Welcome to ‘The Space Hotel’, my second ‘Doctor Who’ story!
I enjoyed writing ‘The Railway of Time’ so much in May/June of 2010 that I was looking forward to writing the next story with the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. After ‘The Railway of Time’, I wanted to explore more of the worlds of ‘Doctor Who’ and also be bolder in writing a story that is full of ideas.
With ‘The Railway of Time’, I had set the story on Earth. Now it was time to do something different and write a story set in the far future and in deep space with aliens. I didn’t want to write anything too serious or too scientific, so I came up with this four-part outer-space comedy murder-mystery.
‘The Space Hotel’ is a mixture of many loves I have including ‘Doctor Who’; Nyssa and ‘Fawlty Towers’. I’m a massive fan of the BBC sitcom series called ‘Fawlty Towers’ and I wanted to write a story that was a ‘Fawlty Towers’-styled murder mystery set in space with the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy.
If you know and love ‘Fawlty Towers’ like I do, you’ll find plenty of in-jokes and references to the classic sitcom series. There are also characters you may find familiar from the sitcom series including Elizabeth Rotenhend (Sybil); Enuji (a female alien version of Manuel); an Admiral; two ladies and a chef.
Gordon Rotenhend was deliberately supposed to be an outer-space Basil Fawlty-type character. I imagine that Gordon would be played by John Sessions if this was made for Big Finish audio. I also gave Gordon and Elizabeth a son named Joel, which is a complete departure from ‘Fawlty Towers’.
I also wanted to write in the style of Douglas Adams, who was script-editor of ‘Doctor Who’ in 1979. So I re-watched stories like ‘The Pirate Planet’ to get me into writing a comedic ‘Doctor Who’ story. I also listened to ‘The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy’ radio series by Douglas Adams for inspiration.
There is a character called Bruce the android in this story. I based Bruce on Marvin the paranoid android from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. I didn’t takes lines directly from Marvin and put them into Bruce, but he has the same dreary attitude to life and it was fun writing him in this story.
I wanted to include characters that were a Laurel & Hardy-type duo in outer-space. They became Larry Cooper and Bob Hill. Whilst writing them, they actually sounded like the Chuckle Brothers. I’m sure that Paul and Barry would enjoy playing these characters this was made into a Big Finish audio.
The murder mystery was also fun to write in ‘The Space Hotel’. I had to make sure that I knew who the murderer was and keep my audience guessing who it was until the end of ‘Part Four’ which was a challenge to do. Certain characters are not what they seem and may not appear to be human at all.
The simi-suites featured in this story were inspired by the holodecks featured in the spin-off ‘Star Trek’ series including ‘The Next Generation’; ‘Deep Space Nine’ and ‘Voyager’. They were also inspired by the Danger Room from ‘X-Men’. I had a lot of fun writing those scenes in the simi-suites.
The sonic screwdriver also makes a return appearance for the Fifth Doctor in this story. I had in mind to bring the sonic screwdriver back in my series of stories for the Fifth Doctor. Sadly, this is the only appearance it makes in ‘The Space Hotel’, but I gave it a heroic send-off when it’s destroyed again.
Having established Billy Walker in ‘The Railway of Time’, I was keen to make him a companion by the end of this story. Billy’s journey as companion grew gradually in this story (as well as in this trilogy of stories), as he comes to be accepted by the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa as their new friend in the TARDIS.
‘The Space Hotel’ is a slightly different compared to ‘The Railway of Time’ and any other ‘Doctor Who’ story. It’s a bolder adventure as well as a futuristic space farce. But then ‘Doctor Who’ has always experimented with humour in stories like ‘The Romans’ on TV and ‘Castle of Fear’ on audio.
If you find this story far-fetched, then fair enough. It was, for me, a brave attempt to do a farcical ‘Doctor Who’ story such as this. I hope you enjoy it. If you don’t, then at least I tried. I had great fun writing this. I hope you enjoy how Billy’s first trip in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Nyssa turns out.
TIM BRADLEY, February 2016.
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