7 February 2011

SFX Weekender: Dr Who panel

Having secured a front-row seat for the first session of the day I stayed there for the second on the popular theme of Dr Who.

On the excellent panel were four writers who have told stories about the good Doctor on TV and in books over a number of years. And this time we had a moderator too to push things along and to keep some sort of structure to the debate.

What followed was a very insightful look at the life of a writer that raked through a large range of subjects including, writing for children and adults, TV and books, then and now, humour and horror, series and episodes, Sarah Jane Adventures, politics, gay role models and lots more besides that I probably should have made a note of at the time.

I especially enjoyed Toby Whithouse's accounts of writing for the modern Doctor where the demands of the audience mean that the pace has to be relentless to keep the kids involved and the plot clever enough to keep their parents involved too.

Toby wrote one of my favourite episode, School Reunion, and he told us how Russell T Davies said that it was too slow at one point and the way to fix that was to kill another child.

And that story hints at the one minor problem that I has with the session. I recognised the story School Reunion because it was set in a school but the Who fans threw episode titles around like confetti and none of the others meant anything to me at all.

Throughout the session, what came through strongly was each writer's passion for writing and for taking that mission seriously through research and planning.

Equally evident was their enthusiasm and the session was lively and totally engaging. I'd not call myself a Whovian (though I never miss the program) but I was totally enthralled by the discussion and was surprised and disappointed when it lost out to time and had to end.

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