Notes on The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapter

Am reading The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapter and oh, the deliciousness of being inside such a conversation. It is the newer, updated version, with 300 extra pages.  Written over a couple of years the book consists of email and text message correspondence between Russell T Davies, head writer (or for the US readers showrunner) of the BBC Wales program Dr Who, and Dr Who Magazine reporter Benjamin Cook.  It’s intimate, at times hilarious/delirious, ranty, and inspired. What comes over nicely are 1) writing is work, constant mind at the coal face work and 2) Davies’ confidence as a Creator. He has Ideas and Makes the Choices, and then, most importantly, Does the Work. How many writers waft around waiting for inspiration before doing anything? Of course as head writer he gets to complain. A lot. But he also gets to meet Kylie Minogue and dress up like a Time Lord. So six of one, half a dozen of another.

Of course, I’m a fan of Dr Who, as an Australian I was virtually raised on BBC programs aired on the ABC (the Australian public broadcaster). It’s a wonder I don’t have an English accent.  What this means is I understood what he was writing about, in terms of his program. But if readers are not such big fans of Dr Who, you will learn quite a bit about the BBC, Cardiff, writing for TV, writing characters and writing for actors, and the day-to-dayness of working on an Institution.  As Davies’ points out, critics have views and that is fine, but writing is not a democracy, he is/was the creator, he made the decisions and is rightly proud of what he achieved. And so should we all be.

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