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Media Essays: Imagining Other Writers Writing Doctor Who (ft. Wandering Traveller)

It's a big time to be a Doctor Who fan, isn't it? We're fresh off of the BBC Centenary Special last month which saw Jodie Whittaker's Doctor regenerate, we're gearing up for the return of Russell T. Davies as showrunner in 2023 which will then give us Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary special, well actually four specials, David Tennant's back as the 14th Doctor (yes 14th, not 10th) and we'll be seeing the debut of the 15th Doctor with Ncuti Gatwa in the role! So yeah, big time indeed!

This month will see the 59th anniversary of Doctor Who so to celebrate the occasion, I'll be doing a few Doctor Who related blog posts for this month. This is one I'll be doing with a friend of mine. He is also a big Whovian and holds a lot of love for the show. So if you please everyone, let's welcome my co-op partner for this post who has chosen to go by the name the Wandering Traveller.

WT: Um, hello? Sorry, I’m not the most sociable of people, but I am thankful to be here, it’s a nice thing to do with Mister Media Man, he’s been a good friend of mine. And what better opportunity to have to do a co-op blog post with him than Doctor Who?

I can say that I’ve been a big fan of Doctor Who since it returned in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston taking on the role, since then I’ve collected toys, DVDs, comics and audios of the series! I do hope the 60th anniversary delivers given we’ve got David Tennant, Cathrine Tate, and Bernard Cribbins returning, but I hope it’s not all about them, I hope we get Paul McGann and Matt Smith back for the 60th, give them a return that will please us all :)

If there’s something that’s kept Doctor Who going these years, it’s not just fans who made sure to keep the series going, but the writers, how each era they brought their own take on the show and the history that grew with it. You had the gothic horror esque Fourth Doctor, the cosmic adventurer Fifth Doctor, the grounded Ninth and Tenth Doctors, and the fairytale esque Eleventh Doctor. But it’s not just limited to the tv screen, for the audios have showcased the talents of the very Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs as a writer, having written some amazing work for the audios, that’d be dark or fun!

Chris Chibnall, while we do have our gripes with him, was a bit more bold in his choices in deciding to cast the first female Doctor in Jodie Whittaker, and certainly gave us this cosmic based adventurer. But if there’s something we do wonder, we’ve wondered what other writers in other media would be able to do with Doctor Who :)

Media Man: Aye. That topic has been quite an interesting thing to ponder. What would it be like to imagine certain other writers writing for Doctor Who? For this essay, we'll be picking six writers, three each, and discussing what works they're known for and how we think their styles of writing would be suited for Doctor Who.

So without further ado let's dive in. I'll let the Wandering Traveller start off with his first choice.

WT: Thanks my mate :)

My first choice would be comic book writer Peter Tomasi. For those of you that do not know Peter, he was the big writer of Superman and Super Sons during Rebirth. It was thanks to him that I grew to love Superman as a character and I grew to like Damian Wayne! Superman caught my interest with Man of Steel, and the Rebirth comics coming out three years later caught my eye, what with it being about Superman married to Lois and having a son with her, Jon. The journey Jon taken under his mother and father was a really emotional one that combined emotion, love, fun, action, and family in one.

If Peter Tomasi were to write a Doctor Who story, I imagine he’d write a Tenth Doctor one, given how closely attached he was to family themes. I imagine he’d tell a story of the Tenth Doctor visiting a planet of lizard and Dino type creatures after getting a distress call, meeting a father and son who landed on the planet after taking a trip to it. The TARDIS could be lost, forcing the Doctor to use the devices he’s got to stay alive, all the while he grows a strong friendship with the father and son, who become a big focus of the story. I can imagine this affecting the Tenth Doctor on such a personal level given the tragedy he had gone through in losing his daughter Jenny. I imagine a moment where the father seemingly dies and the Doctor promises to look after the son of the man, until it’s revealed he’s alive.

I can imagine Peter using a this kind of setting to really go in with the alien theme, his stories in the comics having a fun golden age type feel to them in terms of what he’d use as enemies, he made a world full of clay as a villain to Jon and Damian! this is telling us a new take on his Superman story where Jon, Superman and Krypto got trapped on a mysterious island of dinosaurs, the Doctor giving us his own parental experience in looking after the boy. For a villain, I imagine he’d make a really cool animal like villain, one who’s gained human level intellect and is intending to use the father and son as his templates to increase the intelligence of the creatures on the planet. Knowing Peter, he’d give us a happy ending, the Doctor destroying the device the creature is using, rescues the father and son, and is invited to a get together. The Tenth Doctor had a lot of sad endings to his time, it’d be nice to see Peter give us a happy ending.

I imagine a story like this would be one families could enjoy, because it’s a story of how in tough times, family stocks together, and the Doctor seeing this and how it touches him is one thing to help us connect with his character.

Would you agree?

Media Man: Most definitely. As someone who also has read Peter Tomasi's run on the Superman Rebirth comics, his writing style would suit Doctor Who and give it a very heartfelt, emotional tone with family themes that we haven't really had since the first RTD era from 2005-2010. Like you, I would love to see this guy tackle Doctor Who and I think he'd do just fine.

For my first entry, I'll be choosing famed Alex Rider, The Power of Five and Diamond Brothers author, Anthony Horowitz. He is one of the UK's most popular authors and has gained much acclaim for the series I mentioned with Alex Rider especially consistently ranking as among his most popular books. Hell, the series has been adapted into an Amazon Prime exclusive series that has two seasons and is working on a third right now!

So when it comes to imagining this guy as a writer for Doctor Who, I don't think that'll be too much of his comfort zone. Anthony Horowitz prominently writes for the mystery, spy-fiction and horror genres and I think he can weave all of that into Doctor Who. Alex Rider especially has some sci-fi elements with the fictional technology often used in the books and one of the books even sees Alex go into outer space so it's not like Anthony's not dabbled in sci-fi even a little already. Even when he uses fictional science like for some of the villain's plans in the series, he bases it on and brings in a bit of real science too so I think he could give us a Doctor Who plot that has some semi-believable science to it. As a writer for horror stories, I can see Anthony bringing some of that to his Doctor Who, like his Doctor Who episodes might delve more into sci-fi horror than general sci-fi as we see in episodes like The Haunting of Vila Diodati, The Vampires of Venice and more.

I can also see Anthony's Doctor Who playing around with the spy-fiction and mystery genres. I can see him writing some episodes that could be mystery stories like what he writes for The Diamond Brothers and I can also see him writing episodes more akin to Spyfall from the Chibnall era or the Third Doctor's era in where he was more earthbound and limited to what he could do with UNIT at the time. I can also see his take on Doctor Who being a little more cynical in nature as his writing prose often contains a somewhat cynical edge to it with his descriptions or what the characters think about in their inner thoughts. So as a result, his take on Doctor Who could be one of the darker eras of the show like the more violent half of the Sixth Doctor's tenure or the more creepy and horror side of the Stephen Moffat era. I can also see him mostly writing historical episodes. He has dabbled in history before with one such book titled The Devil and his Boy being set in the Elizabethan era and featuring actual historical figures like Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee, Gamailel Ratsey and Moll Cutpurse. As a writer who emphasizes research above all else, he could easily come up with some cool historical episodes.

For which Doctor suits him best? I'd probably say the Third Doctor or Ninth Doctors might as they were more grounded and the Third Doctor especially had a long period where he was stuck on Earth and couldn't time travel. He's not the most wacky and out there kind of writer so these Doctors would suit his more down-to-earth style of writing. For the villains? I can imagine his villains would mostly be humans but he might also create some monstrous creatures that would call back to his horror-related works. I can also see him drawing inspiration from real-world figures like when he created some of Alex Rider's enemies.

So overall, I think Horowitz would make for an interesting addition to a Doctor Who writing table. Whether he'd be up for it or not, who knows? But it's interesting to ponder. ^^

WT: It’s interesting to imagine what he could do and which one he’d go for :)

But regarding dark horror, that’s where I bring in the Queen of The Owl House, Dana Terrace. Dana is the showrunner of that series and its creator, her world and characters are both alive, emotional and very wonderful as characters, she makes you love them, creates her own takes on mythological creatures, mixes horror, comedy and emotions well into one. The Owl House has one of the darkest subplots I’ve seen in a children’s cartoon with the story of Caleb Wittebane, him being resurrected constantly and murdered by his younger bro Philip.

That brings me to many ideas I imagine what Dana could do. I can imagine her writing a really scary Doctor Who story, that’d be creating her own monsters for the show. What I liked to have seen in The Owl House was that scrapped scene of Luz being chased by a scary puppet version of herself. Seriously, I think Dana could combine a haunted house story with that of a puppet family who are recreating themselves by kidnapping humans. It’d make for a intense story, and make for the best kind of visuals we’d get in a Doctor Who episode. That or she can do her own twist on the very Owl House, in that a haunted house comes alive and consumes the essence of those that go inside. Or if she could, she’d do a mental horror story that delves into both comedy and horror in that we go inside a person’s mind, finding the oddities that are inside. Dana does deliver on emotions as well so that’d be one way to do it. In terms of what monsters she could make, aside from the puppets, I can see her making a scarier version of Hooty, or make her own twist on a mythological creature, like a Banshee, that’d be scary but fun to see in the show :)

Dana is great with emotions and that can lead well to a story of maybe how a alien with special mental abilities tries coping with his or hers new powers, with the Doctor stepping in to be that light for the individual.

Regarding what Doctor would be best suited for Dana, I imagine she’d go for the likes of the Sixth, Eleventh and Thirteenth Doctors. The Sixth Doctor I imagine she’d have fun writing for, given his ego was huge and he had a strong sense of righteous that I think ties well with Eda. The Eleventh Doctor being a goofball and in a fantasy like setting could be really done well by her. The Thirteenth Doctor I think Dana could have fun experimenting with, making her a morally righteous person who has a sense of awe ness to her you just end up adoring. The dialogue she’d write for these characters would be brilliant :)

Media Man: I can also imagine her take on Doctor Who including more LGBT themes like what Russell T. Davies would try and get away with back in his first time as showrunner. And like Russell, I know for a fact she won’t let anyone tell her no! XD

Still, I agree with my buddy here. Dana Terrace would make for one interesting writer to recruit for Doctor Who and I think she’d give us something really special with it.

Now for my second choice, I’m going to pick Paul Dini of DC fame. You all know who he is, the famed writer of Batman: The Animated Series, the first two Batman: Arkham Games and of course, the man who gave us Harley Quinn. So what do I think he’d do for Doctor Who if he was a writer? That’s going to be an interesting one to ponder over. Paul’s writing can either be really dark like in the Arkham Games or really wacky like with Mxyzptlk’s debut episode in Superman: The Animated Series. So what would he do for Doctor Who? Would he write a dark Doctor Who story or a funny one? Or even a bit of both like he’d do in some of his works for the DC Animated Universe? I can see him doing a bit of both honestly. As a writer for the superhero genre, Paul will have dabbled a little in sci-fi as superhero works often feature A LOT of science fiction so I wouldn’t think Doctor Who’s out of his comfort zone. I mean the DC Universe even has time travel as an established fact so he can already go with that. XD Also with him having written Justice League’s very touching Christmas special, it’s possible that Paul could even write a heartfelt Doctor Who story if he wanted to. I think he’d be better suited to stories set on alien worlds or crime-based stories in terms of what he’d write for the show.

For which Doctor suits him best, I’d probably say the Ninth Doctor as his darker more brooding personality would be something like whenever he writes for Batman in his stories. I can see Paul really delving into the Ninth Doctor’s psyche and what makes him the more darker figure he is in the Doctor’s many lives. And I’d probably say the Tenth Doctor might suit him as well? The Tenth Doctor has his moments of being deathly serious or really bubbly and funny and I can see Paul giving him a lot of funny, quirky dialogue that he often gives his characters.

For what kinds of villains he’d create, I imagine Paul would go in the more fantastical sense rather than using human villains. As a prominent writer for Batman, he’s naturally had a lot of experience with Batman’s very large and colourful Rogues Gallery in where many of them are often larger than life and quite the bunch of villains. They’d either be humans who are given some kind of power or horrifying monsters and I can definitely see his Doctor Who villains often having a very tragic past to them, which would also tie into his Batman work and how his most popular creation, Harley Quinn, is also a tragic figure in his works.

I’d say Paul Dini’s a bit of a harder one to put a pin on than our other choices but I do believe if he was given the job for Doctor Who, he’d probably turn out something unique and interesting to watch. :)

WT: Paul is a interesting kind of writer to imagine for Doctor Who. I think he can make a very knot inducing story that has you look deep into the characters and the villains who the Doctor is to take on :)

For my final suggestion, it’s Aaron Ehasz. Aaron was key to Avatar the Last Airbender’s success having written huge numbers of episodes for that series, but has made his own show The Dragon Prince, which had its own story of characters, monsters and magic. His biggest strengths is drawing on mythologies and character building, given we saw how well he helped write Avatar’s characters including the growing characters of Rayla, Callum, Ezran, Soren and many others.

Given Aaron has served two series that are somewhat set in a past time period, Dragon Prince’s setting alike to the Middle Ages, I can imagine him doing historical episodes and do his own take on certain mythologies. He can make a story about a unicorn in Doctor Who that could work amazingly if done well, or even tackle the Irish lore of fairies, give us a bit of magic in the universe of the series. Given how much the elves and dragons are inspired by European mythology in Dragon Prince, I imagine he’d do well at making a story of the fairies or dragon like creatures for the Doctor to face. Not only that but he’d make for really endearing characters, especially if you had one like Rayla who began to let go of her prejudice towards humans thanks to falling in love with Callum and becoming friends with Ezran, or a character who discovers their own strength with Callum or Sokka. He’d write a really wonderful female character for the Doctor to bounce off of.

In terms of what Doctor he’d be best suited with, I will say it’s the Eighth, Tenth and Thirteenth Doctors. The Eighth Doctor was a very compassionate Doctor that had one big snarky mouth on him that would make well for a character seeking to bring peace with both his love and his snark. The Tenth Doctor because he can be so manically written and get to have him be angry with those who don’t understand. The Thirteenth Doctor to really show just how morally superior she is though is easily challenged :)

Media Man: Most definitely. I can imagine Aaron really giving us something interesting, deep, thoughtful, funny and heartfelt if he ever wrote for Doctor Who.

And now for my final choice, I'm going with Mark Walden, the author of the H.I.V.E. and Earthfall series of books.

Mark Walden isn't as well-known compared to other British authors so I imagine many of you reading this won't really know who he is. The most I'll say is that his H.I.V.E. series are great books to read and I'd love to see a film or TV series made of them one day. Anyway, what do I think Mark Walden could bring to Doctor Who if he was a writer for the show? First of all, he is a sci-fi fan, even saying he's a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, and his H.I.V.E. novels are very sci-fi in nature with a lot of sci-fi tropes on full display in the books. Many of the technology, vehicles and even some of the locations are something that could only exist in science fiction so he already has experience in that genre of fiction. I can see him bringing some of his H.I.V.E. creativity to the table for Doctor Who. As for his story-telling, Mark Walden is the kind of writer who relies heavily on story-arcs and the H.I.V.E. series is no exception to this. The series has a lot of attention to detail and is very plot heavy to the point where you can't miss a single book, you need to read them all as even missing one book can leave out a lot of important details. I can see his take on Doctor Who being like that where nearly every episode of his is full of story, has strong attention to continuity and a lot of plot points that might seem irrelevant at first but become more important later on. I think his take on Doctor Who would be one of the more plot-heavy seasons the show could get.

His Earthfall series also has a post-apocalyptic setting so I imagine that if he wanted, he could possibly do a Doctor Who episode with a post-apocalyptic setting. Earthfall is also very sci-fi in nature with actual aliens called the Voidborn that are responsible for the Earth's end so this guy has even created his own aliens before. If he wrote for Doctor Who, I imagine he'd either create an alien similar to the Voidborn or create something entirely new for the show. I even imagine he'd probably be able to come up with some cool new takes on classic Doctor Who enemies like the Daleks or the Cybermen. And going back to H.I.V.E. for a moment, I can also see Mark Walden's Doctor Who stories having a lot of quippy dialogue in them. The H.I.V.E. series is noteworthy for being full of snappy lines and funny dialogue from the characters and the series even pokes fun at some of its own tropes and cliches so I imagine Mark would bring that over to Doctor Who and really add some good humour to the series.

For which Doctor he'd be best suited to? That's a tough one. I'd probably say the Fourth and Tenth Doctors as he has experience in writing eccentrically intelligent characters or intelligent characters with a snarky side to them with his two book series but even then, that's only an estimate.

Regardless, I do think a writer as clearly intelligent as Mark could truly give us a great Doctor Who season and with previous experience in writing sci-fi under his belt, he could fit right into the show's style I think.

WT: I guess that’s that, my mates! If you enjoyed this discussion, tell us who you think could be a writer for Doctor Who?

As for me, I’ll be wandering about….although I could be returning very soon with ANOTHER Doctor Who blog topic. Yeah, Media Man?

Media Man: Oh yes. Sometime soon, we’ll talking about Unmade Doctor Who Episodes. That I’m sure will be an interesting topic. :)

In the meantime, I hope you all enjoyed this speculative essay on what we think these writers could do with Doctor Who and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Do you agree with our choices? Do you have your own ideas? Feel free to tell.

Special thanks goes to my friend for joining me for this post and offering some very interesting choices for the essay. Thanks for joining me Wandering Traveller and I wish you luck on your travels. ^^

WT: You too. ^^

Media Man: And that’s it for this post. Next week I’ll be keeping to the theme of Doctor Who by talking about my 10 Favourite Dalek Designs. See you then everyone. ^^

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