The Writer's Tale

I have just been reading Russell Davies’ The Writer’s Tale. The book is about the conception and filming of Series 4 of Doctor Who. So a very heavy hardback, with lots of delicious photographs of the programme and behind the scenes stuff, as well as snippets of scripts. Written in an epistolatory style, it uses emails and texts instead of letters and is a correspondence between Russell T Davies and a journalist, Ben Cook. As I read I felt like I was following a private conversation, but I am sure nothing was disclosed that I wasn’t meant to know.

Reading the book, made me realise that the marketing strategy for the programme relied so much on withholding and cliff hangers. This technique isn’t just in the episodes themselves but in narrative constructed around the programme, such as the personal narrative working on the programme. Is David Tennant doing another series or not. I found it enormously enjoyable, both for the writing and the beautiful images. Reading and viewing was strangely and satisfyingly voyeuristic.

It was attracted to the fragmented style of the book. I moved from email to text, looked at images which weren’t directly always related to what was written on the page. It made me think that writing and reading is a changing experience with new technology. I was also thinking, that at home, I hardly use Word anymore, because there are so many other ways to write – this blog for example.

As I write, I’m watching a repeat of episode 1 of series 4 on Sky + and I can now read the programme in different ways because I have read Davies’s book. I know, for example, why the reporter is called Penny and where the title, Partners in Crime’ came from. Sarah Lancashire is great, overacting beautifully as the nanny from outer space and Catherine Tate’s Donna is just spot on, as the Doctor’s companion who isn’t going to fall in love with him in episode 2.

Davies, Russell T. (2008) The Writer’s Tale London: BBC Books
Doctor Who Series 4.1

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One thought on “The Writer's Tale

  1. I enjoyed The Writer’s Guide book a lot – I actually found it quite gruelling in parts as the emails and responses catalogued RTD’s self-doubts and peaks and troughs in a tpe of “real” time. When I watch what appears to be a polished final version I oddly never imagined that someone as prolific as RTD would still go through those dark moments. This was made more ominous when he wrote about how he had to talk to one of his writers who had seen the comments about Daleks in Manhatten, and herself as the writer, on Outpost Gallifrey. On the relative anonymity of the internet we can treat writers as being almost immune to what we say.


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