Read Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale by Russell T. Davies Benjamin Cook Philip Pullman Online

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'Writing isn't just a job that stops at six-thirty... It's a mad, sexy, sad, scary, obsessive, ruthless, joyful, and utterly, utterly personal thing. There's not the writer and then me; there's just me. All of my life connects to the writing. All of it.'A unique look into the BBC's most popular family drama, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale is a year in the life of the hit te'Writing isn't just a job that stops at six-thirty... It's a mad, sexy, sad, scary, obsessive, ruthless, joyful, and utterly, utterly personal thing. There's not the writer and then me; there's just me. All of my life connects to the writing. All of it.'A unique look into the BBC's most popular family drama, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale is a year in the life of the hit television series, as told by the show's Head Writer and Executive Producer. A candid and in-depth correspondence between Russell T Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook, the book explores in detail Russell's work on Series Four, revealing how he plans the series and works with the show's writers; where he gets his ideas for plot, character and scenes; how actors are cast and other creative decisions are made; and how he juggles the demands of Doctor Who with the increasingly successful Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures spin-offs.Russell's scripts are discussed as they develop, and Russell and Benjamin's wide-ranging discussions bring in experiences from previous series of Doctor Who as well as other shows Russell has written and created, including Queer as Folk, Bob & Rose, and The Second Coming. The reader is given total access to the show as it's created, and the writing is everything you would expect from Russell T Davies: warm, witty, insightful, and honest.Fully illustrated with never-before-seen photos and artwork - including original drawings by Russell himself - The Writer's Tale is a not only the ultimate Doctor Who book, but a celebration of great writing and great television...

Title : Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale
Author :
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ISBN : 9781846075711
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale Reviews

  • Rosianna
    2019-03-20 00:38

    Even if you're blubbing at the Doctor and Rose on Bad Wolf Bay in 'Doomsday', you're empathising, you're feeling it, and there's an echo of every loss you've ever had in that.It's tricky to write about my reaction to The Writer's Tale because it was so mixed. Primarily, it was so honest, and I never expected about 98% of the book (if not more) to be made up of emails between Russell T. Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook. Cook asks brilliant questions, never forced, and Davies has a wonderful manner of spiralling off into a tangent, full of anecdotes and sex jokes and procrastination. I don't know whether The Writer's Tale has affected my perception of Davies - the correspondence could easily be turned into a biography as Davies details some of his own motivations, detractors, issues with the scale of Doctor Who publicity and corporate attention as a result of its success - but it wasn't necessary to like him. On some level, I think to enjoy The Writer's Tale, you have to enjoy his ideas, or his characters in any of his work. You have to have a certain amount of respect for his creation and once you have that, it's not easy to pull yourself out of this brilliant insight into the formation of those ideas, seeing as the script and actors accommodate the characters that have a life beyond the script (something that Davies himself appears to deny, yet simultaneously believe). Either way, it's a "must-read" for any Doctor Who fan, but they know that already and have probably already bought you two copies for your birthday. Mine's wrapped and everything.

  • Nicholas Whyte
    2019-03-07 16:42

    "http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1278783.html[return][return]This book is essential reading, not just for the Doctor Who fan, but for anyone who is even slightly interested in the show, or more broadly who is interested in the process of writing for television.[return][return]It is structured as a year-long email conversation between journalist Benjamin Cook and Russell T Davies about the process of writing the fourth season of New Who, from Voyage of the Damned to Journey's End. (Also briefly including Time Crash.) On the scale of loving or hating RTD, I am sort of in the middle: I respect and admire his achievement in reviving Who in the first place, which I think in the end puts me just slightly on the 'love' side of the divide, but I don't always like his writing, or his public persona. This book reinforced both my positive and negative prejudices about him as a professional, but it grounded them in a much deeper understanding of his personality, and in the awful responsibility of the writer on a show like Who: his loyalty and his guilt circulate around his key colleagues - Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson, David Tennant - and worrying that he won't produce the goods with adequate quality or promptness.[return][return]Vast amounts of draft script are included in the book, much of which made it to screen. I found the roads not taken rather interesting - who was the comedienne who might have played Penny, the companion who never was because Catherine Tate accepted the invitation to return? Imagine if Dennis Hopper had been available? And at the very end of the book, Cook rightly persuades Davies to drop a really awful linking script between Journey's End and The Next Doctor. [return][return]But even more interesting is to see what the fundamental idea of each story actually is. They are not always very strong. The Stolen Earth/Journey's End is almost entirely about showing rather than telling:[return][return]...Daleks, en masse. Lots of gunfire and exterminations. And the biggest Dalek spaceship ever - more like a Dalek temple. Christ almighty! The skies over the Earth need to be changed to weird outer space vistas. Also, visible in the sky, a huge Dalek ship exterior. The size of a solar system! This will probably explode. Like they do.[return][return]And Davros.[return][return]So the episodes are seen at this point largely as spectacle rather than story; the most effective bit, the end of Donna's travels with the Doctor, emerges rather late in the day from Davies' fevered imagination. One may not always like the solutions he comes up with, but the insight into the creative process. Is utterly fascinating and compelling.[return][return](Certain sections of fandom will not be pleased by what he has to say about the internet. Too bad. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman on George R.R. Martin, Russell T Davies is not your bitch.)[return][return]There is a surprising amount of death in the book: Christopher Ecclestone's driver, David Tennant's mother, Verity Lambert, and most of all Howard Attfield, called from his sick bed to reprise his role as Donna's father, but unable to complete the scripts. After his death, his scenes are reshot with Bernard Cribbins. The show must go on.[return][return]Indeed, that is the bigger lesson from the. Book. If Doctor Who is sometimes less than perfect, it happens basically because The Show Must Go On, and because the writers and producers have determined to put on screen what they can. It is rather amazing that it ended up so well as often as it did.[return][return]Anyway, this is probably the most interesting book about Doctor Who that will ever be written. If you are even slightly interested in the subject, get it."

  • Sandy
    2019-03-10 20:01

    This book was an unexpected delight. I noticed it by accident at my local library, and picked it up expecting some backstage insights into the television show but not much else. What I found was something richer and broader - an insightful and intelligent look at the whys and hows of scriptwriting, and of working in television in general."Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale" consists of approximately a year's worth of emails between Russell T. Davies, the head writer and producer of the relaunched Doctor Who series, and Benjamin Cook, a fellow writer and reporter. The emails attempt to answer broad creative questions like "Where do ideas come from?", "What does it take to be a professional writer?", and "How do you know when a script is good?" in the framework of a year of writing the fourth season of Doctor Who. The book also contains several full-length scripts for episodes, printed chronologically as they are written over multiple days, with comments and revisions.This book was very nearly a five star read for me. I loved the email correspondence between Davies and Cook. However, the scripts themselves felt redundant, mostly because Davies's writing style is to let everything kind of percolate for a while, thinking about things, and then write in one creative burst - meaning that his scripts are written nearly exactly as they end up being aired. It can feel like reading the long text version of an episode you've already seen, without additional insights, when you just want to get back to the conversation at hand. But what a great conversation! Russell T. Davies discussing his creative process highlighted a lot of the things I admire and love about his work, and find frustrating at the same time. The Doctor Who miscellany (the companion that didn't make it, the script ideas he muses on - like Doctor Who meets Harry Potter) are a bonus for Who fans. And did I mention he draws as well? The book is full of little comics of the characters and scenes in his scripts (he has a very visual imagination).I'd highly recommend this for anybody interested in the nuts and bolts of writing, television, and Doctor Who fans in particular.Four enthusiastic stars.

  • Mely
    2019-02-28 16:43

    Pretty much the strengths and weaknesses you would expect. Interesting reading about BBC TV production, which is not as different from US production as I'd expect -- it seems to end up with the same crazed rush at (and well past) deadlines despite the apparently more sensible schedule and more limited seasons.Davies is surprisingly oblivious to some of his own prejudices/carelessness -- I'd have expected the awareness of how gay men are stereotyped in the media (he complains, understandably, about how often his interviews camp him up) to lead to some self-consciousness about casting women as "bulldyke prison guards," but apparently not. What has a bigger effect on his writing, though, is his complete lack of awareness re: savior figures and the Doctor -- he appears to think he's writing against messianic figures, which I do not find a credible analysis of the text (Doctor Who, not The Writer's Tale).I am probably annoyed by his working methods and self-obsessive introspection far more than is warranted; he reminds me far too much of me.

  • Nadine
    2019-03-13 22:57

    I read the second edition and I.LOVE.IT!It's as if I had watched Doctor Who all over again. I now know things for sure without having to watch S5 (in regards to River for instance) because I cannot bear it just yet. I cried all over again at how beautifully Ten's and Wilf's final scene in 418 are written. And most and for all, I am so incredibly grateful to recognize that such an accomplished writer seems to battle the same struggles I have, a pure amateur. At least to some extent. That actually encourages me. That's it I think. The book is great insight into Doctor Who and Torchwood. And into the way Russell T Davies writes. And if you are interested in purely that aspect, you will get a lot out of it. Plus it's really entertaining. Couldn't put it down and will probably re-read it.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-21 21:49

    Looking at what I read, it should come as no surprise that Doctor Who is something of a passion of mine. (To paraphrase author Paul Cornell, it's not a favorite TV series, it's a lifestyle choice.) Having said that, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale is almost certainly the best nonfiction book about the series I've ever read, and one of the best books about writing, as well.The show collects about a year's worth of email correspondence between executive producer/head writer Russell T Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook about the process of writing Series 4 of Doctor Who. While Davies makes the point time and again that the way he writes isn't necessarily the way everyone should write, the book does provide a lot of insight into his own methods, how he works, and why he makes the choices he makes.Along the way, we also learn a great deal about Davies himself. Not so much in the way of autobiography, but about who he is. For readers familiar with the extremely positive cheerleader image Davies projects on Doctor Who Confidential and in his interviews and columns in Doctor Who Magazine and elsewhere, it's eye-opening, seeing him put his fears and insecurities on display in such a public way.

  • Melissa
    2019-03-18 16:57

    I was pretty disappointed with this. The parts about development and storylining of Doctor Who were really interesting - exactly the sort of behind-the-scenes insights I'd been hoping for. Sadly, they were few and far between. The vast bulk of the book comprised Russell T Davies moaning about how hard it is being a writer, and salivating over Russell Tovey. It's actually pretty weird how much he goes on and on about the incidental character Midshipman Frame, who had, what, four minutes of screen time? Just because he fancied the actor. I did enjoy Benjamin Cook's replies to his emails, which were couched in nicer language, but essentially asking throughout '"Russell, why are you being such a prick?". The book felt really padded out, too. Four scripts were included in full, though two of Russell's scripts from the series were missed out entirely, with the emails just alluding to them. It made the content feel really unbalanced. If they'd just included the pertinent parts of each script, the size of the book would have been much less monstrous. Russell's little illustrations were very amusing - I didn't know he was an artist, too - but on the whole I felt let down. 5/10.

  • Andrew Thompson
    2019-03-17 22:56

    Whatever your view of Russell T Davies, you cannot deny that the man is utterly devoted to his cause. I'm 3/4 of the way through this at the moment and it's very interesting to see how he writes the series, rewrites other writers' episodes and generally guides the good ship Who through the choppy seas of production. Seemingly awake 24 hours a day, he generates ideas at a scary rate. Not all are necessarily good ideas, it must be said. But those familiar with the show will see how an idea thought of at the beginning of the production process will work its way in to a story late in the cycle. I would imagine he is an utter nightmare to work with as he procrastinates, throws out other writers' scripts, delays deadlines and alters production to cope with he fact he hasn't delivered. I find some of his writing hit and miss, but the hits do make some astonishingly good TV. The misses can be somewhat overwrought (end of season 4 anyone ?) and clunky. Is this a product of his seemingly chaotic approach ? I don't know. This book is a compelling read and has a lot to say about how TV writers write, why they write and how to write TV well.

  • Anna
    2019-02-20 19:02

    Ok, so Davies is a nutter. A wildly creative nutter who is very good at smoking, ogling nice men, making himself crazy with missed deadlines, and a maniac writing practice that involves mapping entire episodes in his head before even beginning. All after red line panic has set in, so he can whip himself into a Phillip K. Dick type frenzy and actually you know, write summat.He also rewrites everybody else's scripts for consistency. Flagellant. The book left me with a sense of gladness that he is a shitty little procrastinator like everyone else (ie. me) as well as imperious that he is such a wastrel with his great talents. Imagine what he might do if he was a bit calmer, a bit more able to pace himself. A bit more able to spend energy on stuff that doesn't massively engage him. I couldn't believe that he could give up "the dream job" of Doctor Who, but now I see why. His terrible habits screwed the enjoyment out of it.

  • Tim Mckinstry
    2019-02-18 22:57

    Wow, if you love Dr Who and you love anything writing related you'll love this book. Not intentionally written as an insight into writing for TV and writing in general it began as email correspondence between Russel T. Davies and writer Benjamin Cook. Don't let that put you off though, that's exactly why it's better than any "how to" books out there.See for yourself.

  • Mike
    2019-03-04 22:46

    I was put off reading this for quite some time. More than 700 pages of e-mails back and forth between Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook. Really, who'd read that? Well it turned out to be my bad, because this was a riveting work, Ben - or Benjamino, as he's often called in these correspondences - teasing answers out of Russell about the writing process, the pressures, the relentless grind of being the driving force behind Doctor Who from its return to television in 2005 to his eventual departure five years later. The e-mails cover two years of the Doctor's adventures, its fourth series, which was also the last complete one starring David Tennant, and the 'season' of specials. At the same time, Russell was also writing for Torchwood and taking on something of a Godfather role over The Sarah Jane Adventures. Three major British TV franchises. Lots of work. Did I mention the pressure? I remember at the time Russell taking on all manner of flak for what he'd done to Doctor Who - the apparent dumbing down, the romances with his companions, bastardising canonical villains like the Master. I didn't agree with all of it; for me, the way he ended the third series was inspired, fun, and very, very exciting, which flew against the prevailing and adverse opinion. But what did Russell himself think? Did he care? Was he as bad as the rest of us for visiting the various messageboards and websites just to read people tearing into his vision for the show? Of course he did. It's all here, the semi-cathartic visits to online forums just to see what new insults he'd served up with his latest scripted episode and learning to roll with the punches. The truth is that show-running for Doctor Who was tough, especially once it was clear the series had scored a big hit for the BBC and its importance grew and grew. I took my son to an exhibition of props and costumes in Manchester some time after the second series had finished, and the place was packed, filled with dads like me and their kids, all of us excited to be up close and personal with this stuff. That drilled home to me the cultural impact of 'new Who', and the contribution Russell made to that, in just about all ways the key contribution. In the book, we learn the writing process wasn't easy. It took time, effort, periods where nothing much happened punctuated with bursts of energetic work, whole chunks of script excised because they went nowhere or would cost too much to film, other bits worked and worked upon until they felt just right (the development of the key scene in Tennant's last special when Bernard Cribbins has locked himself into a sealed vault shows just how painstaking all this was). All to create a good script, and I think it was no less a figure than Steven Moffatt who advised us how difficult this was - putting something out there that introduced characters, told a story within the confines of 45 minutes of adapted material, entertained a wide cross-section of ages, could appeal to veterans of the classic series and young viewers alike, worked in elements of what would become a series-long arc, none of it straightforward. The narrative flow of an episode, often looking so natural and unforced, was tweaked and tweaked and tweaked to make it that way; it didn't just happen. Perhaps it didn't always work as well as you would have liked it to. But one thing for certain was that it was cared about. Russell was bothered, as well as writing managing the other writers, treating their scripts, directing the narrative course of the series, helping to cast, forming relationships with the actors and crew, etc, etc. I'll admit I emerged with a newfound respect for the man, in fairness a respect that was never really absent because I've always enjoyed Doctor Who and indeed now Russell's no longer involved it's ever so slightly poorer for his non-involvement.

  • Felicity Turner
    2019-02-24 20:55

    If I could rate this higher I would. An insight into my favourite television series during the tenure of my favourite Doctor and favourite 'new Who' companion. Plus an incredible look behind the scenes at the world of script writing and a very relatable script writer. A book that brings the humanity to sci-fi, which is ironically what Russell T. Davies was brilliant at doing in Doctor Who.

  • Catherine Harris
    2019-03-09 17:45

    As a massive fan of Doctor Who, I may be a bit biased, but this is the book that encouraged me to start writing again and for that reason I would recommend it to anyone. It's brutally honest and reveals things about the writers and actors mentioned that is not usually covered in traditional TV or magazine interviews.

  • Jayne Lamb
    2019-03-09 18:02

    Oh my god, if you shrank Russel T Davies and made him a chick (and extracted his writing talent obvs), he would be me. He's incredibly self-obsessed and self-conscious and basically writes his shows around the actors he thinks are hot. Also in his favour: he's not Steven Moffat.

  • Janelle
    2019-02-26 00:57

    Fun inside look at the series!

  • Kieran
    2019-03-06 19:38

    A must read for any writer. This isn't just a list of things to think about while writing, this is a look inside the mind of a writer AS HE IS WRITING! It's wonderful.

  • Kerry
    2019-03-21 22:01

    This is another book I discovered thanks to the internet (there seem to be a lot of those, which is probably why my TBR pile is so out of control). This time it was discussed on one of the Doctor Who podcasts I listen to. I don’t 100% remember which one, but I think it was the DWO WhoCast. I listened, thought the podcasters’ comments were interesting and didn’t think much more about it. A few weeks later, we were in the library and my husband saw it on the new books stand and pointed it out to me. What the heck? I thought, grabbed it and brought it home with me.When we got home, I opened it to have a look at what it was like and just kept on going until I was finished, some time the next day. I was surprised at how fascinated I found myself by the whole thing and I happily read my way though to the end and then found myself wanting to start watching season four of the new Doctor Who all over again.This book is mostly the emails between Russell T. Davies (showrunner for the first four seasons of the modern Doctor Who) and writer Benjamin Cook. As I understand it, Cook suggested that Davies might like to email him about the writing of season 4 and what started off a little nervously soon became a no-holds barred look at the mind and personality of Davies as he worked.While I have happily enjoyed watching Doctor Who over the last five years, I haven’t always been happy with some of the episodes Davies has written. I can easily enjoy them on a first watching, but when I think back on them, the story can be seriously lacking. After feeling exactly this way about David Tennant’s swan song, The End of Time, I finally figured out with the help of a friend that Davies is an emotional writer. It’s all about the emotion with him and how to pack the biggest emotional wallop into the story. So when you stop and think about it, the story can have next to no plot at all, or have a totally stupid plot, but it sure has the emotional moments. As someone who likes both, not all of Davies’ stories work for me. (Indeed, this is why I’m looking forward to seeing what Steven Moffat does with the show, as he seems to be much more plot based than Davies.)Reading The Writer’s Tale only confirmed this for me. Davies seems to live his entire life by his emotions (and very exhausting it seems to be too). He seems to spend a lot of his time despairing that he will never write anything, or that what he has written is rubbish. He pushes every deadline to the limit and yet constantly pulls it off at the last moment. I certainly wouldn’t want to live with him (but that’s okay, because I’m sure he wouldn’t want to live with me either) but it certainly makes for interesting reading at a distance.It was fascinating to see his ideas progress from the places each one began to the final product we eventually saw on screen. It was particularly fascinating to see him slowly creating a new character to be the companion in season 4, only have have Catherine Tate return to reprise her role as Donna and see the changes that made in the developing scripts.I enjoyed reading this – it’s a great balance of information about the show and Davies himself, pretty photos from the show (I like pretty photos), large sections of scripts in progress and even cute cartoons penned by Davies. It also contained some interesting words of wisdom that I wanted to share.On writing and creativity (p.77):It is not a democracy. Creating something is not a democracy. The people have no say. The artist does. It doesn’t matter what the people witter on about; they and their response come after. They’re not there for the creations.Right on, Russell! Say it again. I would always far rather a writer be true to their vision than be swayed by the fans. Fans don’t have a clue what they want and too many cooks are sure to spoil the broth. I can choose not to like the artist’s choices, but I’d rather they stuck to the truth of their creativity.Oh dear. I had a couple of other quotes I wanted to share, but I can’t track down where I wrote the relevant page numbers. I’ve tried flipping through the book, but I still can’t find them, so I’m just going to stop the review here.If you like Doctor Who, this is a very fascinating read. (If you’ve never seen the new Doctor Who, don’t even consider this one as you’ll be totally lost.) I enjoyed it far more than I expected to when I started and I’ve got my name on the hold list for the follow up volume that looks at writing the 2009 television specials.And roll on Easter and the new season and new Doctor. I can’t wait.

  • Chris Turner
    2019-02-26 21:02

    This is a tabletop book, with a really beautiful layout that makes it engaging. The mix of scripts, light banter and writing tips and experiences makes it a fun read. You do need to be a Who fan to enjoy this and having seen the series it relates to made it more enjoyable. Reading it slowly over a year, the amount of time it spans over, was quite nice. Well worth a read if you are a fan of Tennant era Dr Who.

  • Jessica Snell
    2019-02-26 00:37

    I just got a book that's been on my Amazon wishlist for awhile: Russell T Davies' (and Benjamin Cook's) Dr. Who: The Writer's Tale. I've been an admirer of his work, and I'm becoming even more admiring of his honesty about his writing process. Some great stuff so far:When asked if he's ever gone into some tricky situation in order to gather material, he says no, but then says, "Is that true, though? Did I just lie my way out of that? Okay, so I've never sought out an experience just so that I can use it in a script, but every experience, every single one, I'm thinking, this is interesting. And they do find their way into a script in the end. So which comes first? Blimey, that'll keep me awake." (Italics mine.)On the so-called writer's block: "I never call it writer's block, though. I don't know why, but I sort of react with revulsion to that phrase. I imagine it to mean sitting there with No Ideas At All. For me, it feels more like the ideas just won't take the right shape or form. Do writers ever run out of ideas? Doesn't the block say that something else is wrong? Something bigger? I don't know."I think he's right. It's always something bigger. (Often, in my experience, acedia.)And then, when asked if you have to have suffered, in order to write, he answers no. But then says this: "I can't imagine writing and thinking, this is easy. I'm marvelling at those words. This. Is. Easy. They're impossible. I might as well say, 'I'm a Martian.' "There I go again, saying that you don't have to suffer, while admitting that the process is an act of suffering. Still. No one said that this had to be logical."His observation about how, even in the midst of a troubling situation, the author part of him is detached and observing and thinking "how interesting!" - oh dear, so familiar. It never turns off, and it does make you feel a little inhuman at times. But only because you're so deeply interested in the human. So weird.Anyway, fascinating book. You probably want to have watched Dr. Who before reading it, as the book discusses his writing process in putting together series 4 of that show. But this guy is a master storyteller, and it's fascinating to see behind the scenes, into the work of putting that story together.p.s. I should add, I suppose, so no one picking up this book on my recommendation is surprised, that Mr. Davies is a gay atheist, and that shows a lot in his writing. Which makes sense, your worldview always does (and should). And I think this particular worldview makes this an often depressing read, because it's a bleak worldview. But, if you are an artist, I think there is enough here well-worth reading that it is worth slogging through the hard stuff. Much, I hope, as any Christian writer could get an honest read from a honest atheist, though he'd find some of the Christian's thoughts hard going. I guess that's as much as to say (though it probably doesn't need to be said), that though I do think there are some things bad enough not to read, I think that we should be as charitable reading people that we disagree with as we would be listening to someone we disagree with, and listen and read the way we'd want to be listened to and read. I guess it's a kind of literary Golden Rule.*Sorry for the digression. I do think it's worth thinking about though: how can we read with both discernment and charity? Some of it, I think, is also to be reading books where we can expect to do nothing but learn and soak in truth, books like de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life, or Willard's The Divine Conspiracy, to balance out the books where we are learning some things and thinking through others and disagreeing with yet others.*btw, I also think there are some things that are not worth reading, most of the time, much as there are some people who are not worth having a conversation with, most of the time. Think pornographic books and abusive people. But I think most civilized people who disagree with each other can profitably converse, just as most civilized people who disagree with a nonetheless worthwhile author can profitably read his book. If that's not true, how could any Christian read Plato or Aristotle? And think what we'd miss if we couldn't!

  • Chris
    2019-02-20 20:54

    The ultimate answer to: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’The all too human insights into writing! YAY! Russell is like one of us! He procrastinates, he deliberates, he worries, he stresses. As a writer, I loved this book. It helps if you are a fan of Doctor Who, but if you ever wanted a balls-to-the-wall honest insight into the thoughts behind the writing process (the forming of ideas, the influences from others) this is the book for you.600+ pages of bliss!

  • Marian
    2019-03-16 19:02

    Holy cow, did I enjoy this. There are so many little tidbits on writing that I loved, like:"If you're a writer, don't fret away the hours worrying about this structure stuff. All the joy and fear and fun and despair is in the writing, not in the flowchart."But it's not all about writing, not in the way writing books are these days. It's about the life of a writer at the peak of a crazily successful show, at the possibly most frenzied time in his career, and how the creative process happens at all during that madness, and how he very nearly falls apart during the process. (He really does sound clinically depressed at several points, bordering on breakdown, and he'll start to wonder if he's depressed but then he'll dive into self-doubt, like "how selfish of me to think I'm depressed," which is pretty much exactly how it went for me... anyway.) I was my most obsessed with Doctor Who for seasons 3 and 4, which is the span of time this e-mail correspondence (a free flow between him and journalist Ben Cook; this started out as an idea for an article), and it's utterly fascinating. There is a point where Steven Moffett has read the first book - the current edition is actually two books - and says, "I thought you just sat there typing all day, laughing." Which is pretty much exactly how I pictured Russell T. Davies life before this. (And Davies says, he thought the same of Moffett!) How much fun his job must be! But it's an insane amount of work, and I have even more respect for him now, because he really did an amazing job.Even the episodes I really had problems with (Midnight, and Waters of Mars, for example), I really enjoyed reading his e-mails while he was talking about writing these, and what the reasons were for those choices. Very cool. It is like the best extended running commentary EVER.One thing I keep thinking about is how we are all a little guilty of looking at someone else's life from the outside and thinking, "Ah, there is someone who has it all figured out and who has it all together." I'm going through this a little with Lin-Manuel Miranda right now. I'm about as obsessed with Hamilton right now as I was with Doctor who 7 years ago. So reading this is a GREAT reminder that no, you have NO clue what is going on in someone's life based on the outward persona. There is an awful lot of incredibly difficult behind-the-scenes work going into all that work that looks like effortless genius.I'll finish with a few favorite quotes:"To be honest, I have trouble with 'escapism' full stop. It's usually a derogatory term. Or condescending. At best, cute. Is the person who goes upstairs for a couple of hours a week to write a never-published work, or watch Star Trek, or play with a train set, actually escaping? It makes a pastime, whether it's a hobby or a job, seem tiny and silly, when it's a vital part of your life. It's best summed up by that encounter with the Time-Check woman the other week. Writing is actually my way of engaging with the world, not escaping from it."Preach!"People should change in life. Isn't that the point? I struggle so hard to be liked that I retard my own development.""People say, 'You're so successful,' as though that makes my life all stardust and happiness. If you know the slightest thing about human nature, you'll know the opposite is true. It just makes me a target." That's not the most cheerful note to end on, but I think it sums up my favorite take-away from the book, that putting people on pedestals doesn't help them, or you. We're all just human beings, doing the best we can in these wild, beautiful, crazy, unpredictable, lovely lives.

  • Erik
    2019-03-19 00:59

    Having completed a two-month long viewing of the entire new Doctor Who series courtesy of my Netflix queue (I bought them all shortly thereafter, I gushingly admit), and while waiting for the new series with the new Doctor and companion in just a week’s time, I ordered up the second updated edition of Davies and Cook’s email correspondence through Amazon (using a generous Amazon gift certificate I received on my birthday last month) and devoured it in a less than a week. Yes, all 700 pages. Which ain’t all that hard to do when a.) you’re on Spring Break, and b.) you can’t put the darn book down. My love for the Doctor knows no bounds, it seems. In a nutshell, this hefty tome collects all the back-and-forth emails exchanged between Davies and Cook (more of the former than the latter, in actuality) during the three year period beginning when Davies started sketching out the plot threads and story-arcs for Season Four, and ending with his completion of the final Tennant specials that aired at the close of 2009 and beginning of 2010. (Since then, he has relocated to LA with under BBC America/Worldwide to develop Torchwood America with FOX. Can you spell B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T?)Some of the more interesting insights that I gleaned from Davies’ hilariously witty and snarky banter with Cook were the initial ideas for the Tenth Doctor’s final season and subsequent specials that never developed beyond mental sketches in his mind. For instance, imagine a Season Four that might-have-been with Penny Carter, instead of Donna Noble? (The former eventually made it into that season’s initial episode, although in much diminished status.) Or what if Buckingham Palace had been blown to smithereens – with a cameo by Prince Charles, no less -- in the 2007 Christmas Special Voyage of the Damned? (In hindsight, that would have lessened the impact of the events in Turn Left, towards the close of Season Four.) These are just many of the delicious twinklings of ideas that were considered by Davies, many of which never saw the light of day – let alone the front of a TV camera.Also just as intriguing is being able to witness second-hand the exploding cultural obsession with all things Doctor Who in the UK since the series was restarted in 2005. (I missed it as I was last there in 2003. But I’m sure that come this summer when I return to the Isles, I’ll see first-hand how much it has pervaded their culture.) Here’s hoping that Moffet, Smith, and Gillan are able to make their dream come true of causing a Who-Invasion here in the States when they arrive next week in NYC for a special screening of the new series leading up to its premiere on BBC America. (In all honesty, this show is better than the last UK cultural bomb that dropped on America. That being a certain bespectacled boy wizard. Oh, was that sacrilege I just uttered? Jeepers.)Whether you’re a newly-minted Who fan as I am, an aspiring writer, or, -- even better – both, this book’s an absolute gem. Run, don’t walk, to get it in your fanboy/girl-loving hands. Not only will you not regret it, but you won’t be able to put it down.

  • Cat Treadwell
    2019-02-27 16:56

    STOP – this isn’t just another book about ‘Doctor Who.’ Bear with me, please.This book shuld be mandatory reading for any aspiring writers out there, science fiction and otherwise.It contains more information about the writing process than any other book I’ve read (including those written specifically for that purpose).Essentially, this is a collection of emails between RTD and journalist Benjamin Cook (with some lovely photos and sketches to brighten things up), through discussion about the development, impact and sheer joy of writing something that has become internationally successful. But it’s so much more than that.Yes, there’s lots of joking around. Think of the emails you write (never intended for publication) – flippant comments, discussion of new TV shows, chaps you fancy, drunken whingeing. That’s there too. And it simply makes us aware over and over again that these are Real People. Not ‘Celebrities’ – just two men talking. You will laugh out loud, more than once.RTD is clearly a writer through to his bones. He’d be writing even if he wasn’t successful – despite the inevitable neuroses gained by tapping away into a laptop in the small hours of the morning, he’s compelled to simply tell stories. And his sense of fun, wonder and slight shock that people like his work is clearly displayed.It’s in his attempts to put into words an extremely personal, visceral and amorphous process – writing itself – that makes this book into a true gem. Those nights spent procrastinating before a deadline. Times when the ideas just don’t come. Huge flurries of work as the muse strikes, only to have key ideas rejected. Having an entire universe (and more) in your head, of which only a fraction finally appears in public.The Timelord that he writes about here may have an entirely other life outside of RTD’s (unconfinable by any single individual, in fact), but in terms of this book, his tale is simply a frame by which we learn about story, character and the human feeling that goes into their creation.If you want to write fiction, read this.

  • Ian Banks
    2019-03-04 20:42

    There are any number of books on writing that detail how to go about it. I've read more than my fair share of them, seeking advice on how to spark up my own literary offerings (hint: the only advice that ALL writers offer is to read a ton and write a ton and to keep doing it). To read about the process from the guy who restarted possibly-my-all-time-favourite TV show is, to coin a phrase, FANTASTIC!Mr Davies reads like he talks, at about a mile a minute. I think I would have hated to have had him in my classroom as he appears to be that kid with an opinion on everything. But he does sparkle, and he does make you nod and he does make you understand how writing can transform a life and that, while it may seem effortless - and, when you're in the moment, rattling off several thousand words a day is pretty easy - making it read well is a completely different matter. He also really enjoys writing and telling stories and creating memorable characters and situations and, while I don't think his era of The Show was particularly brilliant about realistic SF (Season 18 was about the only time in the shows 35 seasons/ 50-something years, IMNSHO, that there were people involved who really tried to make the S as prominent as the F), he did create some terrific drama.It helps that he has a sounding board in Benjamin Cook, who interrupts or erratically steers the conversation back on topic with some well-thought or well-targeted questions about the creative process. And, in true organic collaborative style, some of the ideas brought up influence the direction of the scripts.And it is the scripts that are another real highlight here: we get draft versions of four episodes (Voyage Of The Damned, Partners In Crime, The Stolen Earth and Journey's End) and it is really interesting to see them in comparison to their televised counterparts, with commentary from Mr Davies about how they would/ did change from paper to screen. Great fun, insightful and often hilarious.

  • Stephen Bates
    2019-02-21 19:51

    This is a year in the life - told in emails between the two authors - of the original New Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies. This thick and weighty tome covers his time writing the fourth season of the show, from around early 2007 to early 2008 and even covers stuff like the Christmas special "The Next Doctor" and onto Series 5.For those interested in writing or Dr Who - or both - this is a great read. I got it as a Christmas present and it's nice to dip into it and read a chapter, although chapter breaks seem somewhat random. It's also full of snapshots from the show, doodles by RTD himself (he's a surprisingly good cartoonist) and behind the scenes stuff. Some of the things touched on about writing rings true (to me), although - of course - I don't have any experience writing a well-loved, award-winning TV show watched by millions.Of course, whilst reading this book, you learn a number of things about RTD - He's much taller than he looks, He's sex-mad, he's insecure and always doubting what he's written, he writes to "entertain" not necessarily to get things "right" and he smokes like a chimney - and discover events that went on behind the scenes of one of the greatest shows on TV.A few scripts are also included in this book (the Kylie-starring 'Voyage of the Damned' Christmas special and the spectacular end of season 4 two-partner, I think). These are shown piece-meal as Russell writes them and so changes are made as the book progresses. It's interesting to see that the end of season 4, with Rose back on the alternate Earth, changed a number of times. I personally don't think the end we finally got was actually the best of the revisions.So, it's a fun book, very easy to read and recommended to all Dr Who fans. "Marvellous!"

  • JA
    2019-03-11 21:57

    I really loved this book -- enough that I stayed up too late several nights because I just wanted to read a few more pages -- but I think that says a great deal about my level of Doctor Who fandom, as opposed to whether it is intrinsically a great book. I can imagine it also being of interest to someone contemplating a career as a writer, or especially specifically as a screenwriter. But for me, the primary joy of it was reading the descriptions of work in progress on specific scripts, knowing how they ended up, and learning about the initial (sometimes wildly different!) ideas and how things changed along the way. I also personally found the email-epistolary format fairly charming. This may be because I'm a long-time email user, so it feels very natural. And, it may also be that I've seen so many DVD commentaries and special features with Russell T Davies that I already knew his voice, in a manner of speaking. (I did tend to find myself wondering, "who is this other guy?", and eventually looked him up on wikipedia which helped a little).All in all -- if you are a fan of the "new" Doctor Who, and think you might enjoy reading hundreds of pages of Russell T Davies' email correspondence (interleaved with a few photos, captures of text messages, and the odd quoted magazine article just for luck), then this is for you. Note: I actually read the second edition, called "The Final Chapter", which I gather is about twice the length of the original. I may have picked the wrong one on Goodreads, but I am too busy to try to figure out if I can fix that (any way other than starting over).

  • Martin
    2019-03-08 19:01

    There's no shortage of glossy "Doctor Who" books on the shelves but this is by far the most revealing. It digs deep and gives the reader a fascinating insight into the exhaustion, exhileration and relentless hard slog that goes into the flagship show. Read it, even if you don't care for DW, if you want to know the truth about a writer's life. It's very warts-and-all, at times very funny, and always comes over as being honest. You won't get closer than this to finding out why things turned out the way they did. In particular, RTD's thoughts on "Journey's End", the S4 finale, are intriguing and reveal how he copes with the inevitable gulf between his first concept of how a story should end and the version that reaches the screen, subject to the limitations of budget, time, actor availability and overall tone.Like the Doctor himself, RTD clearly feels under pressure as the man everyone looks to for answers, he finds it almost impossible to relinquish control of his beloved show, yet a part of him longs for a break from the constant creative demands on his energies, preferably before the stress kills him.There are certainly a few dark nights of the soul here, but also complete versions of the scripts of "Voyage of the Damned", "Partners in Crime" and the explosive two-parter finale, including the early drafts and absorbing explanations for the way things changed later. An extra bonus is a plethora of photographs, some from deleted scenes, and RTD's unexpectedly witty and professional cartoons of cast and characters.

  • Emma
    2019-03-17 17:54

    This is a book that not everyone would enjoy, since you obviously need to have an appreciation of Doctor Who.However, for anyone interested in both the programme and script writing it is a fascinating read, as Russell T Davies discusses how he writes the scripts for the show, talking in depth about his thought processes, formation of ideas and how his work is effected by outside influences, as well as his own feelings about being a writer. For someone who has already watched the finished series (series 4)it is equally fascinating to note just how much the first-draft scripts have evolved into the show that we see on tv and how versatile the writers have to be to take into account changing actors, budgets and even current issues etc.The book is presented as a planned, but unedited, chain of emails between Russell T Davies and Ben (?) his co-producer, where they discuss series 4 as it's being planned and written. Despite this, there is a lot to read, especially is that whole chunks of the first-draft scripts are included and commented upon in the book.Of course not everyone would agree with Russell T Davies' methods and he hastens to add that there is no 'correct' way to write, but nonetheless it's always fascinating to learn how professionals approach their work and his views back up my own, that writing is instinctive and is not constucted formulaically.I think this is an excellent book, which captures the essence of what it is to be a writer and one which has certainly inspired me to pursue my love of script writing.

  • Stephen Theaker
    2019-03-18 01:03

    An absolutely brilliant book. Doctor Who's been blessed with a wonderful range of non-fiction works over the years, not least among them Benjamin Cook's book on the audio adventures, but this tops them all.You get to see what goes through the mind of the man presiding over what's arguably the greatest triumph of modern British television. There are dozens of surprises in here. Sometimes it's how early some things happened (Steven Moffat had written the first pages of episode 5.1 - to be broadcast in 2010 - by 13 January 2008), and sometimes how late they were left (Russell Davies is still writing 4.13 on 18 February 2008 - only a few months before broadcast).You learn about scenes that weren't filmed, scenes that were but went unused, companions who missed their chance, and all sorts of other things. Don't show your face on Outpost Gallifrey without having read this from cover to cover: you'll seem hopelessly uninformed.And once you've read it, hopefully you won't post on there without thinking about the effect that a needlessly cruel comment can have on the people putting in sixteen-hour days to make this programme.I'll probably come back to this review to add more to it over time, because there's a lot I'd like to say about this book, but for now I'll end just by saying it was terrific.

  • Luis F.
    2019-03-10 18:44

    Larguísimo pero fascinante libro en forma de intercambio de correspondencia en el que Russell T. Davies, el showrunner de las cuatro primeras temporadas de la versión moderna de Doctor Who, nos cuenta en directo lo que fue el proceso creativo de su cuarta y para él, última temporada de la serie. Un making off de lujo, pero mucho más que eso, porque además de darnos un punto de vista privilegiado sobre los entresijos de la producción, nos habla sobre todo, de lo que es el proceso de escritura, y las transformaciones que sufre una historia en la cabeza del guionista de una serie de televisión, desde que es un pequeño concepto hasta que cobra vida en pantalla. Su interés va más allá del que pueda tener el aficionado a la serie británica, sino que es interesante para cualquier persona con curiosidad sobre el proceso creativo de un escritor.La única crítica que puedo hacerle es que esta edición extendida añade una muy extensa última parte centrada en los cuatro especiales posteriores a la cuarta temporada, en los que también participó Russell t. Davies, y que aunque ofrecen gran catidad de detalles sobre el making off de estos especiales, no son tan interesantes a efectos del Russell T. Davies como escritor, Con todo, el libro es de lo más recomendable.