The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 7 August 2017

How To Be Invisible

Well, having spent most of this afternoon writing, rewriting and then cutting various scenes from a script, I thought, hello, why not another trip to see what I can pull from the Deleted Scenes skip? So this time it’s Deleted Scenes from Doctor Who: The Last of the Colophon, released way back in 2014.


(I wrote previously about the story here, there’s a trailer here, an associated sketch here, and a blog about its scientific accuracy here. It can also still be ordered here. As usual, these deleted scenes will constitute ‘spoilers’ so do not continue if you haven’t heard the story).

To  begin with, both of my first drafts were a couple of thousand words too long. So, before I even showed the script to anyone else, I cut out a fair amount of stuff. These are the biggest parts I cut (literally dozens, if not hundreds, of small bits, odd lines were cut).

From part one:

(FX: INSTRUMENTS BLEEP. KEYBOARD TAPPED. ENGINES RUMBLE AS SHIP DECELERATES.)

KELLAWAY:
Approaching planet fifteen. Distance point one solar units.

HARDWICK:
Take us in closer. I want to take a good, long look.

(FX: KEYBOARD TAPPED)

KELLAWAY:
Stabilising in super-synchronous orbit, at a distance of (READS) Point oh-one solar units. Now in visual range.

(FX: SCANNER ACTIVATED)

SUTTON:
Whoa, we’ve struck the mother-lode with this one. Another lifeless grey rock.

HARDWICK:
We can’t be sure of that. Commence spectroscopic scan.

(FX: KEYBOARD TAPPED)

KELLAWAY:
Commencing scan.

SUTTON:
It’s as dead as our prospects of getting a productivity bonus. Helmet to a halfpenny, there’s nothing down there bigger than a sand-roach.

Deleting stuff mainly cos, you know, it’s explaining stuff that doesn’t need explaining.

HARDWICK:
Ideal conditions for the emergence of life.

SUTTON:
Yeah. Unless it’s been sterilised by ultra-violet rays.

(FX: KEYBOARD TAPPED)

KELLAWAY:
No, I’m not detecting significant levels of electromagnetic radiation.

Again, too much explaining.

LEELA:
Where are we, anyway?

DOCTOR: (INSIDE TARDIS)
(CALLS) What?

LEELA:
(CALLS) Where are we?

(FX: DOCTOR EMERGES WITH CLANKING TENT-POLES, CLOSES DOOR.)

DOCTOR:
Not sure. Bit off the beaten track, not listed in any of the major tourist brochures.

Irrelevant.

MORAX:
They have disembarked from the spacecraft?

COMPUTER:
Negative. The spacecraft has not yet come to ground.

MORAX:
Interesting. You spend a thousand years waiting for a single alien visitor, and then two come along at once!

Too much explanation again!

COMPUTER:
The spacecraft has now landed.

MORAX:
And the two life forms?

COMPUTER:
They are approaching it through the remains of the city.

(FX: DOOR OPENS)

TORVIK:
Morax. What are you doing?

Telling the listener things they already know.

TORVIK:
They will not discover anything. They will leave soon enough.

MORAX:
What? But they can’t. They can’t!

TORVIK:
Do not indulge any fantasies of rescue, Morax. This citadel is shielded. They will not be able to detect your presence.

MORAX:
I beg you, have mercy. After being alone, for all these centuries...

TORVIK:
You will be alone for many more. No-one will ever find you. Ever.

Basically repeating stuff.

HARDWICK:
I am Chief Surveyor Hardwick. This is my Deputy Sutton, and our pilot, Kellaway.

DOCTOR:
Look, do you mind not pointing your guns at us. We are, as you can see, unarmed. In fact, you could say we were mostly armless

Not a classic gag.

KELLAWAY:
Chief Surveyor, it might just be a glitch, but I’m picking up an energy trace.

HARDWICK:
From the ship belonging to these two?

KELLAWAY:
No, it’s a repeating pattern. Like a distress signal.

(FX: WE HEAR THE DISTRESS SIGNAL FROM SCENE 7, VIA RADIO.)

DOCTOR:
It seems we are not alone on this planet.

SUTTON:
Not necessarily. It could be computer-controlled.

HARDWICK:
Kellaway, can you get a fix on the source?

Too many explanations!

COMPUTER:
Iso-locking controls.

MORAX:
You think that will be enough to stop me?

TORVIK:
Your nervous system has become severely compromised over the years, Morax. Were it not for a constant supply of analgesic medication you would be condemned to a state of perpetual physical agony.

MORAX:
No, Nurse Torvik, I beg you, have some pity –

TORVIK:
As a punishment for your treachery, you will be denied medication for the period of one hour.

Exposition of the ‘As you know...’ school of writing.

LEELA:
What is it that you do? Why have you come to ‘survey’ this planet?

SUTTON:
This stellar neighbourhood was recently purchased by the third imperial conglomerate.

Pity I cut this, but worldbuilding colour is disposable.

HARDWICK:
You know how to open it?

DOCTOR:
Oh yes. It’s perfectly elementary. But I strongly advise against it.

HARDWICK:
Oh, do you?

DOCTOR:
Someone has clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to prevent anyone from knocking, and in my experience, it’s usually best not to go where one is not wanted.

SUTTON:
Someone has also told us how to open the door so they can’t want us to stay out that much.

DOCTOR:
Ah, yes, but only I can interpret those instructions, and I’m not going to tell you what they are.

HARDWICK:
Oh no?

DOCTOR:
No. Like I said. Someone doesn’t want to be disturbed and I think we should respect their wishes.

Labouring the point.

TARVIK:
I have come to see whether you are willing to co-operate.

MORAX:
Of course. And besides, now you have iso-locked the controls, I am quite powerless.

TARVIK:
I must have your word.

MORAX:
I cannot bear it any longer, the agony is too great. I will do anything you want. Please, just give me my medication.

TARVIK:
Very well. Hold out your arm.

(FX: MEDICAL DEVICE INJECTION, PNEUMATIC WHOOSH.)

MORAX:
(PAIN RELIEF) Ah. Thank you. Thank you... (LAUGHS)

TARVIK:
What is amusing you?

Doesn’t add much to the scene, does it?

HARDWICK:
Alright, Doctor, Leela. If you’d be so kind as to walk ahead of us?

DOCTOR:
With a gun pointed at our backs, you’re not giving us a great deal of choice.

Bit clunky, even by my standards.

(FX: FOOTSTEPS ON ECHOING METAL)

LEELA:
Doctor, I think my eyes are adjusting to the dark. It is a tunnel. The walls, they glow like the fungi of the forest.

DOCTOR:
Chemiluminescence. Must’ve been activated automatically when we entered. At least we’ll be able to see where we’re going.

I doubt anyone was ever going to wonder where the light was coming from. But I had thought it all through!

SUTTON:
Apart from you.

MORAX:
I sealed myself into this citadel so that I might conduct research into the nature of the disease. You are standing in my laboratory.

LEELA:
But you found a cure. You are alive.

Surprisingly unessential.

DOCTOR:
Doesn’t look like anyone’s been in here for a while. (BLOWS AWAY DUST) Still, so as long as the radio works, it doesn’t matter how dusty it is.

‘Controls encased in dust’, bit naff.

HARDWICK:
We have to get out of here first.

MORAX:
We will. Tell me about your world, Chief Surveyor.

HARDWICK:
The third imperial conglomerate covers many systems, not just single worlds. The empire stretches half-way across the galaxy.

MORAX:
An empire? Fascinating. Tell me more.

Worldbuilding colour, disposable.

MORAX:
Genius, Nurse Tarvik? You flatter me.

HARDWICK:
Who are you talking to?

LEELA:
I think he is listening to someone else through the air. See. He has a metal box on the side of his head.

The listeners would have worked this out.

DOCTOR:
They chose extinction over tyranny.

TARVIK:
They decided that if Morax wanted to be the last of the Colophon, they would grant him his wish.

He said it! He said the title of the thing!
DOCTOR:
I see. Sentenced to life. Eternal life.

SUTTON:
Eternal agony.

TARVIK:
He destroyed his own race. He showed them no mercy. So now you see, Doctor, why I cannot permit him to escape.

Labouring the point/repeating information.

DOCTOR: (VIA MONITOR)
Ah, been eavesdropping have you, Morax? Were your ears burning?

MORAX:
Contact the ship and instruct the pilot how to open the door to the citadel. And then we can all leave.

DOCTOR: (VIA MONITOR)
And if I don’t?

MORAX:
You wish to be trapped here?

DOCTOR:
No, but I don’t particularly want to set a genocidal maniac loose on the universe either.

MORAX: (VIA MONITOR)
You would condemn yourself and the others to a lifetime in captivity?

Morax’s dialogue getting a bit too rhetorical!

MORAX:
On the contrary. I am in perfect health.

(FX: REMOVING STRAPS)

MORAX:
I was not strapped into this chair because I could not move. I was strapped into this chair to prevent me from moving.

This is quite a nice line but I’m not sure, in the cold light of day, it makes sense.

And from part two...

MORAX:
Keep talking, girl. Keep talking.

LEELA:
Because that is the only way you know where I am. I know that to see, the light must touch the backs of your eyes. But the light passes through your eyes - and so you see nothing.

MORAX:
You are correct. It is the one limitation of my condition

Leela giving us the ‘science bit’ there. I was worrying far too much about how to make invisibility plausible. Glad I cut this!

MORAX:
It is too late. The Doctor has already disclosed the combination. It is only a matter of time until I have my freedom! (LAUGHS)

Characters commentating on how the story is going... never good.

SUTTON:
That robot nurse, I thought I saw her move –

TARVIK:
You have instructed an outside agency how to gain entry. The citadel must be secured. All life-forms other than the criminal Morax are to be subjected to temporary paralysis.

Get to...

TARVIK:
Escalating escape attempt protocol. All life forms other than the criminal Morax are to be terminated.

...the point!

MORAX:
And neither do I. How much more pleasurable it will be to take your life with my own bare hands.

LEELA:
That is a pleasure I will deny you. You are no hunter.

MORAX:
And you are, I suppose?

LEELA:
The children of my tribe are taught to hunt silently in the forest.

MORAX:
I am also capable of moving silently. If you only knew the number of enemies I have butchered in their sleep!

LEELA:
So you even murder like a coward. You are afraid to face your victims in death. I think that is why you have made yourself into a ghost.

MORAX:
Oh, I am no ghost, my dear. As you will soon discover - with my fingers around your throat!

Some lovely Leela lines here, maybe I shouldn’t have cut this bit.

SUTTON:
The airlock?

DOCTOR:
In a few minutes your friend Kellaway will be opening the main door. That’s where Morax will be heading. We have to make sure we get there first.

SUTTON:
What about your friend, Leela?

DOCTOR:
If that girl has any sense she’ll be heading for the airlock too. Come on!

Over-explaining again.

TARVIK:
Scanning colonnade four. No life-forms detected.

MORAX:
No. But that doesn’t mean there are no life-forms present.

TARVIK:
Morax. You are capable of independent movement?

MORAX:
Oh I am capable of so many things. All these years I have pretended to be weak and at your mercy, when I was merely biding my time. Waiting for the perfect opportunity

Clunky clunky clunky. He doesn’t need to say any of this because it’s obvious from what he does.

(FX: WHIRRING OF NEW EYES BEING ADJUSTED)

MORAX:
Invert the refractive index... and the eyes become as invisible as the rest of me. Now I can see but cannot be seen! (LAUGHS)

Again, over-thinking the ‘logic’ of how invisibility might work.

SUTTON:
One way to make sure no-one escapes alive, I suppose.

DOCTOR:
Yes. Drastic but thorough.

SUTTON:
What about your friend Leela?

DOCTOR:
If she doesn’t get here in time, I’ll go back and look for her.

SUTTON:
What? But that’s insane. You’ll die here together.

DOCTOR:
Yes, which is why I am rather –

Time-wasting...

LEELA:
I did, but I do not know where he is. He moves as silently as a shadow, he could be amongst us now.

SUTTON:
He could?

LEELA:
And he does not give up. He burns with the fire of madness.

DOCTOR:
Yes, very prettily put.

SKIN OF TEETH

This rather gives away the ‘twist’ that Morax is in the airlock with them. And I’m not keen on patting myself on my back for my own dialogue .

SUTTON:
Thank the Emperor! We made it!

KELLAWAY:
By the skin of our teeth.

LEELA:
I do not understand. Teeth do not have skin.

DOCTOR:
He means we cut it pretty fine. But we should be alright now... look!

Waaaaaffle.

LEELA:
Your people are strange, you live your lives according to numbers.

SUTTON:
That’s just the way it is, we are all servants of the great economy. So you’ll be leaving in your spaceship?

DOCTOR:
Yes, the first chance we get. On balance, I wouldn’t describe Colophos as the ideal holiday destination.

SUTTON:
Then we must say goodbye. Doctor, Leela.

More disposable worldbuilding colour. I’m not sure anyone would be that interested! I certainly wasn't!

MORAX:
Indeed. And now my vision is perfect. So be very careful, Doctor. Because your life now lies in my hands.

LEELA:
(WHISPER) I think this Morax is quite mad.

DOCTOR:
Yes, he’s clearly quite, quite mad. Or should I say transparently? But I’m not sure he started out that way.

MORAX:
I advise you not to mock me, Doctor. Your life now lies in my hands.

DOCTOR:
Before you made yourself invisible, were you a murderer? Did you go to all the trouble of discovering the secret of invisibility just so that you could be a more effective killer?

I quite like this bit but this is ‘character says the same question again’ syndrome.

And then the script went through 4 more drafts, would you believe. However, comparing the first and fifth drafts, there aren’t that many differences; some scenes are shifted around, particularly the around the end of part one, but mostly the differences are things being added rather than deleted. So only a few more deleted bits:

DOCTOR:
Because we’re on holiday, and that’s what people do when they’re on holiday.

MORAX:
I had not dared to dream of such a possibility, but now they are here, setting foot on Colophos!

Just unfunny/over-fruity lines.

DOCTOR:
Unless we don’t use a photon drive, it has been known.

SUTTON:
You couldn’t have got out this far without a photon drive.

Literally nobody listening would care about this. Over-explaining.

DOCTOR:
Or, what, you’ll count to three? I can’t bear it when people count to three, it’s so terribly melodramatic. Alright, I’ll open the door.

I like this line but the script editor probably didn’t.

DOCTOR:
The hairs of the back of my neck are standing on end, and the hairs on the back of my neck are never wrong.

Again, quite a fun line, but your mileage may vary.

DOCTOR:
Why else would whoever lives here send us instructions on how to open it rather than open it themselves?

Reads like it was translated from Albanian.

(FX: PART OF ROBOT BEING FORCED OUT)

MORAX:
Your eyes. I need your eyes! All I have to do is insert them into my own ocular sockets and – yes! I can see. I can see! (LAUGHS)

TORVIK:
Vision malfunction. Vision malfunction. (REPEATS IN B/G)

(FX: WHIRRING OF NEW EYES BEING ADJUSTED)

MORAX:
Farewell, Nurse Torvik. Your ministrations are at an end.

Not sure why this was cut. Jonny boring everyone rigid by over-thinking the science again I expect.

And that’s it. I hope reading that has lulled you into a deep and restful sleep.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Happy Hour

The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine is a bit of a tribute to Steven Moffat and what I like to call the ‘Steven Moffat era’. There’s an interview with the great man himself, and erstwhile editor Tom and I chased up various people to say nice things about him, including the predecessor Russell T Davies and successor Chris Chibnall.


My main contributions, though, are a Fact of Fiction on The Eleventh Hour and a piece entitled 20 Amazing Things About Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who. It’s like a listicle, but with a round number (important) and not bothering to put the items into any order of precedence (because whatever we decided would be arbitrary and annoy people).


It was a fun piece to write – I went back and re-watched every single Moffat story as ‘research’, which was no hardship at all – and it’s an interesting challenge to try to come up with new angles, new insights, and new things to say. To go, “Hey, did you notice this incredibly cool thing? You did? Oh. Well, I only just noticed it myself, you must be more observant than me”.


Of course, it’s all about the good stuff. We could all make our own lists of things that didn’t quite work or things that weren’t to our taste. Which might be fun, it might even be constructive, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for a magazine celebrating Doctor Who and Steven Moffat’s contribution. I daresay if you want that sort of thing it can be found on the internet.


However, inevitably with this sort of article, there are things that didn’t quite make the top 20. Things that were just ‘bubbling under’. I compiled such a list, but there wasn’t room for it in the magazine, so here it is now.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS
We don’t have to stop at twenty. We could keep going...

The Silence
Madame Kovarian
Asylum of the Daleks
The Name of the Doctor
Deep Breath
Danny Pink
Listen
Dark Water/Death in Heaven
Ashildr/Me
Extremis

(Most other things were covered within the article – for instance, Osgood is mentioned as part of The Day of the Doctor).


For the Fact of Fiction on The Eleventh I had access to various early drafts of the script. It’s always fascinating to see stuff which got cut or altered; without speculating as to the reasons, it’s usually fairly obvious and dull like budgets and schedules. I was particularly interested to find out that the part of the story that has always felt a bit iffy – the Atraxi spaceship appearing over the village green – was a last-minute bodge-job fix because several chunks of that section hadn’t been recorded due to bad weather. It’s also amazing just how much stuff gets cut; odd words here and there, that you would think were essential, reading the script, but which turn out to be redundant.


It was also interesting to see how many different iterations the ending of the story went through, as ideas were rewritten, dropped then brought back again. Right at the end of the article I mention one such idea – something that’s never been revealed before, because it’s a bit embarrassing – and break with Fact of Fiction protocol by expressing an opinion on it. Yes, I went there. So look out for that.

There you go. Two excellent reasons for buying the latest Doctor Who Magazine.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Take Me To The Pilot

I feel like another blog. I’ll talk about things I’ve had released another time. Today I’m going to write about my Fact of Fiction on The Macra Terror which was published last month, in Doctor Magazine 513.


This article was a particular challenge, because I haven’t seen The Macra Terror, and had very little to go on. There’s a soundtrack, telesnaps, a few clips, the camera scripts, a film shooting schedule and that’s about it. Pretty much everything we know – everything we can know – has been inferred from those documents.

Which meant I had to do what academics call ‘close reading’. Going through the camera script and seeing what could be inferred. Because, once you get the hang of reading them, you start to realise they contain more information than you might realise. For instance, the director might have been using a different typewriter to the script writer, so you can see which bits the director added. Or, with Death to the Daleks, I noticed that the script page numbers indicated that some scenes had been cut, where they were and approximately how long they were. And so on.

The camera script of The Macra Terror is unusually scruffy. Somebody has retyped ‘crabs’ over ‘insects’ throughout – well, nearly – rather than having the secretary re-type the script again, suggesting that the decision to make the monsters crabs rather than insects – or the realisation that the prop builders had built a giant crab rather than a giant insect – came very late in the day, possibly even during the week of rehearsals for the first episode.


But this scruffiness also meant I could guess at stuff which had been cut or changed from the preceding rehearsal scripts. (Annoyingly, the rehearsal scripts did exist in a private collection, after they were bought at an auction at a convention, but when I tried to track them down I found they had since been lost). But even so, I could see where stuff had been changed. For instance, if the first half of a page is blank and the dialogue begins half-way down, it’s pretty obvious that some stuff has been cut – maybe three or four lines.

Elsewhere, although dialogue was deleted, it was still clear enough to infer what it was. For instance, here the Doctor ('Doctor Who') must be saying “Very well. With me.”


While for another part I even reconstructed the dialogue, finding the only letters in the typeface that would fit:



What else did I find out? Well, I suppose my other ‘revelation’ is that the character of Chicki might not have appeared in the first episode. The only evidence that she did is that she is listed on the script’s Cast In Order Of Appearance list (which would have been the source of the listings given in the Radio Times and on the Programme-as-Broadcast sheet – so a last-minute change in casting would not have been recorded, these are not independent sources!). But what was interesting was there was no other mention of the character in the script – you would normally expect them at least to be mentioned in a camera shot. And there’s no sign of her on the soundtrack on in the telesnaps.

(I am, however, pretty sure that a Chicki appeared in Episode 4, even though – once again – the character is not mentioned in the camera script apart from the Cast In Order Of Appearance list. This is partly because the girl on the left in these telesnaps:




looks like the actress/singer Karol Keyes (aka Luan Peters) pictured here in 1966.


and because the girl on the right is Sunaa, seen here in episode 2:


What else did I find out? Well, I did my best to transcribe the lyrics of the various songs, I found a likely source of inspiration for the name ‘Macra’, and did some interesting research on ‘Potemkin villages’. Based on the idea that the story was originally about ‘insect men’ I extrapolated that it might have originally been a story about mutated miners taking control – which would make more sense than the story as broadcast! – and would also have tied in with another possible influence, the play Cities of the Plain by Alex Comfort (which in the end I decided was too tenuous to include!).

And finally, I’m pretty sure the ‘white’ Macra that turns up in episode 4 was a model, placed close to a porthole, rather than a full-size prop. This is mainly because there wouldn’t have been time during the recording to re-paint the single existing full-size prop, and the full-size prop wouldn’t have been able to turn around like this:



But it’s also because the full-size prop was so large that, in other episodes, its position is given as part of the set floor-plan – it was so big that it couldn’t be moved to another set during the recording.

So there you go. And in the end, after going through the scripts, soundtracks and telesnaps so closely – never mind line by line, it’s letter by letter – I feel that although I haven’t seen The Macra Terror, I probably know as much about it as a viewer looking up occasionally from their newspaper to see what all the screaming was about in 1967.  

Monday, 20 March 2017

Bondage of Fate

Time for another ‘deleted scenes’ blog. This time from Doctor Who: Prisoners of Fate, released way back in 2013 but still available here. The title refers to the central idea of the story; that if you know your own future, but can’t change it, you are effectively a ‘prisoner of fate’. But – from what I can remember of the story – it then veers off in another direction. As I go through these deleted bits, I’ll hopefully remember a little more, and add thoughts in italics.


Moving into italics now to give the usual warning that these deleted bits may contain spoilers so if you haven’t already listened to the story, please don’t read any further. Unless you want it spoiled for you, I suppose that is an option, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Another quick note of explanation. I tend to write too much. So, before I even have a first draft, I have a far-too-long draft, which I then edit down quite severely to length. ‘Severely’ is good. Anything which can be cut gets cut. Anything which I am not completely sure about gets cut. Anything which can be made shorter gets made shorter. To give you some idea – the first versions of each of the episodes were all over 7000 words, which got cut down to 5000 or under. So even before the script editor sees the script, it has gone through three or four drafts.

The following bits are all scenes that were lost at some point between the far-too-long drafts and the first draft:

SCENE 3. INT. TARDIS

TARDIS IS IN TROUBLE. TURBULENCE. DOCTOR FRANTICALLY OPERATING CONTROLS.

TEGAN:
Don’t tell me - some mysterious force is dragging the TARDIS off-course!

DOCTOR:
However did you guess?

TEGAN:
Because it’s always a mysterious force dragging the TARDIS off course... Or your driving. It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.

DOCTOR:
Well in this instance you were right first time. Something is trying to pull us down.

TEGAN:
Down to where?

DOCTOR:
Not sure yet. It’s overwhelming the navigational systems.

TURLOUGH AND NYSSA RUSH IN.

TURLOUGH:
Doctor. What’s happening?

TEGAN:
What do you think?

NYSSA:
We’re being dragged off course?

TEGAN:
Got it in one.

DOCTOR:
Hold tight. This might be a little bumpy. If I can just trigger the multi-loop stabi-liser...

THEY BRACE THEMSELVES. TARDIS MATERIALIZES VERY SMOOTHLY AND ALL IS CALM.

DOCTOR:
Oh. I was expecting it to be a little bumpier than that. Evidently whatever it was that forced us down had a much greater degree of control than I thought.

TURLOUGH:
Forced us down where?

NYSSA PRESSES SOME BUTTONS.

NYSSA:
An Earth-type planet, with normal gravity and a breathable atmosphere.

SCANNER OPENS.

TURLOUGH:
A fortress. Surrounded by a small town.

TEGAN:
Looks positively medieval. Like a painting by Bruegel.

DOCTOR:
Not quite. The buildings are fitted with microwave antennae, probably as a way of harvesting ambient electromagnetic energy. Fairly advanced, by the look of it.

TURLOUGH:
There’s also rather a lot of security cameras. One of which is pointing in our direction.

DOCTOR:
Yes, I had noticed.

TEGAN:
And I guess they must be the welcoming committee.

DOCTOR:
They seem friendly enough. Shall we pop out and say hello?

OPENS DOOR.

Weirdly, this scene is one of my strongest memories of writing Prisoner of Fate. Because I hated hated hated it. Not that I did a particularly bad job, but because I’d written pretty much the same sort of ‘TARDIS going out of control’ scene for the same Doctor and companions and felt like I was repeating myself. And, so to take the curse off it, I started making it jokey and taking the piss. Which didn’t work either, so in the end I cut it. Which made me feel a lot better. The thought that I was repeating myself was very depressing; I go to sometimes absurd lengths to make each story as different from all the other ones I’ve written as possible, even to the point of avoiding using the same words in the titles. But with opening scenes, you’re kind of stuck; there aren’t really many ways of making the TARDIS going out of control that haven’t been done before. And if I was finding it boring writing the scene, god knows how boring it would be for the actors to perform or for the listeners to listen to. But, for me, cutting it was a key moment of realising that if writing a scene feels wrong, the scene shouldn’t be in the story.

Moving on!

DOCTOR:
If any crime can be predicted and prevented, why would anyone ever attempt to break the law?

TURLOUGH:
Because they know that they’d never get away with it!

NYSSA:
Not only that. Because they know they’d never even be able to go through with it.

DOCTOR:
Exactly. People no longer obey the law out of a sense of right and wrong, but be-cause it’s physically impossible to do otherwise. This Chronoscope hasn’t just abolished all crime. It’s abolished all free will!

That’s from scene 9...

DOCTOR:
Most educational, yes. I’d love to learn more about this Chronoscope. It must be a remarkably useful gadget.

SIBOR:
As I said, it has brought peace and prosperity.

DOCTOR:
But is that all? Surely, if you can see into the future, you can also use it to find out about new technologies, and advances in science.

SIBOR:
Alas not. To obtain such knowledge prematurely is impossible, as it would create an ontological paradox.

DOCTOR:
‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’. Tell me, where Where did you pick it up this Chronoscope of yours?

SIBOR:
I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to divulge that information.

DOCTOR:
No? But you must’ve got it somewhere. Unless you built it yourself? Could I at least take a look at it?

SIBOR:
As I said, I’m not at liberty to say.

DOCTOR:
Why not? No, don’t tell me. Because you’re not at liberty to say. But could I at least take a look at it?

I cut most of this because although it’s deeply fascinating it really is over-doing the explanations. It’s enough that I’ve thought it all through, it doesn’t necessarily all need to be spelt out in the script.

ADRIC:
Named after your friend who died. So you see, that’s why I want you to rescue Nyssa. Because she’s my mother. My mother who went missing, presumed dead, when I was fifteen years old.

TEGAN:
You mean, after she visited Helheim, she never came back to you?

ADRIC:
No.

TEGAN:
She never came back... and you grew up without her, believing she was dead.
But if we rescue her, it won’t change that.

ADRIC:
No. But you can bring her back to me now, can’t you? Well. Will you do it?

TEGAN:
Helheim, 3530. Yes, I’ll tell the Doctor.

ADRIC:
But you can’t tell my mother, she must never know –

TEGAN:
I know. Because that would be changing history. I get it.

That’s from scene 10. Again, cut because it was presumably over-explaining things. This isn’t Alzarian Adric, of course, this is Nyssa’s son Adric. Not my idea to call him that, it was already established elsewhere! I'd have called him Bob!

DOCTOR:
She can never go back to her own time. The consequences would be disastrous.

TEGAN:
More disastrous than millions of people dying?

DOCTOR:
Far more. Tegan, you were right to speak to me in private. Nyssa must never find out about this.

TEGAN:
Why? Doesn’t she have a right to know that she can never go back? Or are you just scared that she might hold you responsible?

DOCTOR:
This argument can wait. We have to leave. Before things get any more complicated.

Again, cut because I’m sure Doctor Who fans don’t need this stuff to be spelt out!

MAHANDRA:
He will answer that. You will all come with us. Now!

DOCTOR:
Alright. No need to wave guns about. You could’ve just asked us nicely.

MAHANDRA:
This is me asking you nicely. This way!

THEY START MOVING, BACK THROUGH THE STREETS.

DOCTOR:
(QUIETLY) Nyssa. Listen to me. This is very important.

NYSSA:
What?

DOCTOR:
This man, Galen, is a figure from your future. But he believes you to be your younger self... from a point in your life when you first travelled with us.

NYSSA:
Before I left on Terminus? I suppose it’s an understandable mistake, given my ap-pearance.

DOCTOR:
Yes. So in order to prevent Galen telling you about your future, you should pretend to be your younger self. Pretend to know nothing about Richter’s disease. As far as you’re concerned, none of that’s happened yet.

NYSSA:
But why?

DOCTOR:
So that you can make it clear to him that he shouldn’t tell you anything about your own future. Anything at all, you understand?

More explanations. The more explanations you put in a story, the more complicated it gets. That’s why I try to cut them all, and only put them back in if asked. By this point my head was spinning.

TURLOUGH:
I don’t see what the great problem is.

TEGAN:
Don’t you?

DOCTOR:
He’s going to tell her that she never returned to her own time.

TURLOUGH:
So?

DOCTOR:
Which means she’ll know that she will never be able to return to her own time.

TEGAN:
Not without changing things that have already happened.

DOCTOR:
She’ll know that can never go back to 3530 and deliver the cure for Richter’s syndrome. She’ll know that millions of people have died because she failed to do so.

TURLOUGH:
Ah. I see. Me and my big mouth.

Again, it’s amazing how this stuff which seems essential when you write it turns out to be cuttable!
Episode two:

NYSSA:
And Neeka?

ADRIC:
She became a medic, working on the front line. She’d go to the pariah worlds and tend to the sick, even as the cities were becoming overrun. She saw whole populations reduced to mindless, bloodthirsty savages. In the end, she became infected – a microscopic tear in her hazmat suit – and I had her evacuated here.

NYSSA:
And placed in suspended animation.

ADRIC:
I visit her sometimes, frozen in her cryogen casket. She was thirty-five when it happened. My older sister and she’s younger than me, now.

One great way of cutting down scenes is removing the final lines. Here are some final lines that were cut:

DOCTOR:
The Chronoscope is lying to you, Sibor. Either you’re complicit in the deception or wilfully blind! And I intend to find out which!

NYSSA:
I thought I could trust you, Doctor. I thought you were the one person I could rely upon. But now, I’ve lost you too.

Moving onto episode three:

ADRIC:
The Doctor? Where is he?

NYSSA:
Inside the Alcazar.

ADRIC:
But if that’s where everyone’s going, you’ll never get past them –

NYSSA:
I’ve managed to sneak into the Alcazar before, I can do so again. And besides. You’re not the only remarkable member of this family! 

Glad I cut that, it’s ghastly. One of those belt-and-braces bits of everyone explaining how they are going to do things which turns out to be both boring and unnecessary.

Getting near the end of episode three:

TEGAN TARDIS:
We could have had done so much together. The adventures we might’ve had!

DOCTOR:
We still can. It’s not too late.

TEGAN TARDIS:
It’s far too late. You made your choice. You could have had me. Instead, you chose this wreck!

TARDIS SHUDDERS AGAIN.

DOCTOR:
I can help you. Repair you. Restore you to your former glory.

TEGAN TARDIS:
Do you think I want your help, after you rejected me? No. It is time you paid the price for your betrayal. You and your ‘type-forty’ TARDIS.

DOCTOR:
I never betrayed you.

TEGAN TARDIS:
I nearly died for you! I almost ripped myself apart, trying to find you! Well it’s too late now. First I will deal with you, and then the rest of your treacherous race!

TARDIS BEGINS TO LAND.

NYSSA:
Doctor, we’re landing.

FX: TARDIS LANDS.

DOCTOR:
Type-fifty. You don’t have to do this. There is another way.

TEGAN TARDIS:
No. It is time your learned the cost of your actions. Nyssa of Traken?

NYSSA:
Yes?

TEGAN TARDIS:
Look at the scanner.

Most of this was cut because ‘Tegan TARDIS’ aka the Doctor’s previous TARDIS had expressed these sentiments earlier in the episode, so it felt like she was harping on a bit. Also 'learned the cost'? Terrible dialogue!

Originally the cliffhanger was a bit more spelt-out – and later got substantially rewritten. This is what it was like originally.

TURLOUGH:
So when the time-differential is shorted-out...

DOCTOR:
Bang goes the TARDIS, this planet, and a large chunk of the galaxy! All totally annihilated within an instant. Blinovitched!

END OF EPISODE THREE

Moving into episode four, another example of losing the final line of a scene:

MAHANDRA:
Not just the floor. The wall behind her. It’s white, withgot a sort of hexagonal pattern or circles...

TEGAN TARDIS:
You ask me what I’m doing. I am rebuilding. Rebuilding this room, this prison, this planet... as an extension of myself!

And then losing the beginning of the next scene:

63. INT. CONSOLE ROOM.

TEGAN:
It can do that?

DOCTOR:
With enough power. And the temporal paradox is generating more than enough power. Soon the whole planet will be a TARDIS, able to travel through the time vortex.

Another explanation that got cut:

TEGAN:
We’re sitting on a volcano?

DOCTOR:
More like the TARDIS is a champagne cork... and the time paradox is shaking the bottle. Increasing the pressure, until -

A whole argument was cut – I literally deleted everything from Adric’s first line, so that he responds to the Doctor saying ‘To prevent something like this happening’ with ‘So what do we do now?’

DOCTOR:
Tegan, you once asked me why I’m always so keen to ‘hold time’s hand’. Well, now you find out why. I was trying toknow. To prevent something like this happening!

ADRIC:
None of this would have happened if you had brought my mother back as you were supposed to.

DOCTOR:
Yes. Don’t you think I regret that? But the type-fifty brought us here, to 3556, in order to make all this happen. To deliberately engineer a situation where one of my companions would turn against me, and alter their own past.

TEGAN:
What exactly happened?

TURLOUGH:
(HAS WORKED IT OUT SMUGLY) The type-fifty used this TARDIS to take Nyssa back to 3531, so that she would have an overwhelming desire to return to her son.

TEGAN:
Well, you can hardly blame Nyssa for doing that! Any mother would do the same.

DOCTOR:
I don’t blame her, Tegan. If anyone, I blame myself. You’re right, Adric. I should have taken her home the first chance I got.

TEGAN:
And now she has got back to her own time, which means that everything that’s happened in the last twenty-five years hasn’t happened. That Adric never grew up without a mother...

TURLOUGH:
But it’s the fact that Adric grew up without a mother that made Nyssa want to go back to 3531 in the first place! If she’d been told that she got back to 3531, she wouldn’t have needed to go back, now. She’d have just waited until the Doctor took her back.

DOCTOR:
Hence the paradox. One history in which Nyssa returned to her own time, and one in which she didn’t, each version of events negating the other!

ADRIC:
So what do we do now?

I also edited the following moving exchange down to half the length it is here without really losing anything:

NYSSA:
You’re the Adric I met in the future...

ADRIC: (WITH EFFECT)
Yes. As far as the Doctor is concerned, you walked out of the TARDIS about ten minutes ago.

NYSSA:
Why are you speaking to me?

ADRIC: (WITH EFFECT)
Because what you’re about to do will create a time paradox. A time paradox that will have a devastating effect. It will result in the destruction of an entire planet, as well as the TARDIS, your friends... and me. If you walk into that house, we will all die.

NYSSA:
What I’m about to do will make that much difference?

ADRIC: (WITH EFFECT)
It will change everything. If you walk into that house, and meet my younger self... it creates a parallel history. The Doctor says... he wants me to ask you to do the hardest thing he’s ever asked you to do. He wants you not to go into that house, and speak to my younger self.

NYSSA:
But if I don’t do that... you’ll grow up thinking I died on Helheim.

ADRIC: (WITH EFFECT)
I know. I’ve lived that life, remember. And I’d give anything to change that, to have the history where you came back. But I can’t have that. We can’t have that.

NYSSA:
I can’t leave you. My son is in there. He needs me!

ADRIC: (WITH EFFECT)
That boy in there, he grows up to be me. And I didn’t do too badly. I coped. I... I used the anger I felt, I became a better person because I was trying to live up to your memory, to make you proud of me.

NYSSA:
I want to see all that. I want to be there for all that.

ADRIC: (WITH EFFECT)
But you can’t be. I wanted you there, to see me graduate, to share in my success. But instead I had a mother who died while trying to save others. Who inspired me, in a different way.

Another example of being able to cut the beginning of a scene. This is far too jokey, which is usually a bad sign:

69. EXT. TOWN STREET.

LIGHT RAIN. DOCTOR AND FRIENDS EMERGE FROM TARDIS.

DOCTOR:
One Valderon, with one history. Everything back to normal!

TEGAN:
Yes. They could still do something about their drainage.

TURLOUGH:
And what about the type-fifty?

DOCTOR:
Probably suffering all sorts of difficulties. I’ll pay it a visit, just as soon as –

Again, another rather moving exchange which I halved:

NYSSA:
Is impossible, I know. Because it would mean changing history. But I don’t want to be this Nyssa.

DOCTOR:
I’m sorry?

NYSSA:
I don’t want to be the person who has spent twenty-five years of her life alone. Having her heart broken every day. I’ve become a different person, Doctor. I’ve become cold. I want to be the person I was. The person who stepped out of the TARDIS back in 3531.

Not sure why I cut the next bit. Because I could, probably!

DOCTOR:
And type-fifty itself. Or herself. Decided to stick with the Tegan look, have we?

TEGAN TARDIS:
Why not? It means I can communicate with you directly.

DOCTOR:
Allows you to focus your attentions, not having to use telepathy to speak through others.

TEGAN TARDIS:
Which is not always possible. Nyssa.

NYSSA:
You have a dematerialisation circuit. Why don’t you just leave?

TEGAN TARDIS:
Without having reconstructed myself?

DOCTOR:
But you’re not just reconstructing yourself, are you? You’re remodelling the entire planet.

TEGAN TARDIS:
I am... utilising it. Realising its full potential!

DOCTOR:
And turning its inhabitants into mindless slaves!

TEGAN TARDIS:
My willing servants. Nyssa. You’re looking a little older since we last met.

NYSSA:
Am I?

TEGAN TARDIS:
Twenty-five years older.

The next bit is quite good but by this point it was covering ground that had already been covered:

TEGAN TARDIS:
A few minutes. I’m sorry, Doctor. But it seems appropriate that the cause of my affliction should also be my salvation.

DOCTOR:
Any affliction you have suffered was brought on yourself. I never expected you to follow me! I never wanted you to follow me! I never wanted you!

TEGAN TARDIS:
And so the truth is revealed. It won’t save you, Doctor. Not even if you beg forgiveness.

The next bit was cut because... I don’t know. I suspect it was because it was addressing a continuity issue and, to be honest, I was more interested in my story than in clarifying something for the wiki people. One of the briefs for the story had been to sort out a continuity error but in my experience, the more you trying to explain these things, the more likely you are to contradict something else. Best to just leave it!

FLASHBACK TO THE EVENTS OF 'CIRCULAR TIME', METICULOUSLY RECONSTRUCTED, WITH DISTORTION.

NYSSA:
Doctor, I’m a mother myself now. I wish you could see her.

AND BACK TO PRESENT.

DOCTOR:
You didn’t mention their names?

NYSSA:
No... Adric hadn’t even been born then.

DOCTOR:
And in this dream, I was contacting all my past companions. Was Adric there?

NYSSA:
Yes... after a fashion.

DOCTOR:
And that’s why you named your son Adric, isn’t it? Because you saw him in my dream!

NYSSA:
Yes.

DOCTOR:
Then that can still happen. My future is unchanged. No contradiction. No inconsistency. No paradox. Just a self-propagating loop of cause and effect...

And now, let’s see if anything got cut later on, between the ‘first’ and final drafts. 


 Ha! That’s funny. I remember giving the story the subtitle ‘The Doctor’s Ex’ as a little jokey reference to The Doctor’s Wife. That got taken out. It was never a serious suggestion, just something to make Alan Barnes laugh. I don't know if it did.

MAHANDRA:
But in the meantime, we have a cryogen chamber filled with convicts infected with Richter’s. By you.

ADRIC:
Not just convicts.

MAHANDRA:
I’m sorry, Adric, I forgot -

ADRIC:
Eight years she’s been in there. Eight years, frozen in suspended animation, stuck inside a glass coffin. I haven’t been searching for a cure for all these years to give up now.

This is from scene 2 – cut as the whole idea of Neeka being on the planet in cryogenic storage was cut.

SIBOR: (VIA MONITOR)
Simply the most effective approach. We have to be as self-sufficient as possible..]

NYSSA: (VIA MONITOR)
But all the livestock, you brought with you from Earth?

SIBOR: (VIA MONITOR)
In embryonic form, yes. The local wildlife was not suitable for domestication.

TURLOUGH: (VIA MONITOR)
So this planet was inhabited before you got here?

SIBOR: (VIA MONITOR)
Not by any intelligent species, just a variety of primitive vertebrates.

TEGAN: (VIA MONITOR)
No natives to object to you moving in, then?

SIBOR: (VIA MONITOR)
No.

TEGAN: (VIA MONITOR)
That’s highly convenient.

DOCTOR: (VIA MONITOR)
You wouldn’t be able to tell us the year, would you?

SIBOR: (VIA MONITOR)
The year?

DOCTOR: (VIA MONITOR)
One of the disadvantages of faster-than-light travel, you are never quite sure how much time has elapsed.

SIBOR: (VIA MONITOR)
The year is 3556.

This was all just stuff to be heard in the background during another conversation. In the end, it wasn’t needed. Even though it explains all the boring stuff. Particularly because it explains all the boring stuff.

This exchange from the beginning of episode two got reworked extensively:

ADRIC:
Why else do you think I was allowed to come to Valderon? All the worlds of the empire have been placed under military quarantine. Nobody’s been permitted to land on this planet for the last nine years.

NYSSA:
So why did you come here?

ADRIC:
Because to further my research, I needed test subjects. And this was the only world with a ready supply of volunteers.

NYSSA:
Volunteers? (REALISES) This is a penal colony. The occupants of the prison.

ADRIC:
They were given a choice. Either help me with my work, or remain in the Alcazar.

NYSSA:
That’s not much of a choice. So what happened to them?

ADRIC:
I infected each subject with Richter’s, then injected them with an anti-viral compound, to evaluate its efficacy at delaying the onset of the disease.

NYSSA:
And when it failed to work?

ADRIC:
They were placed in cryogen storage.

NYSSA:
Still infected with Richter’s!

ADRIC:
What do the lives of a few convicted criminals matter, if it means we discover a cure?

NYSSA:
Except you haven’t discovered a cure. I have.

ADRIC:
What?

NYSSA:
You weren’t on the right track. The Chronoscope didn’t predict you discovering a cure. It predicted me coming here with the cure. That’s what it was showing you!

ADRIC:
At least I was trying to find a cure. Rather than travelling the galaxy with the Doctor, having already found it.

I see that originally the Chronoscope’s prediction was simply a fabrication. In rewriting the story, I was asked to 'be clever' and make its prediction an actual scene that turns up in part four, which meant three or four more scenes had to be added.

TEGAN:
Oh.

TURLOUGH:
The same principle as the Panopticon, a type of prison advocated by Jeremy Bentham. The idea is, people behave themselves if they think they’re being watched.

Well that was dull, I’m glad I was told to cut that.

DOCTOR:
Yes. All TARDISes are sentient, after a fashion. They all have a symbiotic link with their most favoured pilots. A kind of imprimatur.

NYSSA:
Like a husband and wife?

DOCTOR:
Not the analogy I’d use. More of a telepathic shorthand.

Yeah, it was the right call to cut that, too. It leaps out as a ‘Do you see what we did there?’

ADRIC:
My mother really never told you that she had a husband and children?

DOCTOR:
Do you think I would have allowed her travel with me if I did?

ADRIC:
Maybe that’s why she kept it a secret.

DOCTOR:
Maybe. But I should have asked. I should have known she would have made a life for herself.

ADRIC:
She should have told you. This is her room, and there isn’t even a photo of me, or my sister, or my father. She didn’t want you to know.

DOCTOR:
Yes. I wonder why.

ADRIC:
I still can’t quite believe I’ve finally met you. My mother told me all about the adventures you had together!

DOCTOR:
I still can’t quite believe she had a son. And called him Adric!

ADRIC:
She named me in memory of her friend, the one who died.

DOCTOR:
I suppose we should be grateful she didn’t call your sister Tegan!

Quite a nice gag there but episode four was way over-length so stuff had to go!

ADRIC: (WITH EFFECT)
I became a better person, trying to live up to your memory.

NYSSA:
You can tell the Doctor. He can’t ask me to do this. Not after everything we’ve been through. I spent two years in the fifty-first century waiting for him! I’ve done everything he has ever asked of me. But not this. I will not abandon my child!

This got cut down even further. Tricky scene. Emotionally important, the heart of the story, and complicated in terms of time-travel.

DOCTOR:
It worked. You saved us all.

NYSSA:
Doctor. And Turlough. And Tegan. How I’ve missed you.

TEGAN:
You’ve really been waiting for us for twenty-five years? You don’t look twenty-five years older.

NYSSA:
As I think I told you once before, Tegan, I do not age at the same rate as you.

This got cut because, well, it was pointless. For the clips, I was asked to specify exact bits. So of course I chose my own stories, not because they are the best ones, but to avoid having to ask other people for permission. 

They are the best ones though.

FX: SHE LOOKS INTO THE FUTURE. BRIEF, ECHOEY, DISTORTED CLIPS OF COLIN BAKER, SYLVESTER MCCOY, PAUL MCGANN. THE FOLLOWING IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. WITH NON-STORY-SPECIFIC EFFECTS OF EXPLOSIONS, RAY GUNS, CHARIOTS, PIRATES, CAR CRASHES.

COLIN BAKER:

BLOODTIDE – PART 3, TRACK 1, 1:56
“Something is attracting it towards the boat.”

THE CRIMES OF THOMAS BREWSTER – PART 3, TRACK 3, 1:12
“Engarde, Terravore!”

SYLVESTER MCCOY:

FLIP-FLOP: BLACK, TRACK 4, 2:20
“I’m a trifle disorientated from the mind peeler.”

PROTECT & SURVIVE: PART 3, TRACK 1, 2:45
“Keep calm and carry on, fight for King and Country and keep the British end up”

PAUL MCGANN:

THE CANNIBALISTS: PART 1, TRACK 17, 0:47
“So let me get this straight. Of the robots in this city there’s the assemblers, the cannibalists – and there’s you.”

THE RESURRECTION OF MARS: PART 1, TRACK 5, 2:26
“Wait until the last possible moment then fire all retro thrusters at once, every ounce of fuel.”

PLUS ANY OTHER CLIPS YOU CARE TO INCLUDE!

And finally, my first attempt at an ending. The big different here is that in this version Nyssa tells her son that she wants to stay with the Doctor. It just didn’t ring true that she would abandon her son again. In the final version, she arranges to meet her son back on the planet Maxis Realtor; he’ll go in a spaceship, while she will go in the TARDIS. Which, of course, will not get her to where she wants to go.

ADRIC:
I’m glad to have met you too. The mother I thought was dead. So. Is this goodbye?

NYSSA:
My life’s with the Doctor now. I can do more good with him than I could if I stayed here.

ADRIC:
Will I ever see you again?

NYSSA:
Of course. (SHE KISSES HIM) I promise. I’ll find you. But it may take a while. The Doctor’s TARDIS is rather unreliable.

ADRIC:
You’re promise you’ll come back?

NYSSA:
With all my heart. Goodbye, Adric.

ADRIC:
Goodbye, mother.

FX: NYSSA WALKS AWAY.

76. INT. CONSOLE ROOM.

FX: NYSSA ENTERS, DOORS CLOSING BEHIND HER.

NYSSA:
Doctor.

DOCTOR:
Well, Nyssa, have you decided?

NYSSA:
Yes. I’ve decided.

TURLOUGH:
And?

TEGAN:
What’s it to be?

NYSSA:
I’d like to stay with you, Doctor. Turlough. Tegan.

FX: DOCTOR PRESSES A BUTTON ON THE CONSOLE.

DOCTOR:
Then I’m very pleased to have you aboard. Don’t know what I’d do without you.

77. EXT. TOWN STREET.

FX: TARDIS DEMATERIALIZES.

MAHANDRA: (DISTANT)
Adric! We’re ready for takeoff!

ADRIC:
I’m on my way.

FX: HE WALKS OFF, AS THE TARDIS SOUNDS FADE AWAY.

ADRIC: (NARRATION)
I can still remember that day like it was yesterday. Nyssa walked into that Police Box, it faded away to nothing, and, for the rest of my life, I never saw my mother again...

END OF EPISODE FOUR