THE BLACK ARCHIVE #31: WARRIORS' GATE - Publication Announcement

I know, it's been a long time since I posted here. However, that's with good reason.

For about eighteen months I've been busy on two writing projects.

In November 2017, one of those took me to the BFI National Archives in Berkhamsted on the trail of a British director's archived papers. However, I can't say more at this point as the results are awaiting publication. You'll have to wait and see.

However, I had to juggle this in the middle of research for another project. This started with a pitch to Obverse Books in August 2017 for a volume in their ongoing book-length studies of single Doctor Who stories. It was a proposal to write a book about Stephen Gallagher's season 18 story, Warriors' Gate. With interesting stories about its production and a narrative and visual presentation ripe for interpretation, Gallagher's four-part serial offered something of a challenge. Obverse were willing to let me take that on.

I knew there was already a lot written about Warriors' Gate and there was plenty of material out there to wade through. After establishing a reasonably accurate outline of the production and its problems through desk research, it was off to the BBC Written Archives for a good delve through the production paperwork. This was in hope of turning up new information and also confirming some nebulous details about the dates and stages of production.

At the same time, I was fortunate enough to start a correspondence with Stephen Gallagher and the director of Warriors' Gate, Paul Joyce. Gallagher and Joyce were both very supportive of the book and, having received their blessing, I was confident enough to sound them out on a regular basis about certain matters. Several friends directed me to other material and I trotted off to University of Hull Archives at the Hull History Centre to sift through Stephen's archives, intent on tracing his radio drama career and the development of the scripts for Warriors' Gate. This research gobbled up about six months and took far longer than I expected and yielded an overwhelming amount of material.

The first draft sputtered into life around April 2018 after I'd returned from Hull. Writing continued for a sustained period until August. You may have seen quite a few tweets about this process. I was then more prepared to arrange to meet with Paul Joyce and spent a hot August afternoon in Ramsgate chatting to a fiercely intelligent man, bursting with stories and anecdotes about his career. Eventually, some of this material fed into the draft manuscripts. A further intense burst of writing took me to the end of 2018 and, as it gave way to 2019, a completed manuscript emerged.

Now, after much editing and reshaping over the last three months, The Black Archive: Warriors' Gate has escaped from E-Space and is up for pre-order

Here's the book blurb:

'The shadow of my past and of your future.'

Representative of Doctor Who at its most experimental, narratively and visually, Warriors’ Gate (1981) was the rich by-product of a producer seeking to modernise the series for the 1980s, a radio writer and novelist who had never written for television, and a film director with one television drama to his credit. 

Examining television authorship in the 1980s, and using archive research and new interviews, this Black Archive traces the development of writer Stephen Gallagher’s scripts and their onscreen realisation by producer John Nathan-Turner, script editor Christopher Bidmead, and director Paul Joyce. Similarly, it explores the story’s complex blend of absurd tragicomedy, quantum theory, randomness and entropy, within the context of British New Wave SF, the philosophy of science, modernist theatre, film and television, German Romantic painting, pop video, and the development of electronic video effects.

Many ‘authors’ contributed to the transmitted version of Warriors’ Gate and the book also    considers whether it can be claimed as the work of a single author given the collaborative nature of its troubled production. This is examined in relation to the director’s approach to television style and authorship and the significance of writer-producer-director hierarchies in the evolution of television drama since the 1980s.
 
Enjoy. I hope I've done it justice.


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