Neil Gaiman Would Be Showrunner for Doctor Who, if Asked!
I interviewed Neil Gaiman for Triple J Magazine recently, and asked him about Doctor Who. My editors said the Who stuff wasn’t relevant to the interview, but I think it’s VERY relevant for Doctor Who fans. So here it is!
Paul: …But what about television, which you write for?
Neil: Well… it’s harder. And sometimes, you fail. Sometimes, I overwrite, and sometimes I underwrite. I’m also now aware that while I might describe something, the set designer may have other ideas. I mean, there’s a sequence in my upcoming Doctor Who episode where I wrote… a bunch of stuff, and then got a message from them saying, we can’t actually even find the location we’re looking for, but we can give you this instead.
Paul: It wasn’t a quarry, was it?
Neil: No! Though I did get to use a quarry in The Doctor’s Wife! Which made me so happy. I got a quarry, and I got running down corridors. I felt like, look! A proper Doctor Who episode! The new one? No corridor running. No quarry. But, there’s lots of strange locations, and I got to rewrite the sequence to take into account the new location. With TV, if it works, it’s like a game of ping pong. And occasionally, you do get really sad. And the hardest thing with Who is writing a script - a great one, with lots of funny moments, great lines - and they’ll give you back a forty three minute cut. And now, your job - because everything is brutally trimmed down and some scenes don’t even exist anymore - is to work out the dialogue that gives it a throughline. It’s like a kind of mad chess game, really.
Paul: If something, god forbid, made Moffat leave as showrunner, would you step up?
Neil: Well… the tragedy is that ten years ago, before Russel T. Davies brought it back, I was trying to get all the people at the BBC circa 2001, just to say, what are you doing with this show? Can I bring it back? And I never actually got a call returned. I sort of got bounced around, and it died, then Russell did it. And I love that he did, because he did it better than I ever could! I… these days, I don’t have the mad drive that I had ten years ago. I like hanging around with my wife! I like having this peculiar lifestyle! I have watched Stephen Moffat for five years now, helming Who and Sherlock, but there was a point where he’d go off on family holidays and spend the whole time indoors, working. I was the same on Sandman! Every month, artists, writers, inkers, readers, all riding on my back. My family would be on the beach and I’d have the curtains drawn. I’ve done that! Now, I love coming in and writing one episode once in a while. And people I know think I’m mad for even doing it, because the amount an episode costs me… I lose a ridiculous amount of money for the time it takes! But I don’t care, I love it! I get to write Doctor Who! But if Stephen showed up and asked me, I’d say yes. Because it’s an addiction for me.
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