Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks

Newsletter: Inventing the Master

Hi – it’s that time of the week again, where we cast an eye over the past few days of Doctor Who and check the most popular articles on Kasterborous!

The big news has of course been the reaction to the Collectormania appearance by Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, and whether any/all of these former Doctors might make an appearance in the 50th anniversary year or special.

Naturally, we don’t know – but what we do know is that we’re a couple of weeks into our mammoth marathon review of the entire classic series, which kicked off with the very first serial, 100,000 BC and is currently up to The Aztecs. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of checking these reviews, please visit the Doctor Who @ 50 category and join the conversation!

Next week we hope to (finally) bring you an update to the Time Leech charity edition, but in the meantime…


Top News Stories This Week

Would the Classic Doctors Return for 50?

Colin Baker, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy all attended the Collectormania convention at the weekend, and spend some time answering questions from fans – ALL IN THE SAME ROOM!

Naturally, there was a question that had to be answered: would the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth stars of the show return – if asked – for the fiftieth anniversary?

Tom Baker: Well, if they ask me nicely or I could see what they wanted me to do I would consider it because I think the fans have been so good to me, they expect me at least to make an appearance so of course I would consider that. If it was something witty but I would want to know what the detail of the scene was or what I was supposed to do. I just don’t want to be paraded through as some shagged out old icon of the last century.

Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Tom Baker, Paul McGann and Peter Davison at Collectormania

Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Tom Baker, Paul McGann and Peter Davison at Collectormania

We’ve heard that Tom would be interested in coming back for the 50th anniversary, would the rest of you?

Colin Baker: No

Sylvester McCoy: Yes.

CB: No

SM: Oh, all the fans will hate you.

CB: I think hate is a powerful emotion. Get some hate going and when you’re somebody nice, a little bit nice, they like you again.

TB: I think it would depend. I said I’m not automatically in, if the BBC ring me up, naturally of course I get very suspicious. Even if you say ‘BBC’, I think ‘allo, ‘allo dodgy. But if they ring me up and ask me if I want to take part, I would want to know what they would want me to do.

CB: Exactly.

There’s much more than that in the full published interview in the Independent

Nighy *Was* Offered Doctor Who Role

Bill Nighy Was Offered Doctor Who Role in 2004Remember 2004? This was the year in which shooting began on Doctor Who Series 1, the year in the Daleks joined, withdrew and then rejoined the series, and of course the year in which Christopher Eccleston and then Billie Piper were cast.

Of course, for Daily Mail readers, it didn’t quite happen like that. In an event that slightly echoed the online storm between two websites concerning the casting of the Ninth Doctor, the infamous right-wing newspaper declared that Bill Nighy had been cast as the Doctor.

For the rest of the world, Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor; in fairness, it’s hardly the first or the last time the Daily Mail had attempted to reshape reality to suit its own ends.

Since then, Nighy – who notably appeared in 2010’s Vincent and the Doctor and is a star of films so diverse as Love, Actually and Underworld – has kept quiet about the affair, but speaking to The People at the weekend he revealed:

“I was offered the role once, I won’t tell you when because the rule is that you’re not allowed to say you turned that job down because it’s disrespectful to whoever did it. I will say that I was approached. But I didn’t want to be the Doctor. No disrespect to Doctor Who or anything. I just think that it comes with too much baggage.”

While the Daily Mail might have got things a little wrong with their bold declaration of Nighy as the Doctor, they were certainly right about him being offered the part…

What do you think? How might Doctor Who have developed if Nighy had taken the role?

All The Doctors

It’s hard enough trying to reunite five friends but imagine trying to wrangle five generations of actors – all famous for playing the same role, all with respective careers at various levels of success, together to potential play the role that made them household names.

It’s barmy, right?

Then again Doctor Who is fantastical by nature and with the news that, potentially, that five Doctors; Colin Baker, Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davison and Paul McGann, all reunited, all very warm and chatty, would be interested in appearing alongside the contemporary incarnations of the Doctor – it’s fantastic!

Sure, Colin Baker’s emphatic ‘no’ might not have been that surprising given the history he has had with the BBC, but it was a pragmatic answer – there has been no offer, so why would he declare his interest?

It would be surprising if he decided not to do it on the grounds of recrimination.

Colin’s position seems more akin to Tom Baker – whose request of ‘something witty’ to bring his incarnation back to the screen, is simply a request for good material – it might be a celebration but let’s not get lazy. And that’s taking for granted that the age difference could be explained away convincingly and wouldn’t be a stumbling block for any of the Doctors potential appearance.

In footage of the exciting meeting, posted on YouTube by Alonsireviews, Tom Baker talks of how much he owes the fans and doesn’t simply want to be a ‘shagged out old icon of the last century’:

Sylvester McCoy also speaks of not disappointing the fans while both Davison and McGann (whose appearance would require the least amount of technobabble to explain away the age difference and more tantalisingly, has the least established timeline, and that’s no disservice to Big Finish) were silent about their involvement in the anniversary.

It’s a question that might not be the most comfortable to ask but: If there was still some animosity towards the way the show was handled during their respective runs would the individual Doctor’s let it overshadow how much it has given them in return?

Christopher Eccleston remains the obvious stumbling block with his seemingly untenable position reagarding his time on the show.

No one knows the exact circumstances that led him to distance himself from the machinations of the Beeb’s senior staff but he seemed adiment that he wouldn’t return: ‘Never bathe in the same river twice’ he reportedly said in 2011.

It’s impossible, crazy and, with nobody willing to confirm anything other than ‘interest’, it feels as though it could all fall apart at any moment but if animosity could be overcome, an idea could encapsulate the passage of time and changes in appearance, then maybe, just maybe all the Doctors could return.

First Look at the New Team

The BBC’s Official Doctor Who website informed fans earlier this week that we would be seeing a few snaps of the Eleventh Doctor and his as-yet-unnamed new best friend…

Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman in Doctor Who

…and here it is!

Matt Smith has revealed that shooting is going well at the new Roath Lock Studios.

‘Jenna brings a really different energy to the show – one which I think is very interesting.’

More photos are promised next week

They look good together, don’t they? The Doctor’s new outfit looks particularly dashing too – let’s hope we see a lot more of it (although I daresay the Harris Tweed industry isn’t too happy…)!

Steven Berkoff Cast in Series 7!

Bad guy character actor Steven Berkoff cast in Doctor Who Series 7

Responsible for scaring the hell out of kids for years with this portrayals of uncompromising villains, Steven Berkoff has been cast in Doctor Who Series 7!

You’ll probably know Berkoff most from Octopussy (1983), in which he played the bonkers General Orlov, or Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) where his sadistic role placed him opposite Sylvester Stallone.

Even Brian May is scared of him!

Latterly, Berkoff has appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine but his career has also seen the actor cast in The Avengers and UFO. He also played a notable role in the second episode of the revived Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in 2000.

Episode 4 is where we will see Berkoff in an episode written by Chris Chibnall (42, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood) and directed by Douglas Mackinnon (The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky), but we’ll have to wait for the story title…

Also cast is in the episode is Jemma Redgrave, a member ofthe famous acting family who you may recognise from the Victorian medical drama Bramwell or The Buddha of Suburbia.

Would it be safe to assume that Berkoff is the episode’s bad guy? Time will tell…

(Via DWM)


From the Vortex: Inventing the Master – Interview with Terrance Dicks

Back in 2007, Gareth Kavanagh caught up with Terrance Dicks at the “Who at the Cavern 2” convention where he discussed the creation of the Master, who first appeared on screens in 1971.

As we enjoy the newly rejuvenated Master on television, we’re very proud to present not only the first “Black Scrolls” branded article on Kasterborous, but also an interview with the man who conceived the Master – Terrance Dicks.

Gareth Suppose we will flash back to 1970. Jon Pertwee’s been through his first year and there is obviously a change in the air in terms of the formula, and the Master is a large part of that. Do you remember where the Master first came from?

Terrance Yes, very clearly. It came out in one of the many serious creative discussions that Barry Letts and I used to have in the bar after work and at lunchtime and we were discussing the fact that the Doctor has often been compared to Sherlock Holmes. I suddenly had the idea that what he needs is Moriarty and you’ve really got the whole thing there – the arch enemy, and it all came out of that discussion, the Time Lord once a friend of the Doctors who had gone to the bank and become this arch enemy.

G So equal but opposite, in essence.

T Absolutely, yes! And immediately, Barry Letts said, and I know exactly the actor to play him; Roger Delgado.

G So there was never anyone else in the frame?

T You could literally say the part was written for Roger from the very beginning, because Barry who had been an actor, had worked with him and knew he had got this splendid, sinister charm. So he was perfect for it.

G I think you had always said he’d had a career playing the sinister Spanish Ambassador.

T That’s right, the Spanish Ambassador plotting against good Queen Elizabeth in the corner and generally up to no good. Or the KGB’s master spy!

G So it was always Roger Delgado. And was it always intended to have him feature in every story of that first series?

T Well, generally it was and it worked for a while but we ran into problems in that the end of every story it is revealed that the villain is the Master, so ‘sameishness’ starts to creep in. So we decided that the thing to do was to have him pop up sporadically and that was fine. It worked very well. But it wasn’t fine for Roger, who came to Barry one day and said, “Look I’m losing work because everybody thinks I’m in Doctor Who and they think I’m still in it but I’m not”. So he wasn’t getting a full season’s work out of us and he was missing opportunities. And he said “I think I’d better definitively leave” and Barry said “well how do you want to leave, do you just want to vanish or do you want to go out, with a bang?” And Roger said he would like to go out with a bang. And we were in the very early stages of discussing a story for him in which he engages in some final titanic struggle with the Doctor and is eventually destroyed and we thought possibly by sacrificing himself for the Doctor and at the very last minute he can’t bring himself to kill him.

G Which of course he never could in the series anyway

T Well he always tried some totally elaborate things such as shooting when he got a chance. So never more than a very early discussion

G So would that have been a similar story that transpired to what happened with Planet of the Spiders, as popular theory is that the character of Lupton, a lot of that narrative would have been taken by the Master?

T I’m not aware of that, you’d have to talk to Barry Letts about that, it’s not anything I’ve heard before. As I said, it was just a small bit of discussion in the very early stages, it never got anywhere.

G There are so many theories on this. Please just say yes, no, warm or hot on any of them! The Doctor and Master were brothers?

T All that is speculation. None of that is official

G The Doctor and Master were two sides of the same person, the id and the ego?

T Well, metaphorically if you like to put it like that, yes, the good versus the evil. The Master had some good in him.

G I think the other thing is the Master has sometimes been quite controversial in the way that he has been used as a dramatic device. There is a theory about the Master as articulated by a writer in ‘License Denied’ who voted for the Master as the series’ ‘All time worst villain’; “the rationale is consider who he is. The Master is a semi-regular adversary for the Doctor, he reoccurs, he is not Moriarty who appears in one Sherlock Holmes specifically to destroy the great detective, he is not therefore, the Doctor’s nemesis, he is therefore an arch enemy in the mould of the Joker or Blofeld and it is the nature of such characters to pop up regularly to pester the protagonist. Theirs is a mutually defining and endless loop of hero-villain antics”. Have you any comments on this?

T It provides people with an opportunity to amuse themselves by spinning various fantastic theories. And best of luck to them! It’s got nothing to do with me and nothing to do with Doctor Who. Well, it’s about Doctor Who, but it’s got nothing to do with the show. Its just fans! Spinning lunatic fans! And why not!

G I love Delgado’s Master on the whole. Do you think the character would have been better served if it had ended with Delgado?

T Well, it is such a good character that it would have been a pity to waste it. I always felt sorry for Anthony Ainley because Roger was such a tough act to follow, and everybody’s going to say he’s not as good.

G So fast forward to 2007. We’ve had Cybermen; we’ve had Daleks; we’ve had regenerations. What we haven’t had is the Master, though.

T Well, there are rumours that we are going to.

G If you were bringing him back, how would you like to see him brought back?

T Difficult to say as it’s the only other part like the Doctor that depends very heavily on casting. I don’t think his character was going to change except in terms of the actor that plays him. There is an argument that the mistake they made was with having the carbon copy Master, and there’s something to be said for having a completely different character who is yet the same man. That will be interesting to see.

G The clips I’ve seen of John Simm, seem to suggest he is going to be more like a Tony Blair reincarnation.

TLess sinister, more charm you mean?! Some of the clips do seem to show a Tony Blair figure. The Conservative demon eyes poster!

G Time will tell. Terrance, thanks very much!


Terrance Dicks was speaking to Gareth Kavanagh

Competition Time: Dark Horizons by JT Colgan

Up for grabs this week is a copy of Dark Horizons, a new Doctor Who novel by chick-lit author J.T. Colgan.

Featuring the Eleventh Doctor, the story sees the Time Lord arriving on a Scottish island prior to an attack by the Vikings, with interesting and mythical consequences…

So what do you need to do to win?

Simply reply to this email with subject line “CUPCAKES!” and tell me the name that J.T. Colgan usually writes under.

Good luck!

Interview Exclusive: Chris Boucher on XXX

Image of the Fendahl writer Chris Boucher discusses the importance of humour in Doctor Who.

Thanks for that. It has rather cruelly been suggested that I will cheerfully sacrifice plot and character in pursuit of a gag. It’s a lie of course. I would only do that for a good gag. For what it’s worth I think humour is absolutely essential in any thriller worth the name. You cannot maintain tension or even build it in the first place without relieving it from time to time.

If you don’t use wit and humour to do that all you’re usually left with is rather leaden exposition and gratuitous padding and the sudden realisation that the characters are not the sort of people you want to waste your time with. Besides which what is the immediate reaction to fear? Instinctively it’s aggression but if you can get past that you mostly laugh. I think real fear and thus real courage often express themselves in humour. When you’re clinging to reason a joke can be the only thing between you and the darkness.

As far as Doctor Who is concerned I think humour is important for those reasons: humour but not the sort of whimsy which eventually seemed to become the show’s default approach. Whimsy has a tendency to be soft and a bit silly which is not to my taste and which did not play to the show’s strengths in my view.

Chris Boucher was speaking to Gareth Kavanagh




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