Robert Shearman

“Easy Laughter” resulted in a death threat, I believe?

Doctor Who writer Robert ShearmanIt caused a bit of controversy, and a few death threats. But the productions I saw of it, at least, trod that very fine line between being provocative and merely childishly offensive. It was only when I began to hear plans of pro-fascist readings of the play in Europe that I began to get more controlling about it. And it’s very rarely revived now.

You short story “Damned if You Don’t” meanwhile has the surreal setup of a man becoming cellmates with the ghost of Hitler’s pet dog!

The very amiable ghost of Hitler’s pet dog.

Their relationship is very sweet, and ultimately very disturbing, and I think it’s that twist of the knife that upsets people. But all the way through the story the hint of something very dark is there – this is Hitler’s dog, for God’s sake, and you forgive him terrible statements because he’s just so cute.

If we make allowances for evil too readily – and we do, of course we do – you end up where Damned takes us. Love Songs has a few stories in it that gave me pause for thought as well.

It seems almost cowardly not to write pieces which push the boundaries of what’s acceptable comedy, just because you’re worried about the response. It’s all too easy to come up with a sick idea for a joke or a story – but if you know there’s a justified and honest reason for that sickness, I have to write it even if it means pushing some people’s buttons. There’s nothing wrong with pushing buttons sometimes. That’s what buttons are for.

Robert Shearman is among the guests at Vworp 3 on Sunday, 18th July 2010, where he will again chat to Christian Cawley, this time about his 6 favourite Doctor Who moments.

Meanwhile, you can purchase Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical from

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