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Sunday 29 November 2015

Twinkle, Twinkle, K9 Killer

Looking through some old stuff I found this short piece that I wrote on request for Starburst magazine in 2005. Even if you read it back then, I'm sure you'll have forgotten it by now.

I know I had...
Somewhere in the cuttings files they've got me tagged as "the man who killed K9", and it's a handle that resurfaces every now and again. For the record, I didn't do it. The character – or whatever you'd call him – didn't even die. When I got the commission for Warriors' Gate, Chris Bidmead and John Nathan-Turner gave me certain continuity baggage that I had to include. The story had to start in E-Space and end with the Doctor getting out of it. Romana had to leave the show at the end of the story. And, one way or another, K9 had to go.

It didn't feel right to kill him. That would have been like taking a bazooka to Tinkerbell. Not that I felt much attachment to K9 – I thought he was a juvenile inclusion in a show that had earned success by serving young viewers with the values of grown-up drama. I believe I stole my solution from a favourite comic of my childhood. Just as Superboy saved his faux-brother Mon-El by sending him into the Phantom Zone at the point of death, I had the Doctor give up K9 to a place where damage wrought by the Time Winds would be reversed.

Will I welcome him back? For the sake of the delightful John Leeson, who went out of his way to make me feel at ease on the set all those years ago, yes. But with the proviso that some pretty heavyweight re-imagining goes on. The last thing we want to see is the revamped show brought down by a toe-curling cute sidekick. What next? The return of Muffy the Daggit to Battlestar Galactica? Ye gods.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Stan Lee's Lucky Man

They're doing publicity now - mostly tied to interviews with Stan Lee around the release of his graphic novel-style memoir - so it's probably OK for me to say that I worked on this.

Stan Lee's Lucky Man will air on Sky in 2016. The series was developed by Neil Biswas from a concept by Stan Lee, and made for Sky by Carnival Films.

Filming on the first episodes was already under way when I was brought on board. The production team had found themselves a script short, and Carnival head Gareth Neame suggested they give me a call. I'd worked with Gareth on Life Line, but my association with Carnival goes all the way back to Bugs.

The show stars James Nesbitt along with Amara Karan, Eve Best, Sienna Guillory, Darren Boyd, and Omid Djalili.

It's not my concept and my story had to encompass the running series arc, so it was an unusual gig for me. But it was fun to write, and a welcome distraction. At the beginning of the year I had an American network show fall through at the very last moment - bags packed, clock ticking, as close as that - so this came up at just the right time.

I'll tell the American story another day. My Lucky Man episode will be hour seven in the running order and was directed by Jon East.


Friday 6 November 2015

George Barris 1925-2015

I'm reposting this from October 2009. 

The night before my birthday, I had an idea for a way to mark it.

I'm spending a lot of time on my own here in Los Angeles, but it was no big deal being alone on my birthday. It's not like I'm twelve or anything.

But... one of the routes from my place to the studio takes me past George Barris's custom car workshop on Riverside.

The name should be familiar - he's the Batmobile guy. I've seen at least one of the fibreglass replicas that he built - it's in the Cars of the Stars museum in Keswick, Cumbria -- but the so-called 'number one Batmobile', the movie prop vehicle adapted from the Lincoln Futura concept car, is the one that was actually used in the 1966 TV show. And I'd heard that he keeps it there.

So I stopped by. I had to go through the yard to find the door to the office. There was a guy behind a desk. I introduced myself and asked if it was possible to see the Batmobile.

He explained that it was a private office, but I was welcome to take look around as long as I didn't touch anything. Three steps and there it was! Not only the #1 but, through a doorway in an inner workshop, one of the five replicas as well.

I was the only person in the place! No ropes, no barriers, nothing. A woman passed through and asked politely if I'd spoken to anyone, ie whether I'd just snuck in or if anyone knew I was there; I said I'd asked permission from the gentleman near the door, and she said, "Oh, that's Mister Barris."

I walked around and around and geeked for a solid fifteen minutes. I saw an ad for "Photo of the Batmobile, signed, $10" so I asked if they had any and we chatted for a while. Barris signed a picture to me with a 'happy birthday' and wouldn't take the money.

I mean, it's not like I'm twelve or anything.


Tuesday 3 November 2015

New Becker

There's no official announcement yet, but it's probably OK to tell you that the first hardcover edition to hit the market will be a signed limited from Subterranean Press in 2016. Other editions to follow.

I've been through the proofs, and the interior's a lovely piece of design in tune with the novel's 1913 setting.

The cover's in hand, and I'll post something on that when I'm able.