Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doctor Who and the Runaway Bogey

Issue #297 of Doctor Who Adventures, out in shops tomorrow, features a comic strip by me. "The Runaway Bogey" is, says the magazine's deputy editor, "the most disgusting comic we’ve ever done". I cannot imagine higher praise.

Last week, Doctor Who itself was 49 years old, and the DWA gang celebrated by watching the very first episode during our lunch break. You can read what we thought of "An Unearthly Child" on the Doctor Who Adventures website.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The writing of The Judgement of Isskar

On 29 January 2009, the Big Finish website posted my diary of writing Doctor Who: The Judgement of Isskar. That post is now long-since deleted, so here it is in case anyone cared.


Simon Guerrier, the writer of Doctor WhoThe Key 2 Time - The Judgement of Isskar, opens up his diary of the production...

18 December 2007
As detailed in my post about the writing of Home Truths, it began with drinks at Jason Haigh-Ellery’s swanky club in London. He, David Richardson, Nigel Fairs and me discuss the wheeze of a new mini-series. The Doctor will once again have to search out the six segments of the Key to Time, over three releases. He’ll be helped by two living “tracers”, who’ll develop over the series.
I bagsy the first story because I really want to create a new assistant for the Doctor. We knock some ideas back and forth and I think I have a rough idea of the story. But it needs to be written quickly, as we want to book Peter Davison just after he has come out from his stint on Spamalot!
Later Joseph Lidster joins us and we drink Champagne. Joe is glamorous like that.

19 December
I send in my first, 1,964-word outline for a story called “TBC”. That’s not me being post-modern, I just haven’t thought of a title. Episode one ends with the return of an old friend of the Doctor’s.
Later that day, David says it would be nice if the first segment “was something other than a rock”. Episode three is also too much like Dead London and / or Brave New Town. I suggest changing the setting to Blackpool – the segment could be the tower!
Strangely, no one is won over. Anyway, Jonathan Clements is writing the second story which will be set on Earth. I say I’ll try to limit myself to the rest of the universe.

20 December
My second, 2,146-word outline incorporates a whole day of email discussion with the chiefs. I’m asked to incorporate snake venom, to set up something in the final release of the series. It’s only writing this blog that I realise it now doesn’t feature in The Chaos Pool.
David vetoes setting the opening scene in a disco. And episodes two and three are too much like The Dark Husband. I’ll need to think of something else.
We also discuss titles. I suggest, “The Unravelling”, “The Unravelling of Time”, “The Collapse of Time” and “No Name”. There is a long and terrible silence…

31 December
I send round draft three of an outline, now called “The Collapse of Time”. It is 2,278 words and the opening disco has been swapped for a war. “War or disco?” says David. “Only on Doctor Who…”

3 January 2008
Notes from Alan Barnes on the series as a whole. He thinks the first episode of mine is too like The Boy That Time Forgot, and worries that overall it lacks structure. I suggest replacing the old friend with an old monster: “We’ve never done Terileptils, have we?”
David suggests “an Ice Warrior story set at the height of their empire...”.
We also discuss Manichaeism, Robert McKee’s “Story” and names for our new assistant. I google girls’ names and their meanings.

4 January
Nick Briggs confirms he has no plans to use the Ice Warriors in 2009; we just need to check that the BBC are happy for us to use them.

7 January
Now called “The Gods of War”, I send round a rough 758-word synopsis to check I’ve got the main bits of the story right. “At this stage, the Ice Warriors are a bit Generic Monster, in case we don't get permission to use them. I've much more detailed notes, but want to keep it brief at this stage.”

8 Janaury
The Doctor Who team in Cardiff confirm we can use the Ice Warriors. Everything is looking good…

9 January
David thinks the title is too like the Unbound story Masters of War, out a month before my one. So my 2,826-word outline (draft four) is now called “The March to Destruction”. The two tracers are called “Eve” and “Janus” – though that’s still subject to improvement.

10 January
Alan has notes on my outline. “Overall, this is an improvement on the first, but it needs sharpening up and ridding of the really obvious pompous, portentous and pretentious labelling that's dragging it right down at present.” He’s got a list of points for me to work through.
I grumble to myself. Especially since every one of them is right.

11 January
David also has his own notes. “My one concern,” I respond, “is with ‘Eve’ being able to teleport. If she can do that, she and the Doctor can get out of any jeopardy just by her thinking about it.” We come up with a solution that meets some of Alan’s concerns too. We also discuss the names – and how our tracers gain them. I suggest “Julia” – at random. Jason likes “Amy” and “Zara”.
Draft five, featuring Amy and Zara, is 3,578 words long and features pan-dimensional handbags.

12 January
David sends round some notes beefing up the background of the two tracers. He suggests that “Zara has chosen another traveller (not the robot featured in Simon's outline) – a more ruthless, dangerous man…” He suggests a few other things which also all end up in the final story.

13 January
Alan provides some useful notes that help the structure of my story. Now, over three Acts, I’ve got moments he’s marked “Call to Adventure”, “Refusal”, “Crossing the Threshold”, “Supreme Ordeal”, “Reward” and “Resurrection”.

14 January
Draft six is 4,132 words long. I suggest a new title, “The March to Oblivion”. David counters with “Six Segments to Extinction”, “The Harbingers of Doom” and “Something deadly, doomy, gloom gloom gloom?”
I suggest “Martian Law” and then “The Race Against Time” – which I really like because it’s got several meanings in the story.
We’re racing against time ourselves, with the outline still not agreed. David doesn’t want Amy “gaining a sense of humour from the segment”, so I tweak the outline, and then tweak it again.
Draft eight still doesn’t seem to be doing what Alan and David want, and they’ve asked me to ignore some of their earlier comments and swap things back to how they were. It’s frustrating; we seem so close to something really exciting, but it’s just not quite working right.
I amalgamate everyone’s comments into one long email and tick them off one by one. “Easy ones first, and then there's things I am - shockingly - daring to dispute.”
Jonathan Clements, meanwhile, is only on draft three of his outline. The slacker.

15 January
Over the phone with David, we agree what needs to be done. Draft nine comes in at 4,898 words. In the accompanying email, I flag up a change of emphasis. “Amy and Zara are consciously aping the people they learn from, rather than automatically taking on attributes. This makes them less like C'rizz, and means I can also make them less blank-slate zombies when we first meet them.”
I’ve stolen this from Eddie Robson; in his book on the Coen brothers’ films, he notes that this is what the Dude does in The Big Lebowski.
Draft nine, and Jonathan’s draft three, go off to the BBC. Amazingly, they’re approved that day – I think David might have begged. Now I have until 11 February to deliver the scripts. But Jason would also like some scenes in advance, so he can audition Amys and Zaras.

20 January
I deliver the first draft of what will be my first scene – its seven pages long and 999 words, and includes the words “gin and tonic”. The Doctor is travelling with Tegan and Turlough (though he’s not with them in the scene). David asks me to change that to Peri. Jason worries that “pan-dimensional handbags” were used in an Iris Wildthyme play, so I change them to satchels.

29 January
I’m well into writing. David lets me know Jason will be directing mine, with Lisa Bowerman directing the rest of the mini-series. He’s also in the last stages of confirming the writer for the final story. And he’s spoken to Justin Richards who asks how my story ties in with events in Red Dawn. I promise to re-listen to that story.

6 February
I send Jonathan and David a draft of my first two episodes, so they can see how Amy and Zara are coming along. David tells me to forward them to our Third Man – now revealed as Peter Anghelides.

10 February
A draft of the whole thing goes round the houses. Peter Anghelides says some nice things – but then he’s in a good mood that day having just been rung up by David Tennant.

12 February
David Richardson has a “passing fancy” – that Jonathan and Peter should try and copy the style of the opening of my episode three. Hooray – a note I don’t have to deal with! I get on with packing for the Gallifrey convention in Los Angeles – and after that a holiday.

14 February
David sends me notes from him and Alan. Alan suggests a new title – The Judgement of Isskar, and there’s comments marked “Zara’s agenda” and “Superwomen”. I am too busy schmoozing with celebrities to answer.

15 February
David sends me a note on Scene 52. But I am still busy schmoozing. He rings me, and we agree I’ll get the rewrites done in the next week, while I’m on the beach in Melbourne.

20 February
Melbourne is wet and grey so I spend a day at the laptop. I can only find three things with which to disagree with Alan and David. I think we should keep the segue between Scenes 3 and 4, and the one between Scenes 11 and 12. I also dispute that Scene 27 should be “less I, Claudius”; I’ve based it on my experience of working in the House of Lords.
I then trek down to the internet café with the script on a USB dongle. The internet café doesn’t have Microsoft Office, so I can't open the Word file. But I send my rewrites with a list of 13 other possible titles – none of which my masters like.

5 March
Back in London, I quickly work through a list of small tweaks from David – most of them typos or slight rephrasing. Wembik no longer uses the word “okay”, and the fifth Doctor is made to sound less like the tenth.

10 March
David seems happy with the script, but asks me to rework the climax as a separate, standalone scene. “We're auditioning Amys and Zaras again on Friday, but there are so few scenes of them actually together. And if they are together, other people are in the scene too.” I get it done that afternoon, and then David suggests something else…

15 March
As requested, I send David an 808-word outline for a Companion Chronicle featuring Zara and her boyfriend Zinc. David sends me notes the next day – “Let's not have the Doctor in it. Let's be bold!” So the haggling begins once again… Eventually, Zara and the seventh Doctor’s assistant Ace will share a cell in The Prisoner’s Dilemma. And the Doctor shows up after all.

31 March
David confirms that The Judgement of Isskar has been signed off, and will be recorded on 24-25 April. I can come along if I behave. I ask who he’s cast as Amy and Zara.

1 April
David responds by text: Penelope Keith and Brenda Fricker.

Then I notice the date…

The Judgement and Isskar and The Prisoner's Dilemma are now available to buy on CD and download

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The writing of Home Truths

On 10 December 2008, the Big Finish website posted a blog entry about the writing of the Doctor Who story Home Truths. The blog - and that post - have long since vanished, so on the off-chance anyone cares, here it is again.


House Proud
How long does it take to write a Doctor Who audio? Simon Guerrier, author of the Companion Chronicle Home Truths, checks his diaries…

Tuesday 11 December 2007, about 09.00 
I’m wending my way through Notting Hill on the 52 bus, off to a freelance job writing a sticker book, when I bump into Nigel Fairs. He’s off to Big Finish’s usual studios and we gossip about what we’re both up to. The Wake is finished so my duties on Benny are over. I’ve got to type up my notes on How The Doctor Changed My Life, but otherwise I’m not doing much. Ever tactful, Nigel says we should work on something again soon.

Wednesday 12 December, 15.36
An email from David Richardson. Nigel has suggested me for something they’re planning, “a 5th Doctor mini-series that is a sequel to the Key to Time series, for release in 2009”. Can I come along to “a preliminary writers’ meeting for either the morning of Wednesday 19 or the afternoon of Wednesday 20,” at Jason Haigh-Ellery’s swanky club in London? No, I can’t – I’m still writing a sticker book. “You’re fired,” says David.

Thursday 13 December, 20:20
“How busy are you in the early months of 2008?” asks David Richardson. “Besides the Key 2 Time... I'm gonna be producing the third series of Companion Chronicles, and wondered if you'd be interested in writing one...”. 

Tuesday 18 December, after 18.30
The preliminary writers’ meeting. We drink posh drinks in posh surroundings and discuss the bare bones of Key 2 Time. I meet David Richardson in the flesh for the first time and beg to be allowed to write for Sara Kingdom. I’ve got this wheeze for the framing sequence, of an older Sara recalling her adventures with the Doctor even though she died as a young woman. David says he’d like a historical story – or at least something very different from the sci-fi adventures Sara enjoyed onscreen.

Wednesday 19 December, 13.55
I send round my first outline for what will one day be The Judgment of Isskar. Some things survive to the final version – the fifth Doctor, the Key to Time, the last scene of part four. Everything else – new companions called Mary and Angie, the return of an old friend of the Doctor’s, a fake London of 2009 – gets binned over the next few weeks.

Wednesday 24 December, some time in the afternoon
I make my first notes on the Sara Kingdom story, in which the TARDIS visits a spooky family home at Christmas. The gist of the final story is there in the outline. I’m stealing the second character – who I’ll later name after my friend Robert Dick – from the Superman comic strip “For Tomorrow”. 

Sunday 30 December, 18.21
I send David a rough 500-word outline for “The House of Pleasure”, “a science-fiction twist on a haunted house story, perhaps with a Christmas flavour like the BBC’s old MR James adaptations.” David is pleased, wants it “to drip with that black and white TV feeling” but worries the title sounds rude. I suggest “Home Comforts” and “House Proud” while he contacts Jean Marsh’s agent.

Thursday 3 January 2008, 12.17
“HOOOOOOOOOOORAY!” says David’s email. Jean Marsh has agreed to reprise Sara Kingdom. I resend my outline to David for passing to Big Finish script editor Alan Barnes. I explain that “I've changed it from House of Pleasure to House of Judgment, which is also the name of a prose poem by Oscar Wilde. Which, of course, I knew beforehand.”

Friday 4 January, 18.42
“Cute,” says Alan, and points out that “Stephen” should be spelled with a “v”. Whoops. He also says: “It's a spooky house at Christmas. The Chimes of Midnight is probably the single most highly regarded BF production. It's kind of cornered the market in spooky houses at Christmas. I think it'd be more interesting to make it a crazy space house, in an abandoned futuristic Ideal Home exhibition or something.”

Sunday 6 January, 11.50
I send Alan and David a 1,200-word outline for “The House of Judgment”, this time detailing the progression of events in the story. Alan suggests we call it “Dream Home”. He also feels that once Sara knows what’s happening it ends too quickly. “My instinct would be to go for a realisation-ordeal-resolution sort of thing, where Sara realises what's going on but something gets in the way.”

Monday 7 January, 10.38
I send David a revised outline, now called “Home Truths”. David reminds me it needs to be in two episodes, so I add a cliffhanger. We get back to discussing my Key 2 Time outline: whether I can use the Ice Warriors and whether new companions Eve and Janus should both travel with the Doctor in part one.

That script becomes the priority for the next few months. Then David wants me writing a completely different Companion Chronicle linking to the Key 2 Time. Zara (formerly Janus) will share a cell with Ace in The Prisoners’ Dilemma.

17 April, 12.32
The synopsis for Home Truths has been approved by the estate of Terry Nation – who created Sara Kingdom. The BBC approves it too, with a couple of minor changes.
A week later, we record all three Key 2 Time plays. In May, I’m busy writing – and rewriting – The Prisoners’ Dilemma and then the first draft of Home Truths.

Monday 2 June, 10.24
I send David the first draft of Home Truths. I check Lisa Bowerman is directing the story because I’ve an idea for part two…

Thursday 5 June, 14.50
Jacqueline Rayner provides some additional comments on the script – “structurally it seems fine, they're mainly small niggles”. I make these changes that afternoon and also suggest that, as per Doctor Who of the time, the story should have individual episode titles. I suggest “The Dream House” for part one followed by “Home Truths”. David stares at me strangely.

Wednesday 11 June, 10.55
The BBC approves the script. David has to book it into studio and we need to cast someone to play Robert. 

Monday 16 June, all day
Recording of The Prisoners’ Dilemma. I go along, get in the way and talk to Lisa Bowerman about the feel of Home Truths. She listens with heroic patience. 

Thursday 19 June, 10.25
I answer David’s questions about my two Companion Chronicles for a forthcoming feature in Doctor Who Magazine.

Tuesday 3 July, 11.54
I provide David with blurbs and liner notes for both Companion Chronicles. I mention that, with Home Truths, Sara has been in more Doctor Who episodes than Captain Jack Harkness. David cuts that bit.

Monday 7 July, 14.59
David tells me Home Truths will be recorded on 8 September, since Jean Marsh is in a play until then. I check my diary. Drat! I’ll be in Seville.

Friday 18 July, 18.33
I enthuse to David and Simon Holub about the cover for Home Truths, which has been put up on the Big Finish website. Simon sends me a large version of the artwork. Hooray!

Monday 8 September, 12.44 (local time)
I text David to see how the recording is going, while stood in front of the cathedral glimpsed in The Two Doctors. Then I have an ice cream.

Saturday 18 October, 15.43
Paul Wilson, who runs the Big Finish website, kindly provides me with a download of Home Truths, which has gone off to be pressed. I’m meant to be doing my tax return. Instead I am grinning and giggling. Cor, it’s so much better than I’d hoped. I send an email to David Darlington thanking him for the impressive sound design. Only it wasn’t him who did it.

Wednesday 12 November
The huddled masses are able to download Home Truths from the Big Finish website and the CDs are posted out.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Vision On: Bleach for Kids

M'colleague Web of Evil shared with me the wonder that is Vision On - A Book Of Nonsense With Some Sense In It, an annual tied in to the TV show Vision On, published by the BBC in 1970 and on sale for 12s 6d. (My edition, obviously, came from the wonder that is Abebooks.)

It's edited by the show's producer Patrick Dowling, with contributions from presenters Tony Hart and Pat Keysell. The first page explains that,
"This is a sort of alphabet book for anyone who likes painting or drawing". 
But, just to be different, it's not in alphabetical order and starts with L (for lightning). Over 60 pages, it takes the precocious child reader through everything from photographic effects to sign language, with all sorts of things to experiment with rather than copy and a lot of terrible jokes. The black-and-white photo-strips of a tortoise called Humphrey being grumpy with a small girl called Susanne are chillingly surreal.

The book is a fascinating snapshot of another world, and there's loads to enjoy in its range and the effort that's clearly been put in to being both concise and extraordinary. The design is unsophisticated compared to modern kids' publishing, but they've struggled to make the most of the cut-and-paste layout and (mostly) two-colour printing.

I love the full page portrait of Winston Churchill made from Ms, Vs, 1s, &s and full stops.
"In fact this picture was made by computer ... The computer input scans a photograph deciding how grey each tiny area is, choosing a letter to match, and then the outline printer rattles it off." 
How mad that the subject for this display of cutting-edge technology is the late and reactionary Prime Minister. But best of all is page 36, which encourages readers to experiment with bleach.

More about Vision On at It's Prof Again.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On writing Blake's 7

The tyrannical forces from the Horizon website have interrogated me and posted my full confession about writing Blake's 7. I am just off to be shot.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Virgin Media Shorts Award 2012

On Thursday, the nice people at Virgin Media organised a showbiz soiree and awards ceremony for those of us what got shortlisted in the Virgin Media Shorts competition 2012. First, director Tom spent the afternoon at the BFI schmoozing with the other directors, getting good tips and free booze. Here is an exclusive photo he took from that part of the day:

Me, Adrian Mackinder and Mrs Tom had special pink VIP tickets for the evening do (which I think meant we had to queue longer than the people with bog ordinary tickets, but anyway). We were given nice booklets with interviews with each of the shortlisted directors, including Tom doing his best impression of Sir Roger Moore:

NB That interview talks about what we hope will be our next project, though I prefer "Coronation punk" to "atompunk". The main ticket area of the BFI sported cool displays of props and behind-the-scenes photos from the 13 films.

Above our heads were the amazing posters produced to promote our films. Here is our one:

Then us pink-ticketed VIPs were called to take our seats for the awards ceremony. You can see that I took the instruction on my ticket to "dress to impress" more seriously than the other two layabouts. I mean, Tom isn't even wearing a tie. (It took me half an hour to knot that bow tie, as I think I may have told everyone.)

While we waited for the rest of the audience to show up, we drank small bottles of Champagne through straws. This would later turn out to be something of an error, but it seemed good fun at the time. Adrian's colleague took the below photo. Excitingly, she turned out to be the granddaughter of Colin Douglas who played Reuben in The Horror of Fang Rock. She was very impressed that I knew this. Or perhaps a little scared. And this was only the beginning of my amazing Doctor Who-related celebrity spotting.

Danny Wallace did the hosting, and Tom was called down with the other directors to receive a fancy, framed version of the poster for our film. The nice lady in green is Jennifer Sheridan who won the competition with her splendid film, Rocket.

Then they showed the 13 films. The Plotters was on first and got some good laughs. Mostly from Adrian, beside me.

Then Chief Judge Julie Walters announced the winners of the three prizes. She accidentally didn't say The Plotters and named some other films instead, but we didn't like to make a fuss.

Then it was out again into the ticket hall for booze and schmoozing and perhaps even some dance moves. I got to meet a bunch of the other directors, and said hello to Big Finish's own Lisa Greenwood who - showbizly - I'd last seen in LA, Joe Millson and Andrew and Hannah off of Primeval. I think I spotted Nina Toussaint-White from Let's Kill Hitler there, too, so it was quite a high-scoring night.

And then, oh God, there were cocktails...

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Radio Times letters: the end of Blake's 7

M'colleague M handed me a yellowed copy of the Radio Times letters page of 16-22 January 1982, with comments on the shock finale of Blake's 7. "These letters are typical of an unusually large number we have received - around 200 - following the final episode of Blake's Seven", says the editor. Neatly, they've chosen to print seven of the 200.
Radio Times letters page, 16-22 January 1982, on the end of Blake's 7
Radio Times letters page, 16-22 January 1982
There's so much to be thrilled by: the (Mrs)s, the passive aggression, the casual racism of the cartoon, the context of the other shows ending, and the editor's chilling, unspoken verdict on The Borgias: "New series of both Tenko and Angels are planned for later this year."

Also of interest: Peter Anghelides recounts his trip to TV Centre to see the finale of Blake's 7 being filmed.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

My next big thing

Paul Magrs started a thing of getting people to talk about their next big thing. Last week, Joseph Lidster did it and nominated me. So here is my response.

What is the title of your new book?
Instead of a book, Joe “Makes His Own Rules” Lidster talked about his episodes of Wizards Vs Aliens. So my next big thing is also not a book but the short film, The Plotters, which you can watch here:

(The Plotters is also on YouTube.)

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My brother Tom and I have been working together for a few years – him as a director, me as a writer / dogsbody. We made a series of documentaries for the old-skool Doctor Who DVDs, and then last year completed our first short film, Cleaning Up, a thriller starring Mark Gatiss and Louise Jameson.

Since then, Cleaning Up has been playing film festivals and getting us in to see agents and productions companies. At Shortcutz in April (where we won Best Film), Nik Powell – director of the National Film and Studio School – advised us that there was a demand for strong comedy films, and we were keen to show our range by doing something different.

We knew the deadline for the Virgin Media Shorts competition – to make a short, self-contained film of no more than 2 minutes 20 seconds – was coming up. But I also knew from experience that comedy is not necessarily my strongest area. So we looked around for help.

We’d already worked with comedy writer and producer Adrian Mackinder on another short, Revealing Diary, so took him out for drinks. Tom and I both suggested ideas for a comedy short, and then Adrian mentioned an idea he’d already been working on a while back with writer Hannah George, about Guy Fawkes and the Plotters. We thought it was brilliant, so – with Hannah’s kind permission – Adrian unearthed their script and we went from there…

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical comedy.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Adrian stars as Guy Fawkes. The rest of the cast was made up of good, comic actors Tom and I already knew: Barnaby Edwards and Nicholas Pegg (who I knew from Doctor Who things: they play Daleks on TV); Anthony Keetch and John Dorney (who I knew through production company Big Finish); my friend Will Howells who’s a rather good stand-up comic; and a number of fine fellows Tom knew. I also played a policeman at the end.

The first cut of the film was well over four minutes, with some amazing comic turns from the actors. They were brilliant. So it was agonising having to cut so much of that to fit the time.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?Remember, remember... who are you again?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
We posted the film to the Virgin Media Shorts competition website, and in September it was one of 13 films to make the shortlist – you can see all 13 at As a result, it’s now playing in more than 200 Picturehouse cinemas around the UK, in front of main features, as well as on Virgin OnDemand and Tivo. That’s all very exciting in itself, and then tomorrow (8 November) we find out which of the 13 films wins additional prizes.

Tom and I are not currently represented by an agency, though we’ve had some promising meetings with agents in the last few months.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Adrian provided me with his and Hannah’s original script on 24 May. My first notes followed that same day, and then we knocked it back and forth between me, Adrian and Tom. I provided them with a nearly-there draft on 2 June and we had a locked version on 9 June, although that was still titled “Five Eleven”. The next day, a friend pointed out that that joke had been done in an episode of Mongrels, so instead I, er, pinched the name of a Doctor Who book by my friend Gareth Roberts.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
If I had no humility at all, I would say Monty Python, Blackadder or Horrible Histories.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Tom is a fierce and pitiless tyrant of a boss. We also had a limited budget and amount of time to make another short, so the competition deadline and Adrian and Hannah’s idea all fitted perfectly. There was about six weeks from deciding we were going to make the film to delivering it.

But the gag of the film is based on the famous picture of the plotters in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection:
The Gunpowder Plot Conspirators, 1605
National Portrait Gallery #334a
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This handsome, behind-the-scenes picture:

I now have to tag five writers to continue this thing and answer the same questions on Wednesday next week. They are: Ben Aaronovitch; Scott Andrews; Niall Boyce; Andrew Cartmel and Una McCormack.