The Interview

DWO caught up with Doctor Who: Hornets' Nest Writer; Paul Magrs to discuss the new Audio range.

For years, fans have been clamouring to hear news about Tom Baker returning to record some kind of new adventure. That day finally came with the announcement of Doctor Who: Hornets Nest. How does it feel to be part of the project that enticed Tom Baker back, and what was it like hearing him read your words?

It’s been a delightful process. It started almost a year ago and, when I was invited to pitch a story idea, I couldn’t believe it was actually going to happen. It seemed too exciting to be true. But you have to get on with it – and come up with ideas and hope that you get to develop them. All through the autumn I was pitching various ideas back and forth to my wonderful editor, Michael Stevens – and round about Christmas time I ended up being commissioned to write the whole run of stories for ‘Hornets’ Nest.’

For me, Doctor Who audio begins with Tom Baker. I bought the cassette of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ soundtrack from the Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition, the first time I went. And, later, 'The Pescatons' on vinyl! I hope these new audio stories can evoke some of that excitement. With that voice of his, Tom is THE perfect audio Doctor, of course.

I’m still in a blissful haze about it all. Writing was about five months of very intensive work, getting those audio scripts perfect. It’s a very long project – between five and six hours, in all. Then, eventually, in June, I went to London for a few days of the earliest recording sessions. Suddenly, when Tom breezed in, beaming, it all became very real. I’d bought jelly babies from a shop in Covent Garden as a welcome back present for him. He passed them around, grinning and started to rehearse and it was all just perfect. Hilarious, nerve-wracking, brilliant… and the stories started to come to life… creepy and surreal…

Are there any other familiar characters from the Doctor Who universe we can expect to hear from in Doctor Who: Hornets Nest?

The series kicks off with Mike Yates replying to a strange advert in classified ads page. It’s an advert that seems addressed to him personally. It directs him to a reunion in Sussex with a friend he hasn’t seen since his UNIT days, back in the Seventies. Mike Yates is a marvelous character because we know he’s had problems and complications in his life. He’s got demons of his own, still to conquer, has Mike.

Apart from those two main characters, everyone and everything is newly created for this run of stories.

How did the project come about?

I believe Tom requested some new audio stories for his Doctor. He loved doing the Target readings. When I listened to them, I took special note of the tiny moment of improvisation at the start of ‘The Brain of Morbius’ (‘ME’!) So I had an inkling he wanted to do more, and to do new stuff. They were going to do talking books of new stories, linked in a series. I think Michael and Tom between them developed the first glimmerings of the menace the Doctor would face, and the general set-up.

When I was commissioned and in place as writer things took on a life of their own. The whole thing got bigger and very ambitious. It became a full cast drama, and wonderfully intricate… and, I think, very original. There’s never quite been a Who series like it. How long did it take you to write the story?

I’d say five months, altogether. With about the same beforehand, drafting outlines and tinkering.

We know you are responsible for the creation of a much-loved character from the extended universe of Doctor Who; Iris Wildthyme – Do you have any more adventures planned for her?

Big Finish release the Christmas Special : ‘The Claws of Santa’ in December. And Obverse books will be releasing at about the same time, their second hardback anthology of Iris short fiction, ‘The Panda Book of Horror&’, edited by me and Stuart Douglas – again, like ‘The Celestial Omnibus’, featuring some wonderful Iris tales by brilliant authors. Have a look at

The best way of keeping up with what I’m doing – publications and readings, appearances and workshops, etc – is by looking at my new website and blog –

Many thanks! Hope you all enjoy ‘Doctor Who: Hornets’ Nest

** If you would like to ask a Question to Paul Magrs, visit the DWO Forums.

© Copyright; Doctor Who Online, 2009.
Page Updated: 29/7/2009

Interview Details

Interview with:
Paul Magrs


Conducted by:
Doctor Who Online



Discuss this Interview!

Doctor Who is © Copyright to the BBC. No infringement intended.