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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Matthew Graham: Fear Her, the Rebel Flesh/the Almost People and Future Writing

Hello again. Matthew Graham, the writer of the Rebel Flesh and the Almost People, was interviewed recently by Den of Geek about his next few episodes, Fear Her and some other subjects. The link to read the whole interview is at the bottom of the page.

When asked about how he came to write for Doctor Who Series Six:
Well, I was hoping to do the last series, the first Matt Smith series. I had a very nice lunch with Piers [Wenger, executive producer] and Steven [Moffat] and we talked about ideas and had this storyline for a single. And we were quite excited about it, but I was whizzing backwards and forward to America a lot at that time, and I was also gearing up on the last series of Ashes To Ashes, which I knew needed all hands to the pumps.
So, I just panicked and thought I wouldn't have enough time. So, I contacted Steven and said I've got to bow out, regretfully. And then after the series went out, I got an e-mail from Steven, a typical Steven e-mail in capital letters, that read "thanks for abandoning me to do the series on my own. So what about series 2?" I couldn't say no, really!
When asked about the connection between Fear Her and The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People:
It's brand new. It's totally brand new. I've just watched them, actually, and I think they are absolutely fab. I think they're some of the best writing that I've ever done. And it's brilliantly directed, and brilliantly made. And I just hope everyone likes it.
I really hope that those who maybe thought that Fear Her was too childish and too silly, I'm hoping that that will silence them. This is my response!
When asked about Fear Her:
I'm actually thrilled with it. It's not what I'd have chosen if I'd come to Doctor Who, obviously. When you come to Doctor Who, you want to tell a story with monsters. You want spaceships. You want the Tardis in mortal peril. You want big, epic science fiction adventure. Of course, you do. That's why you write it.
But I was just so thrilled to be asked to write it, even when Russell [T Davies] said, "Look, it's going to be a more inexpensive episode, and it has to take place on a housing estate," I still said, "Fine."
I wanted to write for David Tennant, for Billie Piper, and be part of TV history. So, I said, "Absolutely." I was thrilled with it.
What we had set out to do right from the start with Fear Her was tell a story that was aimed very much at children. For children, not really for adults, not really for the older Doctor Who fans.
It was aimed at the kids, because Army Of Ghosts and Doomsday were coming up, and they were going to be very big, very dark and very traumatic. And Russell wanted a playground adventure. He said, "How old is your son?" At the time he was seven. So, he said, "Write this one for your son." That's what I did. I did something that was in primary colours, that had a scary voice in the cupboard. I always say that other people got cybermen, I got two blokes with a red lamp rattling a wardrobe!
But, to be honest with you, I didn't go online particularly and read the responses. From my side of it, the response was brilliant. I had loads of kids write to me and say how much they enjoyed it. And it was only later I realised that the older fans had reacted badly to it. So, I went, "Well, it's a shame that they have, but it wasn't meant for them."
The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People are different. As far as I'm concerned, this is proper, across the board Who. Adults, kids- if they can watch it, because it is scary. I showed it to my wife the other night, and there were a couple of images in it where she went, "Actually, that's quite scary. That's not very pleasant." And I notice that it's going out a bit later. I wouldn't be surprised if they put a warning out beforehand.
I was happy with Fear Her, but when I came back I did say, rather selfishly, "I want epic, I want monsters! And science fiction, and gadgets, and lots of stuff happening." And they gave it to me!
When asked about the Flesh:
The Flesh? Well, all the stories in Doctor Who start with a basic idea from Steven. And I went and spent a day with him in his kitchen, and he said, "I want to do something about avatars." And I said, "Oh, Steven, are you sure?" I mean, the film was still playing at the time in cinemas. And he said, "No, no, no, this will be good. This will be like The Thing."
So, it's workers that create copies of themselves to do jobs that are too dangerous, too unpleasant. And he said, "I don't know how, but somehow, these things take on a life of their own." And I thought, "Okay, that's better," and then we started talking.
He planned to set it in a factory and I had it in my head that I wanted to do something in a monastery with a The Name Of The Rose feel to it.
When asked about any ongoing narrative bits:
Yes, yes I have. But I've got two cliffhangers, which is not bad for a two-parter. I've got my part one cliffhanger, and I've got a part two cliffhanger that leads into Steven's A Good Man Goes To War.
I can say this because the premise of this final scene was given to me. I wrote [the cliffhanger scene] and I put my own dialogue in. [Steven] said, "This is what's got to happen," and it was just great. Just whoa! People are not going to be able to wait until next Saturday!
When asked about the episode cliffhangers:
I wrote the script, I said, "I'm finished," and then Steven said, "Now I know exactly what I'm doing with episode seven. I need you to do something like this." And he explained what he wanted it to include and I loved it.
I've said it before, I think, that it's like being the writer and the viewer at the same time. And you're also going, "Wow, what's going to happen next?"
What I find about cliffhangers is that there's the easy cliffhanger, which is to put the Doctor in jeopardy. And everyone knows that the next week he's not going to be dead. They used to do that in the old days as well. I tried to make my cliffhanger something that is just a ratcheting up of the story. So, at the end of The Rebel Flesh, you're not thinking, "Is the Doctor going to die?" You're thinking, "Oh, my God. What's going to happen now?"
Finally, when asked about writing future episodes:
I haven't, no. I said to Beth at the read through that if I can do any more I'd love to, and she said, "Oh, yeah. That'd be great."
But I didn't push it then, because I know they've still got their heads still full of this series. But I floated it out there, that I'd happily come back.
They seem very, very pleased with the episode, so I hope that they'd consider asking me back.
To read the whole interview, follow the link below:

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