Hello everyone! 🙂
Welcome to ‘Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ – Part One’.
This trilogy of blog posts focuses on the behind-the-scenes making of the first trilogy of stories featuring the Fifth Doctor; Nyssa and Billy in ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series. The first blog post looks into the making and writing of the first story in the series, ‘The Railway of Time’.
WARNING: If you haven’t read ‘The Railway of Time’ yet, check it out now by clicking the link. Read further on in this post and you do so at your own risk. This blog post contains SPOILERS!
It started in the summer of 2009. I was on holiday in Monmouth with my parents and I wanted to write a four-part story with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in it. I enjoyed the TV and Big Finish audio adventures with the Doctor and Nyssa so much, that I wanted to write for that specific TARDIS duo.
But what story could I write about? I was struggling for ideas, until I visited a steam railway museum on a day-trip with my parents whilst on holiday. It then occurred to me that I could do a story about steam trains and travelling through time with the Doctor and Nyssa. That day, I had my inspiration!
I formed the story-outline that became ‘The Railway of Time’ whilst on holiday in Monmouth. I did a brief synopsis and a rough plan on what the four episodes were about. It gradually developed later on, but it was a very interesting process as I was learning for myself how to tell a ‘Doctor Who’ story.
I started writing ‘The Railway of Time’ with ‘Part One’ during the autumn/winter months of 2009. I made the decision to write it as a script rather than in prose. This is because I prefer dialogue compared to writing descriptive text as it’s easier to follow the character’s speech than the exposition.
My love for railways and steam trains comes from my love of watching ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ on VHS in the 1990s when I was a kid. Although I’ve grown out of ‘Thomas’ these days, my knowledge of steam trains helped to understand where the story was growing and how to progress near the end.
I decided to set the story in 1963. This was because it was around that time that steam railways were being axed by Dr. Richard Beeching according to the BBC sitcom ‘Oh Doctor Beeching!’ Also, I wanted a familiar Earth-type setting to start the story before the story progressed into the future.
I’d seen and heard plenty of Fifth Doctor and Nyssa stories on TV and audio to help me know who the characters were. I was initially concerned that I wouldn’t find them easy to write for. But thankfully I could hear the Doctor and Nyssa’s voices in my heard as I was writing for the characters.
Also Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton deliver superb performances as their characters in the TV stories and audios. In a way, I wanted to write for Peter and Sarah as much as I wanted to write for the Doctor and Nyssa. This was in the hope ‘The Railway of Time’ would become a Big Finish audio.
For ‘The Railway of Time’, I invented the character of Billy Walker. Billy was written as a companion-type character to be with the Doctor and Nyssa in this story. But I didn’t make him a companion by the end of the story, as I initially wrote this as a one-off story and I didn’t think Billy would carry on.
Billy’s character is based on me. But I also wanted to have other influences in Billy’s character. Mainly Billy’s character is influenced by Peter Parker from ‘Spider-Man’. This accounts for Billy’s mild-manner and the fact he is a freelance photographer which is similar to Peter Parker’s character.
I also wanted Billy to act as a potential love interest for Nyssa during the story. I didn’t want the romance aspects to be instant for Nyssa as they were in ‘Circular Time: Autumn’. But I wanted to have Billy to take an interest in Nyssa and have him ask her and take her out on a date by the end.
I also created the character of Mr. Adams in the story. Mr. Adams was inspired by actor Richard Briers from ‘The Good Life’; ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ and ‘Monarch of the Glen’. It was whilst I was writing this story that I discovered how Adams’ voice sounded when I had Briers’ voice in my head.
Adams’ character is that of a typical English gentleman. He seems volatile and opinionated in his ways. But I wanted to make Adams likeable, which is why he joins the Doctor; Nyssa and Billy on their adventure. Adams wants to get back home in 1963 and return to his wife Alice, who he loves.
Richard Briers appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ in the TV story ‘Paradise Towers’. The Chief Caretaker wasn’t written for Briers, whereas Adams is written for him by me. I wish that ‘The Railway of Time’ was made into a Big Finish audio, as Briers would have enjoyed playing Adams as it suits the type of characters he plays.
As I said before, I wrote ‘Part One’ of ‘The Railway of Time’ in late 2009. I had to stop writing the story as I had to take time to study my IT degree at Cardiff University. It was after studying that I decided to continue writing the story as a reward for all the hard work that I put into my IT degree.
Before I could write the rest of ‘The Railway of Time’, I had to re-read and re-write ‘Part One’ to refresh my memory of the story. This was worthwhile as I discovered things I didn’t like about the story and re-wrote and re-worked some scenes to make them better for the story to work later on.
I wrote ‘Parts Two; Three and Four’ of the story in the summer of 2010, whilst I was watching Matt Smith’s first season as the Doctor. It was an enjoyable; happy time for me as I found the character journeys of the Doctor; Nyssa; Billy and Adams invigorating and engrossing to explore throughout.
My aim for ‘The Railway of Time’ was to write it in the style of a Graham Williams era story in the Peter Davison era of ‘Doctor Who’. I was able to do this by re-watching ‘The Stones of Blood’ from ‘The Key to Time’ series and ‘City of Death’, which is one of my favourite stories with Tom Baker in it.
Whilst I was re-watching ‘City of Death’, I worked out who the villain was. The female character of Sinclair was developed as a cover for the alien that she was inside her called Sinroth of the Macorinroth. It was a challenge to develop Sinclair’s character before she was revealed as the villain.
As you discovered Sinroth looks like Scaroth from ‘City of Death’, except she’s blue-skinned. Also Sinroth is of the Macorinroth, sister-species of the Jagoroth. Developing Sinroth’s motives as a character was a challenge, as was trying to figure out how and why she was carrying out these plans.
The creation of the Vegrons as lizard-like aliens was appealing for me. Lizards are terrifying creatures and they’re utilised well in ‘Doctor Who’. So it felt natural to have the alien foes in ‘The Railway of Time’ as lizard-like. I also wanted them to be militaristic and ferocious by wearing Nazi-like armour.
It was easy to make comparisons between the Vegrons and the Terileptils from ‘The Visitation’ in this story. It was also a challenge to avoid making the Vegrons similar to Terileptils. So I had them wear battle armour and to be feral and agile. The Vegrons would work well on audio compared to TV.
Setting the story in three time-zones was a challenge. I structured the story by having ‘Part One’ mostly set in 1963; ‘Part Two’ in 2063 and ‘Part Three’ in 2163. ‘Part Four’ is the episode where all the loose ends get tied together by having all three time zones featured in it, making it so timey-wimey.
Before I wrote the story, I planned out a flow-chart to understand where everything goes and how the characters get from 1963 to 2063 to 2163 before going back to 2063 and 1963. Adding the TARDIS from ‘Part Three’ to ‘Part Four’ was equally more challenging and made things more confusing too.
But it was an enjoyable experience, as I relished the opportunity of doing a timey-wimey story in styles by Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat. I was also inspired by Jonathan Morris who wrote some amazing timey-wimey stories in ‘The Haunting of Thomas Brewster’ and ‘The Eternal Summer’.
During the period I wrote ‘The Railway of Time’ from 2009 to 2010, I met Sarah Sutton, my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion in February 2010. Having enjoyed meeting Sarah for the first time, I was determined to complete ‘The Railway of Time’ before I could see her again at the next convention.
TO BE CONTINUED…
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on how you have written your stories, so far. It’s very interesting to see the process of how you created the stories, and how you committed yourself to continuing the writing, even through the difficulties.
I think it’s great that you did keep up the writing, and that you feel satisfied with what you have achieved so far. I would imagine writing and completing that first story, The Railway of Time, must have been really challenging but also really satisfying, especially when you felt you had got it all worked out, and knew where the story, and the characters were going.
I found it very interesting to read about the things that inspired you; not only the idea of Doctor Who and Nyssa, but also other writers and what they were doing at the time you were writing. That’s interesting to really see the writing process in action as it unfolds, and to see how what’s going on around you can also help with your own process.
Most interesting and informative, Tim, thanks for sharing that.
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Many thanks for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed ‘Part One’ of my ‘Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ trilogy on my blog.
Very pleased you enjoyed my thoughts on making ‘The Railway of Time’ and on my ‘Doctor Who’ stories so far. It was an interesting process to go through when I started writing the series of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy in 2010. Despite the difficulties though, I found it an enjoyable experience and I’m pleased with the way I wrote and re-wrote this story from 2009 and 2010 with the third year of my uni degree in the gap between.
I’m glad I planned in advance some of the things I was going to input into ‘The Railway of Time’ before actually writing the story. Things changed in the process, but in a way that’s the secret of good storytelling. Things don’t always go according to your original plan as they work better with new ideas you come up with in the flow of the writing. I’m currently on ‘Part Four’ of ‘The Tree of Riverloth’ at the moment, but I’ve still got a long way to go before completing the story with potential changes to make for the ending of the story as well as re-writing ‘Parts One and Two’ later on.
I do try my best to keep an open mind when writing my stories, as some of the things around me help to inspire me to write scenes between characters and improving plot points during the story. I’m pleased you like how I shared the things that inspired me with writing the story, especially with getting inspiration from other writers; ‘Doctor Who’ and Nyssa. I really enjoyed the character development process of my stories as I like to see where characters go before reaching their goal at the end of the story. I’d like to think my stories are more character-driven as well as plot-driven.
Very pleased you found ‘Part One’ of my making-of trilogy informative and interesting. I’m pleased you enjoyed reading it and that it kept you entertained. I really appreciate your comments and thoughts on my blog post.
Hope you enjoyed ‘Part Two’ next. Keep a look out as that will be coming soon to my blog.
I did enjoy reading about your process in writing the Fifth Doctor stories. It will indeed be interesting to read Part Two.
I can imagine that you would have had all these ideas in your mind, and wanting to get them all down. Having a gap in the writing, while your did your degree would, perhaps have made things both harder, in that you would have to pick up the threads of the story again, and easier, in that you could step back from it and come in fresh, and in the meantime have picked up some new thoughts and inspirations along the way. I guess every writing process is a bit like that, you just have to feed it and let it grow and then really get down what you want to capture.
I think your stories are very successfully character-driven. You’ve taken the time and trouble to really flesh out the characters. While the Doctor and Nyssa are already fully-developed characters, it would still be tricky to ensure you remained true to those characters, or any fan would immediately notice.
New characters, that you’ve created yourself, you can be freer with, perhaps, but you still have to remain true to what you want to write, and still have them work within the context of the story. So there again you’ve got some freedom and some constraints. A real balancing act, I would think, especially where you need to weave not only the plot, and the timing of the plot in the scenes and episodes, but the characters, and the development of them, and having them act within the character’s personalities.
I will look forward to reading more on the blog, Tim, it’s really great.
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Thanks for your comments.
I’m glad I made that decision to take a break from doing my story when I stopped at ‘Part One’ and continued with my degree. It certainly allowed me with fresh ideas when I came back to doing the story with re-reading/re-writing ‘Part One’ and continuing with writing ‘Parts Two, Three and Four’ afterwards.
I’m so pleased you find my stories so successfully character-driven. I like character-driven stories as they work well for me and they help the audience to engage with the story and see things from the characters’ point-of-view. I was apprehensive about tackling the Doctor and Nyssa as well-established characters and didn’t think I would do them justice when writing them, compared to writing for Billy and Mr. Adams. But having listened to the BF audios and watching the Doctor and Nyssa in the TV stories they were in, it came naturally to me with how I wrote them. I’m pleased you found them well-justified in my writing for them.
I like your thoughts on how to develop new characters in stories with freedom and constraints. Yes that is true when I was developing characters like Billy and Mr Adams. It was a challenge trying to identify what their weaknesses and strengths were. Certainly with Billy, I had to make sure his traits were amiable and likeable, whilst at the same time developing the flaws he had whilst with the Doctor and Nyssa. Also with Adams, he was a character that could be pretty volatile and sometimes disagreeable. But there was also a side to him that had to be likeable when he was helping the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy during ‘The Railway of Time’. It was those contrasts in personalities that had to be balanced, and certainly with Richard Briers in my head to create Adams as a character helped in that respect. At least I hope it did. 🙂
I’m very pleased you’re still enjoying my blog, Leigh. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy more posts and pages coming on the way soon.
Many thanks again for your kind comments. Tim. 🙂
So there was roughly a six month gap between writing part one to parts two, three, four? I wouldn’t known if you hadn’t said as it seamless flows from one part into another.
I like how you got your inspiration from a railway museum, it’s strange how certain places or events trigger ones imagination, i like how you base your characters on certain actors like Richard Briars for Mr Adams which is perfect casting Tim.
Was the 1963 setting influenced by when the show began in 1963?
Tim, I really wish, hope & pray obe of BF writers reads your Fifth Doctor stories because I’m sure they’d notice your amazing talent for writing a clever paced exciting adventure.
Nothing would please me more seeing The Railway Of Time by Tim Bradley on a Big Finish sleeve cover because this is a brilliant story that captures the Fifth Doctor era perfectly.
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Yes there was that six-month gap between writing ‘Part One’ and ‘Parts Two, Three and Four’ before I completed the story in the summer in 2010. I needed to rewrite ‘Part One’ when I got back into writing the story properly as I wasn’t happy with the original first draft of the episode. I did make a number of changes to the plot whilst re-writing ‘Part One’ and developing ‘Parts Two, Three and Four’ all the way through.
It’s amazing I had that railway museum as a source of inspiration for my story. It was a happy time that day trip to the railway museum when my parents and I were on holiday in Monmouth.
Yes, I try to see if I can base certain characters on certain actors who I would like to appear in my stories. I’m pleased you like my casting of Richard Briers of Mr. Adams. His voice just stuck in my head when I was writing him in my story. It’s a shame Richard Briers isn’t with us anymore as he would be great as Adams in a Big Finish audio adaptation of my story ‘The Railway of Time’. I don’t know who else could play Mr Adams at the moment if it was made for audio.
Actually that was a coincidence with the story being set in 1963 when ‘Doctor Who’ as a show began in that year. It was around that time according to the BBC sitcom ‘Oh Doctor Beeching!’ that the steam railways were in trouble when being axed by Dr Richard Beeching in 1963. But it certainly is a good year to set the story, as 1963 is a great year for ‘Doctor Who’ when it began. Also the story takes place before the First Doctor arrives on Earth in 1963, since ‘The Railway of Time is in the spring whilst ‘An Unearthly Child is in November of that year. 😀
It would nice to know that one of the BF writers had read my ‘Doctor Who’ stories on my blog. I’m sure one of them has, but I can understand if they haven’t commented as they’re probably busy with their own writing work at BF and it’s best not to keep any false hopes. But if anyone from BF has read my ‘Doctor Who’ stories, I hope they’ve enjoyed them.
I’m very pleased you find ‘The Railway of Time’ captures the Fifth Doctor era and that you’d like to see the story on CD cover someday. That’s very kind of you.
Stay tuned for ‘Part Two’ of the ‘Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley” to my blog soon!
Yes, I can imagine that taking a break and then coming back to the writing would have allowed you to take a fresh viewpoint at it, and to also add into the story fresh ideas and inspirations that would have occurred in the meantime.
I think character-driven stories are often the most rewarding, but perhaps the most difficult to get right for an audience. Especially with established characters, as you say, it can be very difficult. I do think you wrote all the characters very well; they were all unique, and all really ‘worked’ as well-rounded characters throughout the stories and the different scenarios they found themselves reacting in and to.
I think with main characters who were introduced, and who were very ‘human’, as they needed to be, Billy and Mr Adams were both very well drawn. Mr Adams, starting out as a rather weak and unpleasant man, soon becomes much more human in his emotions and reactions, and therefore much more likeable and vulnerable. That was very well done, I think.
Thanks, Tim, I am enjoying your posts on the blog, indeed.
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Thanks for your comments, Leigh.
Yes I suppose character-driven stories can be the most difficult to get right, especially with established characters. Somehow I find it easy to write when it comes to writing my ‘Doctor Who’ stories. But I suppose by planning ahead, you do get a foreknowledge of what you expect your characters, provided you don’t set pre-conceived goals at the end that may ruin the story’s outcome.
I’m pleased you enjoyed the outcome of my characters featured in ‘The Railway of Time’, especially with Billy and Mr. Adams.
Many thanks, Leigh. Looking forward to hearing more from you on my blog.