Christopher H Bidmead...

... was Doctor Who's script editor between 1980 and 1981, handling the final year of Tom Baker's tenure. Don't worry - he's still alive. It's just that I've interviewed him for the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, hot on the shelves today.

I haven't written for Doctor Who Magazine in the last nine months or thereabouts, because of the need to concentrate on establishing my screenwriting career. Which is a shame, because I love DWM work. So it was a real delight to be able to accept the Bidmead assignment. Season 18, which he presided over, was a really unique gem, and I knew in advance that he was an interesting, outspoken character. Still, the interview he gave surpassed even my expectations. He's a man patently unafraid to offer his straight opinion on any era of Who, including Russell T Davies'. I absolutely loved visiting his home in North London and having a right old healthy debate with this fascinating man who helped shape my childhood Who experience. Didn't agree with half of the stuff he said, but that was part of the fun, because he didn't mind me telling him so.

If people are ever interested in my journalistic endeavours, they'll generally ask for my favourite interviewees - so it's nice to have a recent job to add to the list. Hooray! The DWM feature also includes a comic strip which Bidmead himself designed, featuring the two of us. Yes, I know. Utterly mental.

Naturally, there's loads of fine stuff elsewhere in the issue, including a set report from the imminent Easter Special Planet Of The Dead (screening on BBC One on April 11), an interview with POTD's guest star Michelle Ryan, a review of the latest Attack Of The Cybermen DVD, a Fact Of Fiction feature on Castrovalva (a 1981 story written by Bidmead, funnily enough), and the chance to win a pile of Who DVD boxsets. Get in!

PS Two Splendid sketches were filmed on Tuesday by the unstoppable Dan Turner, Johnny Caution and crew. Two of the blighters, if you please! One written by me, the other by Sarah Morgan. Tremendous.

PPS Went for a drink with TV's James Moran, on that very same night. Here's a little-known fact for Moran fans: when he's out drinking of an evening, he wears a rather tall top-hat (about four-feet from brim to peak). Every once in a while, he takes it off, inverts it and vomits into it, in order to make room for more booze. I've literally never seen the like in all my born days.


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0tralala said...

Just read the interview; what an absolute corker. Well done, old bean.

Stephen Gallagher said...

Glad to hear that Chris is well. He was my first TV script editor! Until my first Who I'd been working in radio. The gig was somewhat chaotic - not because of Chris, let me say, he being the most steadying hand throughout - and I wondered in dismay if all of TV was going to be like this.

For a while I moaned that I'd been badly done-to. But I've had worse since!

I believe Chris features on the Warriors' Gate DVD commentary. I don't, but only because I was unavailable on the dates. I recorded some extra material when I did the Terminus interviews and I believe they planned to use some footage from that.

Since I hate to watch or listen to myself, I'll never get to see. But if the extras consist of everyone saying what an unappreciative twat I am, I wouldn't blame them or be surprised.

Michael said...

Great interview, Jason. CHB (how he'd hate that abbreviation - no room for *any* of his names!) gives full value, and you present the whole thing really well. Best DWM interview in ages.

John Harrison said...

Well well. I do like a man of strong opinions but who respects the rights of others to disagree.
And James Moran. What a guy. I once saw a girl vomit into her St.Patricks Day shamrock emblazoned hat and found it somehow rather charming. But I like the regularity and forward planning that the Moran hat plan shows.

Lee said...

I will not tweet you, sir, for that sounds somewhat illicit. I will leave a comment on your blog, instead, as folk of yore were wont to do.

That was a bloody good interview, especially the bit about the sonic screwdriver, which really hit the nail on the head. Which is entirely the wrong job for a screwdriver, of course; you want a sonic hammer for that.


Paul McIntyre said...

Excellent interview Jason, a really great read. His era of Doctor Who seemed really vivid to me when I was younger, and it does stand up well in some places - not in the characterisation of the companions though - that remains quite naff compared to what we get today.

Good work sir.

martin said...

Loved the Bidmead interview - more bonkers than a plan to flush the Master out of the TARDIS by materialising it under the Thames!

Jason Arnopp said...

Thanks so much, folks - really glad you enjoyed. And apologies for the delay on your comments showing up! A case of Blogger settings bamboozling me.

Piers said...

A fine interview, sir.

And I must demand - demand I say - more of the comic-book adventures of Jason and Christopher.

John Soanes said...

And I see your Being Human review in the spanking new issue of Word, too. Very good wordwork, I say!

Al Paige said...

Fascinated to read your interview with Bidmead, whose outrageous assertions about his superior talent continue undiluted with the passing years.

I was staggered but not surprised to read that Bidmead doesn't like Russell Davies' writing nor the current version of Doctor Who.

But frankly, for Bidmead to characterise Davies' scripts as "first draft" and to suggest that his own scripts were more polished is outrageous in light of the FACTS - ie his abysmal credited stories that actually went to air!

As a script writer yourself, Jason, you're surely aware of the hideous deficiencies in stories like Logopolis and Castrovalva. But for the record, here are some questions I would like to ask Bidmead:

1. How does the Master know the Doctor plans to materialise around a police box in Logopolis?

2. What is the Doctor's explanation for this, "He's a Time Lord - in many ways we have the same mind?" if not a first-draft piece of sleight of hand to distract the viewer from the fact that Bidmead has NO viable explanation to offer for the above question?

3. Why does the Doctor have to measure a police box, on earth, in every dimension? As the Tardis is in the shape of a real police box, why can't he simply measure the Tardis? (ie there is no reason for him to travel to earth at all)

4. The Master is hiding in the Tardis so the Doctor wants to flush him out by materialising underwater. Why is he unworried about risking Adric's death by drowning? Why is he unworried about flooding the Tardis interior?

5. If the Master plans to hold the universe to ransom, why doesn't he simply RECONNECT THE CABLE once the Doctor has disconnected it and fallen to his death?

6. In Castrovalva, at what point did the Master kidnap Adric? (Neither of the two possibilities offered in the script make sense within the context of surrounding events)

7. If Adric is under the Master's control, how does he appear in the mirror in Castrovalva?

8. Why does the Master disguise himself as the Portreeve?

9. Why is the Master so foolish as to create a library of books that chronicle the rise of Castrovalva to the present day yet look thousands of years old? Is he planting a deliberate clue???!!

and on and on and on ... seriously, if Bidmead really spent time polishing and tinkering with these scripts and STILL couldn't notice these inconsistencies and illogicalities, let alone be bothered to fix them, what does it say about his skills as a writer?

Give me Russell Davies' "first draft" scripts any day, Mr Bidmead ...