The Writer's Tale


  Format:   Book
  Written by:   Russell T. Davies & Benjamin Cook
  Publisher:   BBC / Random House
  ISBN:   978-1-846-07571-1
  Product Release Date:   25/9/2008
  RRP:   £29.99
  Reviewed by:   Doctor Who Online
A unique look into the BBC’s most popular family drama, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale is a year in the life of the hit television series, as told by the show’s Head Writer and Executive Producer. A candid and in-depth correspondence between Russell T Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook, the book explores in detail Russell's work on Series Four, revealing how he plans the series and works with the show's writers; where he gets his ideas for plot, character and scene; how actors are cast and other creative decisions are made; and how he juggles the demands of Doctor Who with the increasingly successful Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures spin-offs.

Russell’s scripts are discussed as they develop, and Russell and Ben’s wide-ranging discussions bring in experiences from previous series of Doctor Who as well as other shows Russell has written and created, including Queer As Folk, Bob & Rose, and The Second Coming. The reader is given total access to the show as it’s created, and the writing is everything you would expect from Russell T Davies: warm, witty, insightful, and honest.

Fully illustrated with never-before-seen photos and artwork – including original drawings by Russell himself – The Writer's Tale is not only the ultimate Doctor Who book, but a celebration of great writing and great television.


  Submitted:   9/10/2008
  Reviewer:   Doctor Who Online

The Writer's Tale heralds a detailed, frank and insightful look at a year in the life of the making of Doctor Who. It follows the correspondence between Doctor Who Head Writer and Executive Producer Russell T. Davies, and journalist Benjamin Cook, as they exchange emails, text messages and script extracts.

There are fifteen chapters in total, all of which deliver page after page of banter that's just as exciting and suspenseful as the show itself. At 500+ pages you would expect it to be a heavy read, but on the contrary you feel like you could go on reading another 500 with ease - which is partly down to the uniquely refreshing style in which the book itself is written.

In it, Davies is extremely candid about his workload, and expresses in considerable detail the highs and lows of pulling Series Four of the show together. In interviews and behind-the-scenes programmes, Davies always comes across as quite confident, but off-screen, in this book, we see a side to him that doubts and questions – and this is no bad thing! Something that has been an annoyance to read in online articles and some internet forums, is how Davies has ‘yes men’ - if anything, The Writer’s Tale proves the opposite. Here we have a man of considerable power in the UK Television Industry, allowing the world to see his every move over the course of a year, with a respected journalist questioning, challenging and motivating him – a brave and generous move that will surely silence any doubters.

Cook’s fearless and intelligent approach to asking questions, pave the way for some fantastic responses as he manages to temper Davies fun, energetic and sometimes insecure narrative with good solid and sometimes cheeky responses. Anyone who reads Cook's articles and interviews in Doctor Who Magazine will know how his journalistic style lends itself to some truly great reading.

It was a genuine delight to watch the friendship between the two develop over the course of the book, and how Davies’ trust for Cook grows to the point that he even persuades him to change the ending of Series Four! There are other little nuggets of information that will have fellow fans salivating too - like the name of the companion that would have been if Catherine (Tate) hadn't said yes. The alternative title for Voyage of the Damned, plus confirmation of the 2008 Christmas Special title. There will be no spoiling in this review though, just take it as one more reason to go out and get this book - (as if you need one).

Some of Davies’ own drawings have even made it into the book, and needless to say, writing isn’t the only avenue he excels in – The Captain Jack Harkness sketch on page 339 is terrific!

This is a book that will not only deliver as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a television series, but as a dialogue that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, and in doing so, prove to be as timeless as Doctor Who itself.

© Copyright Doctor Who Online, 2008.

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Submitted: 9/10/2008




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