Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ – Part Two

Hello everyone!

Welcome to ‘Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ – Part Two’.

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 second blog post looks into the making and writing of the second story in the series, ‘The Space Hotel’.

If this is your first time, check out the first blog post ‘Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ – Part One’.

WARNING: If you haven’t read ‘The Space Hotel’ 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!


I wrote ‘The Railway of Time’ during the months of May and June 2010. Part of me wanted to have the experience of what it would be like to interact with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’ and have an adventure. That was partly another reason why I created the character of Billy Walker.

The character of Billy Walker had its challenges when writing. Whilst I wanted to add a male companion in the already established TARDIS with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, I wanted to avoid certain clichés regarding Billy’s role as a companion compared to what had been established before.

Specifically, I wanted to avoid making Billy like Adric and Turlough. Those two male companions were clever but didn’t have admirable traits that I found important in a companion. I wanted Billy to be likeable, so I made him straightforward; earthbound and not clever as the Doctor and Nyssa are.

Billy is a character from 1963. This gave me the advantage to make Billy down-to-earth and have him as medium for the audience to interact with when trying to understand the stories he was in. It helped when Billy tried to understand the scientific complexities explained by the Doctor and Nyssa.

It was also fun to have Billy interact with the Doctor and Nyssa in terms of the relationships he had with them. Billy is closer to Nyssa, since she is more her age and he is easily attracted to her when he’s with her. With the Doctor, it’s different as Billy finds the Doctor emotionally detached at times.

Through these stories by me, I explored different aspects of the relationships between the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. There was tension and there also was camaraderie. It was also interesting to explore how Nyssa and Billy developed their relationship and how the Doctor was responding to them both.

The decision to carry on with Billy as a companion in the TARDIS was natural to me, since I wanted to write a series with this new TARDIS trio. But I felt it was important to develop Billy’s journey as a companion gradually, and this was apparent when I was writing the first Fifth Doctor trilogy by me.

The prologue at the beginning of ‘The Space Hotel’ was my inspired idea to establish how Billy gets to be a companion with the Doctor and Nyssa. I wanted to establish how Billy clearly wants to be with the Doctor and Nyssa, but was reluctant to as he didn’t want the cramp their style in the TARDIS.

It also helps with linking the story from ‘The Railway of Time’ into ‘The Space Hotel’. Since I ended ‘The Railway of Time’ with Billy going out on a date with Nyssa, it was good to carry on from that ending to begin ‘The Space Hotel’ when Nyssa and Billy return to the TARDIS in Huttle after their date.

The way I had the TARDIS prevent Billy leaving with the doors shutting on him was something that came to me. I wanted to find a way of keeping Billy as a companion with the Doctor and Nyssa, without making it seem like he was intruding. I’m pleased how I was able to keep Billy in the TARDIS.

The reason why the TARDIS prevents Billy leaving and took off so suddenly gradually developed, as I was writing the story. I liked how I connected it to Lady Mite who had summoned help with the ‘distress call circuit’ in her TARDIS. That was developed gradually and it avoided being a coincidence.

After ‘The Railway of Time’, I wanted to do something different with my second ‘Doctor Who’ story. ‘The Railway of Time’ was set on Earth, so it was natural to have the next story set in the future and in space. I don’t remember how and why I had the inspired idea of setting the story on a space hotel.

dining room

All I know is I wanted to do a ‘Fawlty Towers’-set in space-style of story, as I was a fan of ‘Fawlty Towers’ as well as ‘Doctor Who’. ‘Fawlty Towers’ is a BBC comedy series made in the 1970s by John Cleese and Connie Booth. It was interesting and fun to do an outer-space version of ‘Fawlty Towers’.

The characters were easy to create in ‘The Space Hotel’. But I didn’t know what the story was going to be about, as I had to think on that. One of my favourite episodes from ‘Fawlty Towers’ is ‘The Kipper and the Corpse’. In that episode, somebody dies during the night whilst staying at the hotel.

That gave me the inspired idea to do a murder mystery on the space hotel. It was by no means easy to do, especially with the additional ideas and concepts included in the story such as the androids and the holographic simi-suites. But it was fun to do when writing how the mystery gets resolved.

Sexy Nyssa - Copy

‘The Space Hotel’ is a bolder story compared to what ‘The Railway of Time’ was about. I found it tough when trying to write in so many elements set at the space hotel as well as on space stations and in space cars. But the challenges were rewarding, as I enjoyed doing a murder-mystery comedy story.

I wanted to adopt the style of writing by Douglas Adams when he wrote his ‘Doctor Who’ stories and ‘The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy’. This explains why Bruce the android sounds so similar to Marvin from ‘Hitchhikers’ and why I added the Adams-styled humour and jokes in ‘The Space Hotel’.

Some of the characters in ‘The Space Hotel’ are similar to those in ‘Fawlty Towers’. There’s obviously Gordon Rotenhend who is like Basil Fawlty, there’s Elizabeth Rotenhend who is like Sybil Fawlty; and there’s Enuji the alien waitress who is a combination of Manuel the Spanish waiter and the Polly the waitress.

John-Sessions

The murder mystery aspect of the story was a challenge to write. I had to know who the murderer was before writing this story and not reveal his or her identity. This was to create suspense for the reader who had to guess throughout ‘The Space Hotel’ on who the murderer was and to be surprised at the end.

Choosing Elizabeth as the murderer was no small task. I had to know who the least likely candidate of murder suspects it was and it had to be a surprise. It was challenging to find out what Elizabeth was; why she became a hologram; how she committed those murders and what her motives were.

Larry Cooper and Bob Hill are my favourite characters in ‘The Space Hotel’. I wanted a Laurel & Hardy space-type duo for my story. It didn’t turn out that way, but as I wrote Larry and Bob, I could easily hear the Chuckle Brothers’ voices in my head. So Larry and Bob became the Chuckle Brothers!

chuckle brothers

As well as having the Chuckle Brothers cast in my mind as Larry and Bob, it occurred to me that it would be inspired to have John Sessions cast as Gordon Rotenhend, should this story be made into an audio drama by Big Finish. John Sessions was in ‘Castle of Fear’ with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton.

Lady Mite was created to establish the snobbery that was the key to Gordon Rotenhend’s character. I was pleased with the inspired idea to make Lady Mite a Time Lord/Lady as the story developed. It helped to explain why and how the TARDIS was summoned to the space hotel, as I explained earlier.

If I was given the choice of who to cast the role of Lady Mite in a Big Finish audio adaptation of ‘The Space Hotel’, I would choose Elizabeth Morton. As well being married to Peter Davison, Elizabeth also starred in the Big Finish audio, ‘The Waters of Amsterdam’ which I enjoyed very much.

elizabethmorton

The ideas and concepts including identity crisis and holographic simulation were inspired from some of my favourite TV shows like ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Star Trek’. I didn’t want the ideas and concepts to overwhelm the story, as it was important to me that they helped in progressing the story forward.

The floor layout of ‘The Space Hotel’ was a challenge. I had to know where characters were on each floor or level; what rooms they were in; what those rooms were for and remembering what floors those rooms were on. I was able to get the scene direction right and follow the characters’ journeys.

The essential aspect of ‘The Space Hotel’ was developing Billy’s journey as a companion in ‘Doctor Who’. Billy is reluctant to continue travelling with the Doctor and Nyssa, knowing the dangers as well as the wonders of the universe. It was a matter of finding out what persuades Billy to continue on.

Throughout the story, Billy forms a close attachment to Nyssa and becomes romantically smitten with her. Nyssa also encourages Billy to continue travelling with her and the Doctor in the TARDIS. This prompts Billy to decide and stay on in the TARDIS when he is warmed by Nyssa’s encouragement.

Writing ‘The Space Hotel’ was great fun for me to do in the summer of 2010. I remember having to re-read and re-write the first two episodes of the story before I continued writing the last two. When I was at a summer drama camp in Cirencester, I took the first two episodes with me to re-read there.

After ‘The Space Hotel’, I saw Sarah Sutton for the second time at the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention in Swansea, September 2010. I was pleased to see Sarah again and it was fitting to see her at the Village Hotel in Swansea. She hoped she’d see me again at another convention which was I was very happy about.

rotenhend hotel

TO BE CONTINUED…

4 thoughts on “Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ – Part Two

  1. IWishIHadATardis

    Hi Tim

    I have enjoyed reading Part Two about your writing of the Fifth Doctor stories.

    It’s interesting to see the length of time since you started writing The Railway of Time. I think that you have managed very well to keep the core of the story very much in the same flavour throughout; nobody would ever be able to tell, I don’t think, where you may have stopped for a while and picked it up again. All part of a good editing process, I would imagine.

    I think you have succeeded well in making Billy an interesting character, yet very different to Adric and Turlough. Both Adric and Turlough had very strong traits that could be seen at times as rather negative or unpleasant, yet at core they were good people in their own way and in the context of their upbringing and homeworlds. Billy, I think, remains true to his context of upbringing and homeworld as well, which helps to make him another successful character. I said to you a few times while reading your stories that I think Billy projects very well the character of a young man brought up well, and in a middle-class household, if I can use that terminology, in the 1950s and presents very well as a young man of the 1960s.

    He has an old-fashioned air in some ways and is very polite and slightly self-effacing, yet is very much open to looking forward and outward, which makes him ideal to take in the Tardis, as he is open to new experience, and is willing to put himself out there to try new things, and to understand what goes on around him; again, I think, a part of the 1960s, when so many new things were being introduced into the world.

    Seeing Billy interact with Nyssa and the Doctor is interesting, as he very quickly picks up on the different ways he needs to be with both of them. While he recognises them both as ‘alien’ to his world and his time, he finds common ground with them, which is very important to a Tardis companion, I think. That tension and the camaraderie is very ‘real’ to the characters’ development, and to the development of the storylines, which has been well done.

    I think you worked the storylines, and the characters, from The Railway of Time to The Space Hotel very well, and there was continuity yet development throughout, which is important to retain the interest of the audience. The background to the story of the Space Hotel was nicely woven into the narrative, and we could follow that as we followed the development of the characters themselves, not just the Tardis crew, but the people on the Hotel, and those who are trying to influence events on the Hotel.

    A complicated story, this works well, partly because it is largely set in a fairly self-contained environment where the large number of characters are contained within that environment, and partly because it has well-developed characters whose motivations become apparent, but whose actions are readily understandable as we find those motivations.

    I think it was good, too, to develop Billy as a character who had doubts about what he was now doing, and whether he wanted to continue to do it. Finding himself in danger, and realising that it wasn’t all fun and games travelling through space, was a bit of a revelation to Billy, and that revelation follows him in to the next story with the Daleks, as well, where he has to face up to his fears again, and decide what’s important.

    Very interesting, Tim, to read about your writing process and the writing of The Space Hotel. I enjoyed the story, and I’m very interested to hear about your writing of Doom of the Daleks when you get to that.

    Leigh

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    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Leigh.

      Glad you enjoyed reading ‘Part Two’ of my ‘Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley” trilogy of posts on my blog. Thank you for your kind comments.

      Well, I sort of planned the stories I wanted to write with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy early on. Even when I was taking a break to do my degree in the gap between writing ‘Part One’ and ‘Parts Two, Three and Four’. I listed the stories I wanted to write in each season for the Fifth Doctor series I was writing. I didn’t think I would ever get to complete the Fifth Doctor series by me from the initial plans I made in 2010. But I’m glad I did as I eventually finished the series in 2015.

      I was also able to make notes along the way whenever I was on holiday or taking breaks to develop the stories of ‘The Railway of Time’, ‘The Space Hotel’ and ‘Doom of the Daleks’ before writing them. I find relaxing breaks and holidays are a good source of inspiration when writing your stories, aren’t they?

      I’m glad you liked my comments on how I compared Billy to Adric and Turlough when developing him as a male companion with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. Yes Adric and Turlough were good people in their own way, despite the negative and unpleasant traits they had. With Billy, I was going for a back-to-basics type of companion when developing him a straightforward person who wanted to be with the Doctor and Nyssa and not have any negative motivations that some of the TV companions of that era like Tegan, Adric and Turlough seemed to have.

      I’m glad you found Billy to be a successful and interesting character when you were reading my stories. I’m also glad that you found Billy stayed to the context of his upbringing and where he came from in 1963. Billy does represents the 1950s rather than 1960s in some way as he is rather old-fashioned in his way before the swinging sixties came along with the Beatles and Elvis Presley. I like your use of terminology of Billy being of a middle-class household as that is where he comes from. It was interesting to have him interact with the Doctor and Nyssa who are more Lord-and-Lady like compared to him, especially when I was writing ‘The Space Hotel’.

      Yes that is true as the 1960s was a time when things were changing and new things were introduced to the world. Billy is open-minded despite being old-fashioned in some ways, and perhaps that’s what attracts him to the Doctor and Nyssa and vice versa. I’m glad you seem to think so in my companions and that you think Billy is an ideal person to take on in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Nyssa.

      I’m glad you like how Billy interacts with Nyssa and the Doctor differently and that you find it interesting. I’m pleased you like how Billy finds common ground with both of them, despite being alien to him. I’m glad you like the tension and camaraderie between the characters and that you find it real when reading the stories. I’m glad you found the way I approached the relationships between the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy well-done as you read these stories. I’m sure you’ll enjoy how that relationship between the trio develops in later stories.

      I’m pleased you liked how I linked the storylines and the characters from ‘The Railway of Time’ into ‘The Space Hotel’. I wondered how I would keep the audience interested when making that link between the two stories. But as a writer of both stories, I suppose it’s an easy think to do when you’re thinking about particular story arcs and links that need to be connected between characters and storylines. I’m glad I did that in the Prologue, and I’m glad you were able to follow the development of the characters in the TARDIS crew and of the Hotel characters in ‘The Space Hotel’ story.

      I’m pleased you find this story works well, despite its complicated structure and plot. I’m pleased you’re impressed with how I handled the characters in a self-contained environment and how I reveal each of their motivations, especially with this being a murder-mystery comedy adventure.

      I’m pleased you liked how Billy has doubts during these three stories when he wants to travel with the Doctor and Nyssa. I think Billy does enjoy himself in the first two stories, but I’m glad you noticed that he begins to realize it’s not all fun and games and it is evident for him in the next story with the Daleks. I’m glad you like it when Billy is facing his fears and deciding what’s important. I hope you’ll enjoy it when it gets explored further for Billy in ‘The Tree of Riverloth’.

      I’m very pleased you enjoyed my continuing thoughts on writing ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series and on ‘The Space Hotel’. I hope you’ll enjoy ‘Part 3’ of this making-of series, focusing on ‘Doom of the Daleks’. That will be posted on my blog next week.

      Many thanks for your kind comments, Leigh. Glad you’re enjoyed my blog posts!

      Tim. 🙂

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  2. Timelord 007

    John Sessions as Gordon= perfect casting mate i can actually visualize him as Gordon you’ve done it again Bradders.

    I like the Douglas Adams type humour of this story which is laugh out loud hilarious without ever descending into becoming a farce, the story is brilliantly paced & the murderer reveal was excellent, the characters in this story are eccentric bonkers & so likeable & i like how you expand upon Billy & Nyssas relationship in this story.

    Billy is a old fashioned English gentleman who is well mannered & has a good heart despite being a little reckless at times by not always thinking things through & just reacts which is the only thing i thought similar to Adric, Billy is his own character & very likeable.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      I’m glad you approve of my casting of John Sessions as Gordon in ‘The Space Hotel’. I wish that could happen, should BF decide to adapt ‘The Space Hotel’ into an audio drama.

      I’m pleased you liked the Douglas Adams atmosphere of humour in this story and that you found it a laugh-out-loud story whilst at the same being a well-paced story and not descending into farce. I’m glad you enjoyed it when the murderer got reveal in the story and that you found it excellent. I’m glad you liked the supporting characters and found it bonkers in the story. Glad you enjoyed Nyssa and Billy’s relationship in this story. I hope you’ll enjoy more of them in later stories in the series.

      Billy is actually from Cardiff in Wales, which will be clarified in ‘The Tree of Riverloth’. But I’m glad you find him to have a good heart and well-mannered in the stories he’s in with the Doctor and Nyssa. Yes he can be reckless at times, as he sometimes doesn’t think before he acts. Interesting you found that was the only similar thing between Billy and Adric. But I’m glad you still find Billy likeable and being his own character in my ‘Doctor Who’ stories.

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon. Glad you enjoyed ‘Part 2’ of my making-of series this week. I hope you’ll enjoy ‘Part 3’ next week, focusing on ‘Doom of the Daleks’.

      Tim. 🙂

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