renamed Citizen of Gallifrey pts 1-4 (because titles are just hard ok?)
Terry the companion is accidentally shoved into the dangerous universe from his comfy hipster lifestyle. Unlike the usual BBC companions he’s neither courageous nor particularly bright, although he has a handy knowledge of what the actor Michael Rutter calls ‘pub facts’. But by ep8 I had him step up, up meaning a whole 93 floors, and help unite two economically divided races. The currency is water – the currency that literally underlies the conflict in the Gaza strip which sits over an aquifer.
What would Terry say?
Actually I think we only continue to teach Shakespeare at school so the generations have some common ground other than today’s weather. ‘Miles’ is still ok with millenials as ‘kilometres does not roll lightly off the tongue’, but ‘acres’ is largely out. So ‘miles of redbrick roofs’ it is.
A doctor who can say what she wants?
and then there is the whole fanfic thing of what does and does not upset auntie. I joined up to this production to have a go at script writing but also because i was INCENSED at the ageism and ownership of imagination that some people think the word copyright implies. Free speech is bandwith worth fighting for. So BBC freely broadcast into your home, set out to inspire young minds, and literally ‘capture’ their imagination. After making a false sense of friendship blossom, suddenly ‘auntie’ closes the trap on your 18 yo brain and shackles you to you can’t say/write/share that unless we give you permissions or you cross our greedy palms with silver? Before that…yeah we would love you to use a T’ardis in your school play – teachers please contact us? Not on my watch. Ironic video of Peter Capaldi talking to a young fan at comic con -ahh how much the world has changed now Auntie has to deal with a facebook enabled parent observing.
Back when i was homeschooling, Auntie wanted to charge someink like AUD $66 before postage for a vhs tape of the RI Christmas lectures – a series inaugurated by Michael Faraday as FREE public lecture. Meanwhile across the pond the HHMI foundation streamed their xmas lectures from the web or posted out a CD for nothing. Cue incensed letter to the RI followed by a sudden appearance of a benefactor and the free streaming, $6 CD at their institution too. So i thought we could have at least one grammatical use of the word doctor immediately followed by the word ‘who’ hidden in every script and perhaps a doctor who saves the world with a strongly worded letter to the editor … listen for them 😛