The Writer's Tale
A unique look into the BBC's most popular family drama, 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.
Reviewed on 20th January 2009
This is not the least good book in the entire space-time continuum. I have really, really, really, enjoyed this one.
'The Untold Story of the BBC series' is what the cover says this book is, but I don't think that quite does it justice. This contains the daily thoughts and feelings of Russell T Davies, the genius behind the new Doctor Who. This is the story of a year in the life of Davies, a man with the craziest life livable, and it's actually truly comforting to know that he's a real person after all - and not some sort of alien genius writer sent to earth to lull us into some sort of TV slavery.
But I digress. Reading this is like seeing the whole of Series Four evolve from the roughest ideas into the finished product. And although you know it will all be okay in the end, the correspondence still generates an urgency and building tension as Russel's deadlines get closer and closer before he has started writing.
In my head, Doctor Who's production was perfect. All the stories were planned out way in advance, the scripts written long before filming commenced. But now I know the truth of it is far more exciting than that - and no one knows how it is going to end until the last possible minute!
My only quibble with this tome is the length of some of the script extracts. These are first drafts of four of Russell's scripts reproduced, bit by bit as they were written. In hindsight though they are vital to the plot - to see how the ideas changed from the beginning to the finished product on our screens.
I can only hope that Russell and Ben continue to communicate, and that they feel it appropriate to publish again! Also, the hints of Who to come are tantalizing... and annoying knowing it's still another year before series five.