10 octubre 2013

44 to 50 - A talk with Andrew Cartmel (and II)

Two days ago we posted the first part of this interview with Andrew Cartmel, where he talked us about the classic Doctor Who series cancellation and his road from being born in London, growing up in Canada, pursuing a writing career and finally being offered the script-editor post in the longest sci-fi series in the world.

The relative unknowledge of the Doctor Who mythology certainly allowed you a fresh approach...
I wasn't bound by the mythology of the show, so yes that was useful. Sometimes it was also useful to know about the mythology and use it, and then I would have the help of Marc Platt who was a fan and expert or Ben Aaronovitch who carefully researched it.

I think it's a very curious and in some aspects beautiful coincidence: the very first person who started weaving the Doctor Who plots, Sydney Newman, he was from Canada. And the last one in the original series was you, who although not born a Canadian, lived there for 10 years.
I actually am Canadian. I am both a Canadian citizen and a British citizen (born in England, but my father was Canadian). So your Sidney Newman parallel holds up!

When you arrived, the series had just gone through a decomission in 1985, and the Trial of a Time Lord 1986 season. Did you ever feel "pressed" to innovate, to tread new roads, not just for creativity's sake, but to "save" the series?
I never felt I had to save the series, because I didn't suspect it was in danger! But I did naturally innovate because I didn't think the previous approach had been working.

Which have been your greater joys in working in the series, both on screen and in other media?
My great joys have been getting lots of talented writers and giving them a chance, and watching the great results when they succeed (some of the best would be Remembranece of the Daleks, The Curse of Fenric, Ghost Light, Survival). So I have taken pleasure in my plans succeeding in this sense.

And what would you've done in another way, if you could?
My only regret is that I didn't write a lot of the series myself. But then, if I had, some of my wonderful writers would have lost *their* chance.

Molly and Andrew, a Jellicle pair
Would you like to write for the new Doctor Who series?
I'd love to write for the new series. The first thing I'd do is get rid of that fucking sonic screwdriver.

Has wondering "who the Doctor is" been one of your main interests?
I've never wondered who the Doctor is. I just wanted to make him a mystery again... and any attempt to "solve" the mystery would spoil my plan!

And deep inside? What holds true for any of the eleven, soon twelve, Doctors that effectively makes them "the same man"?
Who the Doctor essentially is... Hmm. I would just say that he is ultimately decent and on the side of good against evil, and a defender of the weak or those in need. He has other characteristics: curiosity, eccentricity, a childlike sense of wonder. But those are more variable and less essential.

What's your take on the series' appeal, generation after generation?
I think the series has a timeless appeal because a mysterious hero who does good is always popular, while the TARDIS provides a gateway to endless adventures, and the renewable nature of the Doctor allows the series to be perpetually refreshed.

We sicerely thank Andrew his time and words, and hope to chat back with him some other day.

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