In the past few weeks I’ve been back in the U.K. working in London on the BBC’s flagship sci-fi, time-travelling, monster-drenched space opera series "Doctor Who."
But, before I get hundreds of emails asking me for “contacts” at the show, as it’s even more popular in the states than it is in the U.K., I have to point out I wasn’t working on the show itself. Not yet, at least.
No, as someone who appears to have become (by design rather than accident) an expert on children’s writing, I’ve actually been writing for the BBC Worldwide children’s magazine "Doctor Who Adventures." This has been a ‘hard’ freelance gig. It involved watching every "Doctor Who" episode over and over again, creating puzzles about season six, designing pages, writing features and playing with the latest Doctor Who toys.
It’s tough, but someone has to do it.
My children’s entertainment experience in the past few years has included writing for them and doing inspirational staff training on storytelling and audience development for the Roald Dahl Museum, BBC, Harpercollins, British broadcaster ITV and Whirlwind Media. My latest foray next week will see me heading to the Nickelodeon Studios in London to interview the fabulous Victoria Justice and the cast of American show "Victorious."
But back to "Doctor Who," because I’ve wanted to do some more BBC work since I wrote several scripts for their prime-time medical dramas "Casualty" and "Holby City" several years ago. It was great to be in London again, to meet the team and take a large step towards my (not so) secret goal of writing an episode of the show within the next 18 months. Yes, I realise this is a tough dream to crack, but I’m up for the challenge.
And the next couple of years are going to be an incredibly exciting time to be part of the unstoppable "Doctor Who" juggernaut. If you’re a fan, buckle up.
There is the 2011 Christmas special coming up, where it’s been revealed two major characters – the Doctor’s companions Amy and Rory – will not be appearing. And, even though the show will have a long hiatus from our screens until September 2012, I can confirm the plans for the Doctor’s 50th-anniversary in 2013 are taking shape already. And it’s going to be truly magical. It’s going to be epic. It’s going to be a thunderous explosion of geeky alien-filled indulgence.
I can hear your heartbeats quickening already – I can’t wait!
On the near-10-month "Doctor Who" absence in 2011, showrunner Steven Moffat has said it’s happening because “I’m sick of standing in the blazing sunshine, with a barbecue fork in my hand, knowing that "Doctor Who" is coming on any minute”.
This may sound somewhat weird – especially to you lovely Californians who are more than happy to have a barbecue and watch a show, possibly on your TV in the garden – but Moffat’s words are linked to a very British mentality of the cold winter nights closing in and everyone needing to cozy up with a nice cup of tea by the fire.
In the new book "Doctor Who: The Brilliant Book 2012" by Clayton Hickman, Moffat goes on to explain that: “The truth behind the delay next year is: why are we killing ourselves and risking compromising the show, in order to go out in the middle of summer? Six o’clock on a sunny Saturday is the middle of the afternoon, whereas six o’clock on a winter or autumn Saturday is dark and exciting”.
And dark and exciting is what all "Doctor Who" fans will be looking forward to, especially as many stars of the show – from years gone by – will be returning to be part of the 50th-anniversary celebrations. You can expect big story arcs, adventure, special effects galore, laughs and a possible answer to the big question set at the end of season six: “Doctor Who?"
I realize this probably sounds like a "Doctor Who: advertorial I've written on behalf of the BBC. But I can promise you, it is not. I've not been paid in any way to write this, I'm simply a massive fan and very passionate about the show's stories, high production values, brilliant scripts and geek-filled sci-finess.
Yes, that’s right: The hype starts right here, right now. And I’m looking forward to being a part of it.