Lotus position. Focus. Right. After me. 'Russell T Davies Is Not God'...oh,oh,oh, calm, calm. That's right. 'Russell T Davies Is Not God'...keep going. Lovely, deep breaths. That's it. Ready? Clench those buttocks. Breathe. Mmmmmmm. And 'Russell T Davies Is An Egomaniac'...shush, shush...calm down. No, you're losing control..no....oh, crap....'RTD MUST GO'....'RTD MUST GO'....'HE IS A BASTARD'...fuck. We were doing so well. No...buttocks...clench...calm. Clench your bum for Davies...? Oh, no. That's tantamount to an invitation.
He's moody, sulky, bitter, unfeeling and domineering. He likes to primp his ego.Not working, is it? The hordes of the internet are slagging seven kinds of shite out of Mr. Davies and now share a smug expression amongst their massed ranks. That 'we told you so' expression. The Anorak Zone forum (I mean, you are really asking for trouble calling yourself the Anorak Zone, aren't you) has been rubbing its collective hands together in glee over cross-patch Russell's attack on Outpost Gallifrey in The Writer's Tale. Basically, because they've got away with sticking their own knives into Nu-Who (I loathe that expression. I'll need a bit of correctional self-flagellation for using that on here). Silly sods. Before I regale you with the action replay of the last few chapters, let's get one thing straight. Russell is not God. He's moody, sulky, bitter, unfeeling and domineering. He likes to primp his ego. He's two faced. He is removed from reality (yes, Anorak Zone, I concede that one) but then he's been locked in the BBC's Doctor Who ivory tower for four years and The Writer's Tale isn't subtle in telling you he wants out. Wouldn't it send you doolalley?! And guess what? We'll (yes, that's me included) probably do all this again with Steven Moffat in about four years from now. Better start now. The Moff Must Go! Steven? Are...are you there?
C'est la vie. Que sera sera (yeah, I've gone all Doris Day on your asses and so has Russell by the looks of him)...
"We still cling to the notion of the writer-eccentric, which is a bloody nightmare on set."Partners In Crime is done. The pages flood across to Ben Cook, Sarah Lancashire gets the Super Nanny role and Peter Fincham, the soon to be ex-controller of BBC1, has lost the plot with all the plans for the 2009 specials and is stuck in Queen-gate. Next thing is, he's cleared his desk and gone. Steven Moffat meets Jane Tranter and Jana Bennett and says 'yes!' to the Big Chair. Well, as long as Russell runs a damp cloth over it. Meanwhile, Ben asks Russell the more important questions about the different drafts that each script goes through and how Russell demarks between his roles as producer and writer:
"I do find it easy to divorce my two roles. With my producer's hat on (it's lemon), if a scene becomes impossible or expensive or is simply dropped on the day because they ran out of time, then I can score a great big line through it. Even if I loved it. I won't moan or bleat or feel any substantial regret. It's something that writers in this country need to be trained in, like in the US. We still cling to the notion of the writer-eccentric, which is a bloody nightmare on set. That sort of writer kicks up a fuss if a character is wearing a white shirt instead of a blue one. That sort of writer shouldn't be allowed near filming. Mind you, that writer-eccentric does allow you to get away with murder. Writers are allowed, professionally to be stroppy and weird and angry and demanding and petulant and oversexed and drunk. As long as your writing is good, that behaviour is sort of revered. Even expected. We're allowed to misbehave, because it's seen as creative, like it's part of the job. Rubbish!"Me thinks the lady doth protest too much. One of the things fans have observed, and it's something Russell has admitted to, is his capacity for telling lies. OK, so it's not as outrageous as sniffing coke on set, but it's part and parcel of the outwardly facing Davies personna - the big, gay, eccentric Welsh bloke who says 'Marvellous' and 'Hurray' at the drop of hat with that cheeky grin and glint in his eye - and it does make you wonder how much of the above he actually gets away with. Note the 'we're allowed to misbehave' so he's obviously including himself there. I stopped reading at that point because I realised that the book I was eagerly devouring might well be a tissue of lies, a masterful manipulation of the said correspondence between him and Ben. "Don't believe every word, then", I muttered to myself.
Russell comments on the appointments of Steven and Piers, "Shall I lie and say that they're both complete bastards and Doctor Who is doomed?"There's a tinge of sadness in the chapter Still Fighting It at the news that Howard Attfield having returned as Donna's dad, whose illness Russell has noted, is struggling gamely with his chemo to try and film Partners In Crime. By the 16th October 2007, Howard's illness has prompted his wife to call and declare, "I think we'd better stop". Whilst casting Bernard Cribbins as Wilf to take his place in the series, Russell is touting his Midnight script to replace the recently dropped Tom MacRae episode and has got the nod from Phil and Julie to complete it. Filming on Partners In Crime final TARDIS scene is made difficult by lots of Welsh drunks, the need to add some lines in for Jacqueline King and the question of extras for the scene of the Adipose levitating to their nursery ship. And enter Piers Wenger, the new exec that will replace Julie. Russell comments on the appointments of Steven and Piers, "Shall I lie and say that they're both complete bastards and Doctor Who is doomed?" ( I now fear I can't tell when Russell is telling fibs - is that like a comedy lie, or a proper lie or a double bluff?).
The chapter Steven Moffat's Thighs delves into timey-wimey parallel worlds stuff in a flurry of mail between him and Moffat dissecting Donna's life in the parallel world of the Library. Ben also asks about the dos and don'ts of using flashbacks and voiceovers:
"The techniques are too often being used to disguise the truth, the real story, the heart of the script. It's all pyrotechnics and glitter, fuelled by insecurity. That 'Where do you start the story? ' question can become so overwhelming that the writer goes mad, firing out shots all over the place. If I'm reading something new, especially by someone new, I want to know that they can write, I want to know how their characters talk, how the pace skips along, how the story hooks me, how passionate the writer is, how much I feel the whole thing. I'm not interested in admiring the artifice and thinking, oh, that's clever."Well, that's buggered my career then. Ben also asks him about his pet hates that might drive other writers mad. He loathes dream sequences and cites Matt Jones' script for The Impossible Planet as an example where this didn't work for him at all. Jones wrote a sequence that took place inside Rose's head and Davies didn't believe it had any dramatic merit and threw it out. That and the television cliche of people storming out of rooms, never saying 'Bye' at the end of phone conversations, characters arranging to go out to the cinema or a restaurant and not actually properly making the arrangement. Davies ends that particular email, "I, of course, make no mistakes ever. Er..."
And that's your lot for today. The very last part of this review will be here at the weekend. Christ, I've got to end it somehow and review something else or I'll go mad. Even Merlin is beginning to appeal...till next time.
(Thanks to After Elton, Broadcast, bbc.co.uk, Eamon McCabe and The Guardian for photos, clips and screengrabs. A big mwwwwahhh! to you all.)