“I didn’t grow up reading literary fiction, I grew up watching Doctor Who,” says AL Kennedy. The award- winning novelist and stand- up comedian has just penned The Drosten’s Curse, a new adventure for Tom Baker’s Doctor. “My agent knew that it was possible to write adult Doctor Who books, but we’d always get a reply going, ‘ No, you’ll kill everybody!’”
Indeed, before now Kennedy’s reputation had mainly been for powerful novels like The Blue Book and works of journalism such as On Bullfighting. The Drosten’s Curse in contrast is bright and funny, though shot through with darker undercurrents.
The chance finally came on the Doctor’s 50th anniversary when she wrote a Who ebook – The Death Pit. “The treatment was miles longer. I said, ‘ Well I could write the whole thing if you want…’ and they finally let me.”
So why the Fourth Doctor? “He’s the one I grew up with. The others were fine, but as soon as Baker came in, it was like your grooviest teacher turning up. And he did it for so long, it made sense to plug into that.”
Indeed, the book fits neatly into the tone of the era. “That’s why you’ve got a character with [ Douglas Adams’s] pen name, David Agnew. I wanted to combine the two greatest things in the universe: Doctor Who and Douglas Adams!”
It’s clear that the Doctor means a lot to Kennedy. “There’s a story Tom tells about a grown up coming up to him and saying that he’d had a terrible childhood, but the Doctor had been there for him. That’s a big deal. And working with the BBC, it wasn’t about telly or money, it was about people thinking ‘ this is a good thing in the world for children’. That’s the bottom line.”
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Sherlock’s Tom Brooke cast as observing angel Fiore in Seth Rogen’s Preacher pilot, which recently began filming.
H arry S hearer – voice of Mr Burns, Ned Flanders and many other characters – quits Th e Simps ons after more than 25 years.
“I had to fax something to him. So I made this big hand
drawn cover page that said Fax von Sydow… I don’t think he thought that was funny.”
Max von Sydow isn’t an easy man to please,
according to JJ Abrams.
TVanity Fair magazine photo shoot that revealed Adam Driver is playing three- pronged lightsaber wielder Kylo Ren and Gwendoline Christie is silver Stormtrooper Captain Phasma has delivered more key intel on The Force Awakens. Turns out Andy Serkis ( the owner of the voice that told us “there has been an awakening” in the first Episode VII trailer) is playing Supreme Leader Snoke – and that ( unsurprisingly) it’s a performance capture role. We reckon he’s a high- up ( possibly the highest- up) in the First Order that’s replaced the Empire, and that he’s either an alien, or a human whose body has been through a lot. Also, could the lack of performance capture dots on his legs mean his lower limbs will be mechanical?
In another Vanity Fair scoop – we can only assume they’ve already got their hands on those elusive Death Star plans as well – Force Awakens writer ( and The Empire Strikes Back vet) Lawrence Kasdan has divulged that he and JJ Abrams are doing everything they can to keep the runtime lean. “One of the things that we always refocus on from the get- go was that it not be one of these very long, bloated blockbusters,” he said. “A lot of very entertaining movies lately are too long. In the last 20 minutes, you think, ‘ Why isn’t this over?’ We didn’t want to make a movie like that. I mean, we were really aiming to have it be when it’s over you’ll say, ‘ I wish there’s more.’”
And it looks like 007 himself may have made a detour to a galaxy far, far away. Asked whether he was making an appearance in The Force Awakens at Man Up’s London premiere, professional Star Wars fan Simon Pegg let slip, “I wasn’t a Stormtrooper. Daniel Craig, he was a Stormtrooper,” before adding: “I shouldn’t have said that.” With Harrison Ford already in the movie, this is possibly the closest we’ll get to a Cowboys & Aliens sequel...
Author Kennedy has previously written a Fourth Doctor ebook.