DOCTOR WHO - THE BLACK ARCHIVE #62: KINDA - BACKGROUND NOTES


I have great pleasure to announce that my latest book The Black Archive #62: Kinda is now up for pre-order from Obverse Books. 

"‘Wheel turns, civilisations arise. Wheel turns, civilisations fall.’

With new input from writer Christopher Bailey, this archive examines how Kinda (1982) emerged from his background as a counter-cultural arts activist, a theatre and television writer, and his formative encounter with Buddhism. Searching the Dark Places of the Inside, Kinda is a richly layered allegory, inextricably linked, through the history and evolution of Buddhism’s teachings, with nineteenth-century European colonialism, fin de si├Ęcle literature, heritage cinema of the 1980s, Gauguin’s ‘noble savage’, acid trips and cutting-edge neuroscience."

I started work on this book back in December 2019, with a pitch to those good folks at Obverse Books who had published my exploration of the Season 18 story Warriors' Gate previously in May the same year. I was keen to tackle another story that I felt had several layers that could be peeled back and examined. So, I was swapping Taoism, quantum theory, Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard for Buddhism, Christian symbolism and Joseph Conrad (and Kate Bush). Plus drugs, primitivist painting, and the Vietnam War. Looking back at the proposal and the book that it generated I'm confident that it has managed to achieve the following broad points:

- an examination of Kinda’s development by Christopher Bailey relative to the very different visions of script-editors Christopher Bidmead, Antony Root and Eric Saward.

- director Peter Grimwade’s approach to a story he found worked counter to the Doctor Who serial format. He saw the format’s ‘adventure story’ linearity in contradiction to Bailey’s Play for Today 'artiness', intellectualism and realism.

- coverage of the themes and symbolism of Kinda: highlighting the layering of Buddhist, Christian, shamanistic and pagan meanings in the story; the Freudian and Jungian interpretations of self and other; and the articulation and interrogation of concepts of imperialist expansion and colonialism in the story. 

Within those aims lay other questions, nuances and contexts. How do you deal with Kinda as a case study in a structuralist, media studies reading published in 1983? What on earth does the heritage television and cinema of the 1980s, science fiction feminist writer Ursula K. Le Guin and Joseph Conrad have to do with all of this? And where do T.S. Eliot and Tahiti fit into the story? Would Kinda's elusive, reclusive writer Christopher Bailey even speak to me?

By March 2020, the world was turned upside down. Although I'd started writing, my first aim was to get to BBC Written Archives and sift through the production paperwork, the writer's file and any other associated documentation to provide some foundations for the details. My April 2020 appointment was alas the victim of the pandemic shut down. My employer also put me on furlough for six months. I barely went anywhere. 

So, desk research - plowing through scripts, videos, various magazines, online newspaper archives, several books about Buddhism - took over. And, yes, Christopher Bailey did speak to me. Well, we wrote to each other, mindful of the issues that Covid-19 would add to any meeting in person, and because I understood he wanted to protect his privacy. Intermittently, for a period of two years, it began with our first conversation in September 2020 and took us to the most recent of November 2022. It provoked some interesting tangents in the book and I'm so grateful for his input.

The BBC Written Archives appointment finally came through in July 2021 but even that was fraught with difficulty. The BBC's Covid-19 policy was very stringent at the time. No one was allowed into the building unless they'd had a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 24 hours of the appointment date and time. Lateral flow tests did not cut the mustard. After a false start, where I didn't get the appropriate test result in time, I was finally able to sift through the files. The team at BBC Written Archives were very supportive as they knew how long I'd had to sit on the waiting list.

Therefore, this book also takes in the span of major, life-changing decisions and events. It was the hardest thing I've ever attempted to write. I had retired by the time I submitted the first draft in 2022. When my husband caught Covid and was also back and forth with hospital appointments for an entirely unrelated matter, I had also turned sixty as the final edits were wrestled into shape in October and November this year. One to tick off on the 'things to do when you're 60' bucket list.

So, I'll leave it there for you to judge what I've made of Kinda. Enjoy the book.

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