Hello everyone! 🙂
Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!
And welcome to ‘Making ‘The Salvador Trilogy’ – Part One’!
This is a continuation of the ‘Making ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series.
This is a blog post focusing on the behind-the-scenes making of ‘The Austen Code’ in ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series. ‘The Austen Code’ features the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy with Jane Austen and it features the first appearance of the villainous Salvador.
WARNING: If you haven’t read ‘The Austen Code’ 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!
‘The Austen Code’ was the first story in the second season of ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series, which soon became ‘The Salvador Trilogy’. I wrote this story in the months of March and April 2011. I enjoyed writing this and found it an invigorating experience with doing lots of research.
In 2010, I completed my first trilogy of Fifth Doctor stories with ‘The Railway of Time’, ‘The Space Hotel’ and ‘Doom of the Daleks’. Having enjoyed writing those three stories in that year, I wanted another opportunity to write a second trilogy to my series. Thankfully I found the opportunity easily.
When it came to tackling the second trilogy of Fifth Doctor stories, it was a blank slate at first and a question of what the trilogy would be about. The first trilogy established Billy Walker as the new companion to the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in the TARDIS and this had been well-achieved for me in writing.
I knew I wanted to enhance Billy’s story with Nyssa as well as the Doctor and see how their relationships would develop. Although it wouldn’t be fully explored in ‘The Austen Code’ with Nyssa and Billy becoming a couple, this is where it begins with the two having feelings towards each other.
The Nyssa and Billy story was at the heart of this trilogy as well as for the whole ‘Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series. Yet for the trilogy, I needed to have a central theme to encompass the three TARDIS regulars, especially with the Doctor. I eventually decided to feature a main villain in all three stories.
The villain was a challenge to come up with, as I wanted the trilogy to echo something of ‘The Black Guardian Trilogy’ from the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series. But I didn’t want the villain in all three stories to appear in the background and not do much as the Black Guardian seemed to do for his own trilogy.
I wanted the main villain of the trilogy to be actively involved with events in all three stories. I soon created the character of Salvador, the dark lord who watched the Doctor and his friends and made things happen during these stories. Salvador’s character developed gradually as I wrote the stories.
I knew that I wanted Salvador to have a personal connection with the Doctor and to do what he does in the trilogy as acts of revenge against him. At the time of this story, I didn’t know this personal grudge that Salvador had against the Doctor was. It was while I wrote the trilogy I knew what it was.
When it came to deciding what the first story in this trilogy would be about, I decided to go for an Earthbound story. I had done quite a number of futuristic stories in my first trilogy of Fifth Doctor stories so far. So it was natural for me to write an Earthbound historical adventure for a change here.
I soon came up with the idea of setting the story in the city of Bath in England. I’ve visited Bath a number of times with my parents on holidays and day trips. So I knew the place pretty well. One of my aunts and uncles resides in Bath. Thus it gave me that opportunity to visit the city and also visit them.
With that decision made, it was merely coming up with a story of why it was set in Bath. I had a number of ideas floating around, before I eventually decided to include Jane Austen in the story. Miss Austen lived in Bath for a time, so it was a superb opportunity to explore that side of the story.
I also decided to include the Roman Baths in the story. This meant of course having to do lots of research into not just Jane Austen, but also the Roman Baths themselves. It also meant that the story would take place in not just one time zone, but eventually three time zones which was a challenge.
I made the decision to set the story in Bath 2011, Bath 1797 and Aquae Sulis 79 AD. I attempted a similar storytelling approach with three time zones in ‘The Railway of Time’. But with that story, it was going forwards into the three time zones. This time, it was going backwards into the time zones.
Before writing the story in March, my parents and I made a day trip of it to Bath for my Mum’s birthday in 2011. This was great for me, as I was able to purchase books of research from the Roman Baths and from the Jane Austen Centre. These places I included whilst writing the story in four parts.
I also made the conscious decision to have each of the four episodes set in specific time periods. The first episode was to be set in Bath 2011, the second episode was to be set in Bath 1797 and the third episode was to be set in Aquae Sulis 79 AD. This made the story non-linear and complex as I wrote it.
I enjoyed writing a story that featured Jane Austen in it. I’d seen the works of Jane Austen adapted for TV and film many times and I was fairly familiar with her stories. Writing her as an historical character in this ‘Doctor Who’ story was a challenge, but it was welcoming as I wrote her in the tale.
I was aware that the First Doctor had met Jane Austen beforehand in the Companion Chronicle audio ‘Frostfire’ with Vicki by Marc Platt. I made sure that I didn’t contradict anything with the First Doctor’s meeting with Miss Austen in that story, as ‘The Austen Code’ takes place before that story.
As I said before, Jane Austen is a literary romance author who lived in Bath for a time. That was when she was in her forties during the 1800s. In that time, she wrote two novels set in Bath including ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’. These novels were published after her death in 1817.
In ‘Northanger Abbey’, the story reflects Miss Austen’s early visit to Bath in 1797. In ‘Persuasion’, the story reflects her residence in Bath in the 1800s. It was her early visit to Bath in 1797 that seemed vague when I visited the Jane Austen Centre. That gave me the inspiration I needed with this story.
Because her early visit to Bath seems vague, I wanted to know why that was and whether there was something that persuaded Jane Austen to dislike Bath so much when she resided there. As this was ‘Doctor Who’, it could have been supernatural and unusual in the vein of gothic novels at that time.
‘Northanger Abbey’, as well as reflecting Jane Austen’s early visits to Bath, is also a parody on the gothic novels being published at the time like the Bronte novels and the Radcliffe novels. This gave me food for thought on Miss Austen’s impressions of Bath when joining the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy.
The Roman Baths were also a joy to include in the story. I discovered that in Roman Times, Bath wasn’t called Bath in those days. It was called Aquae Sulis, which translates from Latin to English as ‘the waters of Sulis’. This enabled me to create the monstrous threat I wanted to feature in this tale.
Sulis Minerva was a water deity that the Romans worshiped in Aquae Sulis and it was said she resided in those waters at that time. I decided to embellish on this aspect of the story and make Sulis this uncontrollable force of nature that Salvador summons up, like Kronos from ‘The Time Monster’.
The Volturnans were water zombies that I wanted to include in the story to add to the gothic horror aspects of it in regards to Miss Jane Austen and giving her inspiration in writing ‘Northanger Abbey’. The Volturnans were also part of Roman mythology, as they derived from the god Volturnus.
The character of Thorpe-Willoughby was for him to be Salvador’s disciple in the story. Thorpe-Willoughby was a combination of characters from Jane Austen’s works that were dodgy and full of greed. These included Thorpe from ‘Northanger Abbey’ and Willoughby from ‘Sense and Sensibility’.
It was pretty complex having Thorpe-Willoughby with three different names in the time zones he was in, including his own in 1797; Alexandros in 79 AD and Vernon in 2011. Mind you, this also applied to Tracy Gibbons in 2011, as she got kidnapped and went to become Lucy in 1797 and Apaulia in 79 AD.
The way I wrote this story in terms of its structure was interesting. First I wrote the first three episodes; then I re-read and re-wrote ‘Part One’; then I started writing ‘Part Four’; stopped then re-read and re-wrote ‘Part Three’; then I continued writing ‘Part Four’; stopped then re-read and re-wrote ‘Part Two’; then I finished writing ‘Part Four’. This became very complex, but worked out well.
Before writing this story, the brilliant Nicholas Courtney who played the Brigadier in ‘Doctor Who’ had passed away in February 2011. I wanted to make a dedication to Nick Courtney whilst writing this story. I saw the opportunity to do so in ‘Part One’ and made a reference to ‘Mawdryn Undead’.
At the time of writing this story, my dear Nana from Newport passed away. I was heartbroken when this happened, but I kept my spirits up when writing the second half of ‘The Austen Code’. I was able to complete the story and also booked to go to the ‘London Film and Comic Con’ to honour my Nana.
The combination of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy in these stories was a joy for me to write. I was pretty well-established with writing for this TARDIS trio by the time I came to write ‘The Austen Code’. I was able to get a grasp on their characters and understand the relationships between them.
The Fifth Doctor is clearly a gentleman who wants to solve the mystery of what goes on with Bath in its three time zones. He gets easily agitated and frustrated when things go wrong as he tries to work out and solve a problem. But these moments of frustration for him are added with some humour.
Nyssa is a gentle, caring and compassionate person. I wanted to enhance that aspect to her character in these stories and to have her be open-minded. She’s never selfish and develops a good rapport with the Doctor and Billy. I did enjoy writing the scenes Nyssa has with Jane Austen and Billy in this.
Billy has now become a seasoned traveller with the Doctor and Nyssa, even though he has much yet to learn. His feelings for Nyssa have become stronger in this story. I especially enjoyed writing that favourite moment of mine when Nyssa feigns to make out that Billy is her boyfriend to Mr. Vernon.
After writing this story, there were references made in the new series of ‘Doctor Who’ where the Doctor mentions meeting Jane Austen. This happened with the Eleventh Doctor in ‘Doctor Who Confidential’; the Twelfth Doctor in ‘The Caretaker’ and Clara Oswald in ‘Face the Raven’. Hearing those references made me happy, as I reflected on writing my ‘Doctor Who’ story with Jane Austen.
‘The Austen Code’ was a joy for me to write in 2011. I have happy memories writing it and it was invigorating to start a new trilogy with a deadly villain for the Doctor to deal with. Although Salvador wouldn’t be revealed to the Doctor by this point, his influence becomes very prominent throughout.
I’m very pleased I tackled an historical adventure in three time zones with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy meeting Jane Austen in Bath. I did plenty of research into Jane Austen, Bath and the Romans Bath and it was well worth it. I appreciate the time and effort that I took to research this adventure.
With this story, I wanted to achieve a holidaying aspect to the adventure with the likes of ‘City of Death’ and ‘Arc of Infinity’ when setting the story in Bath. I hope I’ve achieved this, especially in terms of the story’s complexities and how I developed the regular and the supporting characters throughout.
This was only the beginning of ‘The Salvador Trilogy’. Soon, Salvador would set his next trap for the Doctor to fall into. The TARDIS would be diverted off to Junglos; a quest would begin and Nyssa and Billy would be put together on a dangerous journey with their relationship being tested to the limits.
By the way, I’ve had my cover for ‘The Austen Code’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ at the NEC in Birmingham, November 2017. Back in October 2011, Sarah was impressed with the story of Nyssa meeting Jane Austen. She suggested that I should write it. 😀
TO BE CONTINUED…
Thanks for reading!
Bye for now!