Thursday, July 20, 2023

Doctor Who Magazine #593

The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine boasts three new things from me.

First, in 'Snakes Alive!' (pp. 22- 25), I spoke to writer-director Pete McTighe and actors Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton about making The Passenger, the mini-episode of Doctor Who released on YouTube just last week to promote the forthcoming Blu-ray set of the 1983 series.

Then, in 'Texting at Work' (pp. 38-39), I spoke to Sophie Cowdrey and Aled Griffiths, graphics assistants on the forthcoming new series of Doctor Who. (I previously spoke to Sophie for DWM's 2020 Yearbook and worked with her on The Women Who Lived in 2018.)

Finally, 'Sufficient Data' (p. 82) is another infographic by Roger Langridge and me, this time devoted to what readers voted as the best of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors' best stories.

There's also a plug for Whotopia: The Ultimate Guide to the Whoniverse, the great big volume published by BBC Books in November, written by Jonathan Morris with assistance from Una McCormack and me. It's one of five books I've got out later this year, which is why I'm a bit quiet on this blog at the moment.

But I'm speaking as part of the 60 Years of Doctor Who extravaganza at this weekend's Blue Dot festival this Sunday. Eep. 

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Box Tunnel Survivors' Group #20

I've been interviewed about my 2010 Being Human novel The Road by Michael from the Box Tunnel Survivors' Group podcast. 

That book was the result of me posting here in January 2009 after seeing a preview of the first full episode of Being Human at a BFI screening, and being fascinated by the changes made to the format since the broadcast pilot. The link I tweeted to this post was spotted by Steve Tribe at BBC Books just as plans were afoot to do novels. I didn't know any of that until two months later when Steve got in touch.

On 5 May 2009, we met with series creator Toby Whithouse and producer Rob Pursey, who gave us lots of helpful guidance, including the thing they thought worked really well for Being Human. Each episode, they said, should focus on a new character who comes into the orbit of the housemates. That became the hook for the ideas me, James Goss and Mark Michalowski pitched over the next few weeks.

Then, on 19 August, James and I were in Bristol for a set visit, and lurked in one corner of the hospital ward while Mitchell (Aiden Turner) presented Lucy (Lindsay Marshall) with a fish. Wr got to poke around the housemates' house (both the real location in Totterdown and the interior sets inside a huge warehouse). That trip was ably managed by Derek Ritchie, who went on to be a producer on Doctor Who

How exciting it was, working with James and Mark on those novels, threading plot elements between us, kept in line by Steve Tribe and editorial colossus Nicholas Payne.

I'd forgotten until Michael reminded me on the podcast that I went to the preview screening for the first episode of season 2 of Being Human, at the Curzon cinema in Mayfair. That was a wild night, the place packed with excited fans. A couple of weeks later Steve Tribe was back in touch about the possibility of new Being Human audio books. It never happened, sadly, but I found the three ideas I sent in, one for each of the regular cast:

  • Mitchell: Higher Powers — an old friend of Mitchell’s turns up and thinks his friends a bad influence
  • George: The Cure — George helps a couple of elderly Russian immigrants, one of whom has been attacked by a werewolf. It turns out they are monster hunters.
  • Annie: Guardian Angel — Annie tries to help a ‘friend’ who always made life difficult when Annie was alive.

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Pedro (? - 2023)

Pedro, by Nimbos
This morning, we took turns to say goodbye to Pedro, our grumpy, once-chonky cat, before the Dr escorted him away on one last trip to the vet. 

A few weeks ago we thought he'd been knackered out by the hot weather; he wasn't unhappy, just listless. When the rain and chill hit, he didn't recover his energy. Then he was losing weight. I took him to the vet last week already expecting the worst. They found him full of cancer and he went downhill quickly. We'd booked him in for a final trip to the vet later this week and this morning had to bring that forward. He didn't even need the injection - in one last, typical act of defiance, he died as they were preparing it.

Oh, that cat.

Why 'Pedro'? I've been asked this a lot over the past five years. The rescue home where we found him in the summer of 2018 had a simple labelling system; each new cat they received was given a name beginning with the next letter in the alphabet. When this scrawny character arrived at their door, they'd just had a cat given a name beginning with 'O', so next in sequence was 'P'. They already had a 'Pete', hence 'Pedro'. The home assumed we'd come up with something more suitable soon enough but seven year-old Lord of Chaos was horrified by the idea we would dare to change his name.

It was a good name for quite a character.

The first time I took Pedro to the vet, sometime soon after we adopted him, he managed to make his feelings known by spraying piss through the slots of his carrying case, soaking me in the process. He then reached out a claw and caught my arm, so I arrived at the vet covered in piss and blood.

This delighted the vet, not least because Pedro had clearly got it all out of his system. So she picked him up and made soothing noises, and he pissed all over her.

Blimey, he could sulk. Rain and snow were obviously our fault. Woe betide anyone who sat in his chair (it's my chair, where I do most of my work). Or obstructed his comfy seat on the back of another sofa, where he could half slump on top of the radiator. Or if there was anything in the way of where he liked to laze beneath the front window. He declined to use a cat flap; you'd be summoned to open the door.

His grumpiness was matched by his greed. Pedro's dinner time was 5.15 each night, so from about 2 he'd trot after you hopefully, his forlorn wail of a not-meow more fitting a cat one-third his size. But Pedro was a survivor, having lived for some time on the mean streets of Streatham before we found him at a rescue home. You could see those survival skills in his scavenging and thieving, and the way he'd go crazy at the barest sniff of a plastic box full of chow mein.

Or duck. Or tuna. Or roast dinner. Or cheap sliced ham. 

Pedro was also affectionate - and not just when we were eating. Until recently, he liked nothing better than to sleep at the end of our bed, on the Dr's feet. If it was cold, he would move gradually up the bed, sometimes reaching the pillow. When the children were away - at school or overnight somewhere - he'd often curl up in their beds. If I was watching some hokey sci-fi late at night, he'd cuddle up, particularly enamoured of the twirling coloured lights in a star field or space battle. He weathered, usually with patience, a lot of cat squeezing and love.

What a lot of love we doted on that cat.