A serious looking piccie of Nick B.I've just started this interview with the main man, Nick Briggs...
email me any questions you might have

Have you had a look at the site (http://justyce.org), what do you think?

I have had a look at the site. Thought it was very good. Liked all those tape spines lined up. Brought back many memories, just looking at them. We did a lot, didn't we? Thought the audio clips were a good idea too. Interesting reading Gary's pre-Doctor Who interview. I know he's done another one, so I'll be interested to read a more up-to-date version.

Bill's interview was very interesting. Was chatting to him the other day, reminiscing about the old days. Ah well. But he has remembered some things incorrectly. Mind you, don't we all?

What pseudonyms did you use? This is my current list, can you add any corrections?

  • Arthur Wallis (Scripts)
  • Samuel Flint (Scripts)
  • Timothy Holbrooke (Scripts)
  • Erica Galloway (Scripts)
  • David Sax (Additional Voices)
  • Alan Lovedale (Stelpor and Additional Voices)
  • Patrick Trethui (Director, Editor and Music)

Did I do music under the name Patrick Trethui? Oh.

Mark Chappell that's Gary Russell. He used to write the new column for TV Zone under that name too.

Do you still have copies of all 27 plays, 4 musicals and 1 on-tape?

I'm afraid I don't. I have some of the later ones. I'm not a great collector. Somewhere at my parents' house is a huge box of virtually all the portastudio multi-track tapes. I may yet nick some sound fx from them, if I can clean them up a bit. I've never been able to better that lovely, grinding door noise I did for Sword of Orion. I did it with one of those old-fashioned food-chopper things with the spring-loaded plunger on top. It was rusty and made a nice squeak which sounded great when slowed down.

What was the story behind the stolen tapes of season one?

During season 3, Bill, Paul Lunn and I were sharing a house in Peckham. Bill decided to have a party. He invited a few friends, but I foolishly said, 'No, no, no, Bill. I want it to be like a party when I was a student. The house should be full of people we don't know, some of them puking in the loo, others shagging in our bedrooms!' Big mistake. We encouraged cast members of Sword of Orion to invite everyone they knew. When the house was packed with people we didn't know, and I discovered a couple shagging on top of the audio equipment I'd left on my bed, Bill said, wryly, 'This okay for you now?' The place was packed, and I think some of these unknown specimens, in various states of drunkenness saw a pile of high quality metal tapes and thought, 'I could record some really great sounds on those' and nicked them.

We blamed ourselves for being so lax and leaving them out. Odd that they only picked on season one. Maybe they were top of the pile.

Who are you still regularly in touch with from the AV team?

Bill and I have worked together a lot since. Nothing recent since we parted creative company over Auton 3; but as I mentioned above, we still chat. Bill can be the most annoying person on Earth, but he's a real professional at heart and ultimately will not let working disagreements get in the way of friendships.

Obviously Gary. He lives 5 minutes walk from my front door. We have a cup of tea together nearly every day. Naturally, there's the Big Finish connection there too. We often do our weekly shopping together (saves on petrol). Sounds a bit sad, doesn't it?

John Ainsworth is still a great friend. He got me a job at the scifi channel a few years ago; so we still have a lot to gossip about. Very regular contact there. John's a brilliant 'story' person. I invariably discuss scripts with him. He's great at spotting plot holes and generally assessing what's actually interesting.

Nick Layton I've known since we were both 11. He's down in Southampton. Don't see each other that often; but we keep in touch.

Tim Keable, who was in Connection 13 and did lots of the covers, often visits.

John Wadmore, who featured in numerous plays, directed Sword of Orion, is my best friend. Much drinking involved.

Trish Merrick gets in touch now and again.

Jim Mortimore... a phone call a year. Overdue now. Must ring.

Are you getting the picture? I still know a lot of them.

What is the first Doctor Who story you remember watching?

Not sure. Distant memories of Dalek Masterplan, but that may have been the Blue Peter clip when originally aired. Celestial Toythingy and Tenth Planet definitely. Remember crying when Junior Points of View showed Hartnell about to regenerate and Robert Robinson (presenter) asked, 'Is Dr Who dying?' or something like that.

Which Doctor Who era do you feel sparked your imagination the most?

No single era. Troughton was very special for me. I was a real kiddy then, playing with toy Daleks and drawing my own, awful comic strips. Liked the first Pertwee season because it really terrified me... Inferno particularly (still have a terrible fear of molten stuff... was on a corporate video job with Keith Barnfather and had to leave a smelting plant because I was literally shaking with fear). Tom Baker's first two seasons were particularly good too. Loved Harry Sullivan character. That team of Doc, Sarah and Harry was great. Interesting that Tom Baker says he didn't have a clue what he was doing at that point. He was at his most effective then. Trouble came when he decided he knew what he was doing. It all became a bit self-conscious. I loved that early anarchy.

What years did you study at Rose Bruford College?

Not absolutely sure. I remember The Leisure Hive was on when I started (sad fan, aren't I?). Then I think I graduated in '83.

How did you first meet Bill Baggs and Gary Russell?

I met Bill Baggs through Nick Layton, who'd decided to join DWAS, and Bill was running the Southampton Local Group. Can't remember the first meeting. Maybe it was at a convention Bill was running? Dunno.

Gary Russell... I think it was at a barbecue at Chris Corny's house in Southampton. I asked him, in all sincerity, if he and the other child actors had actually sung that 'We are the famous five' song. His reply is unrepeatable.

Was the team inspired by Who on the TV at the time, or did everyone think "It's not as good as it used to be... Let's do it better"?

It's not as cut and dried as that. Sadly enough, I'd spent my childhood pretending to be Doctor Who in my own little audio plays recorded in my bedroom starring me and bits of sound nicked from the tv programme. I leapt at the chance to do it 'sort of' legitimately. I think I felt it was ok for me to play the Doctor, because we'd just had a young one (Mr Davison) for real. And I recall being a little disgruntled with the tv programme. I think all fans go through that stage. When they lose their innocence and start wanting to criticize everything. I'd just left drama school, so I probably thought I was a world authority on acting/drama etc. Pillock!

Had 'Slipback' aired before the AV team started, what did you think of it?

No, slipback came when we were well into the AV stuff. Rather arrogantly, we thought it was pants. Well, we would, wouldn't we? Seriously, I remember being surprised at how pedestrian it was. I was very disappointed with it. I think the script was at fault.

Did you live in Sidcup at the start, and travel down to Southampton for the recordings?

You've done some research, haven't you? No, I'd left college and moved away from Sidcup by the time the AVs had started. I had a horrible bedsit in Haringey; but spent most of my time in Lyndhurst (just outside Southampton), where my parents live.

Were you happy that the AVs were non-profit making?

It never even occurred to me that we should make money. I knew we were just doing it for fun. But with Bill constantly driving to do more and more... Well, his enthusiasm was infectious. And it was better than spending all my time waiting for job interviews.

Did you enjoy your first outing as the Doctor in 'Connection 13'?

I remember I quite fancied Bill's sister, Sally. I found it frustrating, because it was very amateur. I think I was a bit grand about it. But it was fun.

Did you have any particular thoughts in your mind then as to the character of your Doctor, for example Colin always goes on about 'reacting to situations in different ways than humans'?

I was quite ashamed of myself that I didn't really think much about it at that point... what with all my training (ha, ha). Being a total fan, I think I had an instinct for that 'Doctorness' (as I think Colin Baker once called it)... and the fact is, I'd totally rewritten the script. So in that way, I think I started to build in elements of my Doctor. The short fuse temper. The enthusiasm. But mainly, it was me just doing an idealised version of me. You know, thinking of all the clever things to say and solving everything. Exactly what none of us ever do in real life!

By the time Time Ravagers came about, I'd thought a bit about it. I had decided that he was a gentleman, a scientist and an explorer with an insatiable curiosity. I was also keen on the moral imperative. I always had that in mind. Years later, when I heard Colin Baker say that the Doctor had a fundamental feel for the 'rightness' of things in the universe, I thought, that's what I thought too. I was also keen for him to be impatient with evil/misguided people. More irritated with them for missing the point, getting it wrong, rather than being morally outraged.

Did your Doctor have any preferences towards tea, e.g. English Breakfast, two sugars, three lumps of milk?

What an odd question. I definitely built in the tea thing. Tea was very important to my life. I navigated through the day on cups of tea. Other writers picked up on it. And to be frank, if they didn't, I put in tea lines. I remember Alan W Lear got the tea thing right in Enclave Irrelative.

I never established how many sugars etc. Probably two (like me) with milk (like me). I graduated to coffee on the set of Auton, when we ran out of tea and I was desperate for a boost.

Do you still drink tea, or has coffee replaced your drink of choice?

I do tend to drink more coffee now. My mother bought me one of those flash coffee pots that looks a bit like the emperor Dalek from Evil. I save tea for those special occasions (like Gary's frequent visits). I don't think Gary has any coffee, so I drink tea at his house. This is real trivia. Sure you're interested? I think tea and coffee is a real actors' thing. In the theatre jobs I've done, everyone's always nipping in and out of each other's dressing rooms, having cups of tea. God, the excitement!

The Time Ravagers is the first scripted by your good self, had you much experience of script writing for audio, or did you adapt the technique from another medium?

Nothing professional. As I said, I'd done all those ghastly burbling things throughout my childhood. A big reel-to-reel tape recorder. My brother used to play with it, then it was handed down to me. Oddly enough, he's ended up working in radio (for BBC Newcastle, and on the tv too).

What equipment did you use to edit the Time Ravagers?

A Teac/Tascam 4-track portastudio. The original kind that they demonstrated on Tomorrow's World. It belonged to Nick Layton and it was a dream come true. I couldn't believe that someone had invented something that solved all the problems so beautifully. I loved that machine. It was big, chunky and grey-brown with red flashing lights and twitching VU needles. Marvellous.

Did you learn any lessons from directing the Time Ravagers?

Yes. It's best to have all the cast present. We had no Daleks and Sally Baggs wasn't there. Michael Wisher did the Daleks later (without a ring modulator... we added the effect on weeks later) and Sally, Nick Layton and I did the Nadia lines later. It led to a brief semi-romantic link-up between Sally and I. I only mention that in case you're into gossip! She's happily married now, I hasten to add.

When did you start to bring your own friends from college along, and did they think you were nuts, or were they just pleased for the (unpaid) work?

It took me ages to pluck up the courage to ask them, precisely because I thought they'd think I was nuts. I think the first one was Blood Circuit. John Wadmore. Terrible play. Horribly over-written. Jim Mortimore (a great guy) directed it very badly. The guy with the Canadian accent in it is, surprise, surprise, Canadian. I remember Jim telling him his accent wasn't very good. Oops. Awkward moment.

What job(s) were you doing at this time?

I can't really remember. Not much. I did some fringe stuff in London and a short tour of Private Lives (which, ironically, I've just directed up in Chesterfield). My career was not going well, so I kind of turned all my energy into the AV stuff. Bit sad, but it paid off in the end. Also, there were the Myth Makers, which were starting up.

Where did you get the ideas for Conglomerate?

From my brain! I honestly don't know. I just love stories. I'm always making them up in my head. And I love trying to make sense of some of the really weird stuff that occurs to me...hence the gunge that gets off the tube train. Of course, there was the political stuff too. I was very anti-Thatcher, so I was very keen to create alien menaces which believed in Conservative party policy. I thought it was a new, more interesting motive for galactic domination. I was also quite fascinated by tube trains. No, I didn't write down their numbers in exercise books.

What sound effects were used in Conglomerate?

Bleeps from a computer, which I had great fun editing. That's when I started to develop my real passion for electronic bleeps. You can always tell a play that's been edited by me, because there are always a few complex sequences of strange electronic noises. I love 'em. The gunge... I think al lot of that was me making strange noises into a microphone. I still do a lot of that. Very embarrassing. I actually recorded the tube noises at Turnpike Lane station at 7am.

Do you feel large corporations are misguided, as the main motivating factor is always the profit, and would life be better if the true worth of humanity and the environment was realized. (a theme you pick up on later...)

Get away, I can't answer questions like that! Ok, I'm tempted... I will say, I find it unsettling that the world is really run by unelected industrial/financial entities. But everything we humans do is in some way related to power. And money is power. So that's what happens. I don't like that. And of course it's important to think long term about the environment. But it must be difficult for people to make those kind of decisions when all they're thinking about is money and power. It's easy to be wise about it when you're as piss poor as I am. What you have to remember is that humans do what humans do. I don't hold out much hope for us.

Have you had any bad experiences with large corporations yourself?

Well, BT once gave me a 6 discount to apologize for their being incompetent. I'm not a corporate person, though. When I worked at the scifi channel, I hated that company mentality. And this whole 'branding' thing can take on sinister dimensions. But humans do what humans do.

What do you remember about Cloud of Fear?

I remember we recorded it in Bill's parents' dining room. I remember a strange old amplifier that Bill tried to use to do the Psionovore voices. It was rubbish. Jim Mortimore re-did them later. I remember a strange old bloke who played the strange old bloke. A spirited amateur who got a bit carried away.

Did you do a lot of the dubbing of tapes?

I did a lot. Slightly less than my fair share. So boring. Three or four at a time!

Why was Shadow World recorded in Brixton?

Because that's where John Ainsworth (Askran) lived at the time. Can't think of any other reason. I remember his flat mate returning and being really annoyed that his flat had been turned into a recording studio. Bit tense, that.

Was this the first time you met John Ainsworth?

I can't honestly remember.

Whose idea was it to have a Timelord as a drug pusher?

Richard Marson, who wrote the story with his sister. I thought it was a terrible script.

Who came up with the word 'Sargol'?

Richard Marson, I think. I don't know.

You played Arthur Mowbray in 'Scarecrow City', was this a fun part to play?

It was fun. But the whole project was nightmarish and ill-fated. But Bill was determined. It was a very useful experience. It taught me not to be too ambitious on a small/no budget. We didn't know Gary had leant Bill money to do it. Bill wouldn't tell. He got all secretive. He can be a bit like that sometimes. Although I think he's grown out of it now. He was very young at the time, only about 17... And there he was shouting at people for staying up too late. What a little monster!

Anyway, it was a great experience. You learn so much by practising... and this was very much a practice run.

Who wrote 'Scarecrow City'?

Alan W Lear (Cloud of Fear, Minuet in Hell, Enclave Irrelative, Planet of Lies).

Why was it renamed 'Gentafil'? (spelling?)

Gentothil, I think. Some naff idea I had about Scarecrow City sounding really stupid. There was an incomprehensible word in the script that was something like Gentothil, so I changed it to Gentothil and there you are. I think it might have been the name of an alien species or something. Can't remember.

Why did this fine video project never get a release?

It wasn't fine, it was crap. Because it was never properly finished. There is a rough edit of it that Bill put together for fun. It's terrible. Only really worth watching in a 'holiday video' context.

Anything else happen that was fun at this early stage?

Bill wrote off an expensive landrover during shooting and nearly killed someone. Very amusing. Shame it wasn't on tape. I got off with the girl who made the alien masks. She's a very important person in tv design now. Fleur Whitlock. Very talented.

You recorded Mutant Phase first for season two, which you wrote, did the final product match your original idea? Was it originally planned to be a two-taper?

I can't remember that the final product differed significantly from any ideas I'd originally had. It was certainly written in quite a hurry. I think Bill had always wanted it to be a two-taper. Jim Mortimore was very keen on that, because he had all these great ideas for the packaging (you know, the red, cardboard wraparound thing... he was desperately proud of that!). It seemed almost irrelevant that the actual duration of the story didn't warrant a two-tape release. I remember that each episode came in at under 23 minutes, especially episode 4. I remember that, because 23 minutes was the length of one portastudio cassette tape (ie a generous C90 running at 2x normal speed). It's only recently that it's been pointed out to me that the whole play could have fitted on a C90. Sorry about that.

Can you give us any further details about the next mutation of the Dalek race?

Gary has commissioned The Mutant Phase for the Big Finish stories, so, as Bill has predicted, I have significantly reworked it. The new version is very different from the original, but it does focus far more on the nature of the Dalek mutation and the reasons for it. I hope you don't think I'm being over-secretive by not revealing it here. We haven't even recorded it yet. The studio session will be some time soon, though.

Any relation to the space travelling insects called the Wirrn?

Not at all, but given some of the references in the new Mutant Phase, that's an uncannily perceptive question. You'll have to wait to find out why.

You always did the Dalek stories for the AVs, has the BF:Dalek Empire series got a lot to do with you too?

Oh yes. I'm doing Mutant Phase, as I said, and I'm directing all the other Dalek stories, as well as writing and directing the three stand-alone Dalek stories. I'm also doing all the post-production/music on them. Gary knows I love Daleks, so he's given me the whole lot to do... probably because he doesn't want to see a grown man cry!

Do you think Davros was just an excuse to get a Dalek with moving lips?

I wouldn't dismiss Davros in any way. All I know is, when he kept turning up in Doctor Who, I used to groan. I think the Davros story is ONE story in the Daleks' development. Genesis was the most effective telling of this. The rest suffered from sequelitis, despite all their many very good points. And how come the Dalek guns in Genesis didn't kill Davros? If he was still breathing after they'd blasted him, wouldn't they have made sure and shot him again? Sorry, being too logical, I know.

I suppose, however, that Davros could be more subtle in his speech patterns. To the non-Who fan ear, Daleks just sound like bad railway station tannoys. To the likes of me, though, they're fantastic.

How much of the insect-like concept will be in the Big Finish version of Mutant Phase, or will it be more to do with the Daleks secretly running a planet?

No, as I said above, the insect/mutation is central. The idea of Daleks secretly running a planet was just icing on the cake and is lost in the new version. The new version concentrates on two key points in Earth's history and on Skaro. Hush my mouth, I'm giving too much away. I know I'm biased, but I'm very pleased with it and very excited about doing the new version.

What was Richard Marson like to work with, and why did he leave the company?

Richard was lots of fun. Very sharp, witty and intelligent. He had a wicked sense of humour and was a natural performer. He wasn't trained and he hasn't gone on to take up acting. But I loved working with him. He was incredibly confident. He left the company because it wasn't a priority for him and he could never guarantee when he'd be available. He let us down very badly a couple of times and didn't seem to care. He was having a life, I think! Good for him. It was all for fun, no contracts, so all we could do was ask him to be committed. I think he'd just got bored of it.

Why did Liz Knight not continue as Ria?

Liz Knight was not the slightest bit interested in being in these plays. Bill and I had cast her in Scarecrow City from the drama course at Southampton Technical College. She had a natural talent for acting, but I found her increasingly irritating to work with. By the time we'd finished Scarecrow City, I think neither of us wanted to see each other ever again... She was not interested in Doctor Who, so I think she thought we were all a bit mad and sad. She might have been right!

What did you think of Maenad?

Not much. Doesn't the title mean 'mad screaming priestess' or something? What's that got to do with anything?

I thought Trish Merrick was awful as Ria. Don't worry, I have told her this many times since, and we both laugh about it. She went off to drama school after she left AV. She's a good actress now. Hmmm, must cast her soon. I thought the script was over-wordy and the whole thing was too static. Then, when I discovered Gary had nicked the main plot ideas from banned Star Trek episodes... Well, he's a naughty boy, isn't he? I always remember Jim Mortimore and I laughing at the scene when someone gets killed in the torture chair, or whatever it was. Gary's shouting 'Higher! Higher!' (or something) and the girl is screaming more and more. Sounds very rude. That's me and my dirty mind.

What is Trish like to work with?

Terrible. Every time you got to her line, there was a huge pause, then a giggle and she'd say, 'Oh, is it me?'. Where was she looking? The script was in front of her! She was and is a lovely person, but she was AWFUL!!! back then. To be honest, she didn't get any better. I used to write less and less lines for her. Then, in Sword of Orion, we decided to lock Ria in the TARDIS. We recorded the scenes with Trish, but Bill lost the tapes. Hmmm... Convenient, eh? We re-recorded with my then girlfriend, Heather Barker, who'd already done Planet of Lies by then.

Is there any connection whatsoever between the Mysterons of "Captain Scarlet" and the Temperons? The names are close, and both speak in a low register.

There is no connection whatsoever. It's never occurred to me. Interesting. I based the voice on the villain in Inspector Gadget, actually. I'd created the Temperons long, long before in a play I'd written for my own amusement during my teens.

Where do you know Barry Killerby from, and does he really speak like Cuthbert does? And did he own a whelk-stall?

Barry never owned a whelk stall, as far as I know. Now he's Mr Blobby, he might have bought a chain of them, who knows? I was at Rose Bruford college with Barry and I was his best man for his first wedding. Barry is from Bradford, so he just laid his natural accent on a bit thick for Cuthbert.

Did you enjoy making Vilgreth, how long did it take to do? What equipment did you use?

Vilgreth was me just going off on one to fill up the tape. I think the whole thing only took me a week from script to finished product. I used the portastudio, a microphone and two keyboards, Moog Rogue and Roland SH101, and an fx processor, whose name escapes me just now. I seem to remember that the last time I heard it, I thought it was terrible. It was sort of like a TV Comic/Dr Who annual story, wasn't it?

Would you consider doing any more one-man shows?

What, Doctor Who stuff? Can't see how.

Anything interesting about Trilixia Threat?

I used Timothy Holbrooke for Trilexia Threat because director Nick Layton refused to do it unless it was rewritten. He started, but got stuck, so I took over and did it in a terrible rush. Nick's main idea was to introduce the drudgers (one of my creations, which pop up in everything I do... hope I can resist the temptation to put them in Family Affairs!). In the end, it turned out to be a pretty bad effort. Unoriginal and a bit thin on plot logic. So TH is really a pseudonym for an amalgam of the original writer, John Ainsworth, Nick Layton and me.

Nick Layton did some great sound effects, including scratching matchboxes for the itching legs of the Trilexia. I used that same technique for Birthright (the Benny play I directed/edited).

Your first historical tale was Minuet in Hell, was Alan Lear's inspiration taken from 'The Devil Rides Out'?

I've no idea where Alan's inspiration came from. Great script, though.

Did Alan W Lear just send you scripts, or would he meet up with the rest of you?

He just sent scripts. He did come to visit during Planet of Lies.

Michael Wisher returned for Minuet in Hell, did he enjoy himself?

Michael always enjoyed himself. He loved acting and I think he loved being the experienced old hand. He was always very supportive and encouraging to me.

How did Nigel Fairs become involved with the AVs? I have heard that he produced some plays himself, before coming to you?

Nigel wrote to us and said how great our plays were. I remembered his name as being that of a little boy who, in 1975, had appeared on a BBC South programme called HEY LOOK THAT'S ME doing his own Doctor Who audios. I wrote to Nigel and said, 'Was that you?' Embarrassed, he confessed it was. He said he was an actor now, so we got him along. We instantly got on with him. He's a lovely guy with a great sense of humour. I loved working with him, because he has a great imagination and really loves Doctor Who.

What do you remember about Blood Circuit?

The script was too long. We had trouble finding somewhere to record it, and Jim's heavy-handed way of directing used to get actors' backs up. Let me be clear, Jim is a fantastic bloke. He's immensely talented and we get on really well; but a director he ain't... or wasn't at that time. I found the finished result almost impossible to listen to... loud sound fx drowning out dialogue and music droning on and on. Still, pretty popular, so what do I know, eh?

Did Jim lose direction with his play?

Not sure what you mean. I do think the script was too long. Full of tangents that didn't relate to anything, and too much over-dramatic dialogue... far too much description. Jim always used 20 words where one would do. God, it just went on and on and on...

This was the first play to feature John Wadmore, had John done any audio's prior to this?

I don't think so.

When you're working under a pseudonym, do you set out to write the play with that voice already in the back of your mind, or do you look at whatever you've written after the fact, and assign a name to it? Are there specific stylistic trademarks we'd be able to spot within the plays you've written under one pseudonym that wouldn't appear in those written under another?

Well, I don't want to get pretentious, but I did decide the pseudonym first. I felt that Arthur Wallis stuff was more quirky and potentially surreal, whereas Samuel Flint was action and adventure through and through. The joke came when Subterfuge was written by Arthur and Samuel, because I felt the story borrowed from both approaches. I think I wanted both their names in the credits, because, at that time, Gary was only going to let me write one story! After that, I got too egotistical to hide my own name.

Was it weird to see your portrayal of the Doctor being represented in comic book form? How did this actually come about?

It was great. The first time, Gary did it for party animals... He just did it. The second time, Gary Gillat came round to my place and too photos of me in costume in the car park behind my flat. I said, 'You could do a Gallifrey Guardian story on this... Bloke in Back Garden Thinks He's Doctor Who!'

When that second strip came out, I was working at the scifi channel. A colleague of mine, Ian Garrard, photocopied that regeneration from McGann to me and distributed it round the building. I had to put up with people calling me Doctor and saying "I could murder a cup of tea!" to me for weeks. My boss used to introduce me to clients as Doctor Who. When they looked puzzled, he'd show them the comic strip and laugh his head off. The joke was on him, really. I used to say I was going to the TARDIS if I wanted to go to the loo. Ho, ho, ho, how the hours flew by at scifi HQ!

Why did you not have any AV stories with The Master in?

The Master was originally in Enclave Irrelative... which was originally called Hallucinomatrix... but we asked Alan to change it to one of our characters. We didn't know who to cast as the Master...

A lot of your scripts revolve around Ormelia (esp. Vilgreth), is this a favourite planet?

Using the same names saved on making up ever more outrageous new words and, as a by-product, started to give some kind of familiarity to our fictional universe. I certainly like the sound of certain words. Ormelia sounds quite believable too, don't you think?

The Doctor concludes Destructor Contract by explaining Cuthberts hold over the Temperon as being not one of force but of logic. i.e. as Time is Money, the Temperon had to earn money to survive, hence Cuthbert could engage one of his contracts onto the poor creature. I was just wondering if you thought of the 'Time is Money' premise first, when writing the play, or whether you just thought an army of Temperons was a cool idea and tried to figure out how to make these good guys become bad guys...

I have to confess that the latter explanation is probably the correct one. I remember thinking an army of Temperons was a very cool idea. But I've always been fascinated by alien menaces using means other than ray guns, torture and dungeons to coerce. Cuthbert exploited the honesty and simplicity of the Temperons. Money-makers always exploit the honesty and simplicity of others.

Did I saw someone on the net thinks the Temperon just sounds likes a dirty-phone call...

I'm laughing. I love that. Doctor: 'Temperon, is that you?' Temperon: 'Yes, Doctor. What are you wearing?'

Bill just sent me his script for Blood Circuit and I see that there was a prologue/epilogue sequence, solely for the good Doctor, that never made it into the final mix. Did you record it? Do you fancy recording it and I could put it up as a little exclusive for AV fans? Unless of course Jim was being too wordy, and you feel it would be rubbish...

Ha, ha... I do sort of remember that. I detect sarcasm about Jim. Sorry, was I too harsh? He's aware of my opinions on the subject, but would probably say some amusingly insulting things about me if you interviewed him. Jim is great at funny put-downs. He's always made me laugh a lot.

I think we decided, or maybe I decided, that the speech wasn't really relevant to anything in particular. If you send me the script, I might get round to recording it for you one day.

What _has_ been the problem with Dragon's Wrath though, we've been waiting so long, and now it is delayed again, is everyone just too busy doing real Doctor Who, or have the 'technical' problems been real...?

Real technical problems. A new editor was working on it, and things just haven't panned out. I'm having to rework it, which takes time, mainly because I'm so busy. Not too busy to spend hours answering your questions though, it seems. Well, I do this in my coffee breaks! Nigel Fairs was in Dragon's Wrath, you know.

So what is Erica Galloway's main style then?

Short skirts and leotards. Very uncomfortable to write in, but it has the desired effect.

I only made up that name because Gary wanted a woman to write one of the season 4 plays. He couldn't find one, so I said I'd do it under a female pseudonym. I think Gary was only vaguely amused, but relented. I just wanted to do everything!

The Galloway comes from Galloway in Death to the Daleks, one of my favourite stories (yes, I know it's rubbish, but I like it) and I chose Erica because I wanted a bloke's name with one minor alteration.

Tell us your thoughts on other shows, like.... Earthsearch

Followed it avidly at the time (Tom Baker's last season), and taped it, but it's very Radio 4, isn't it? A bit dry. Could have done with music. Sound effects were a bit weak and some of the performances a bit stagey.

Journey into Space

Love this. Long-winded and plodding, but with a great sense of adventure. Love the way David Jacobs says "Journey into Space" with rising intonation at the beginning of most episodes. Good music too.


Stilleto! Si, Baroney! Good grief, Penfold. Once worked with a company manager (theatre) we called Penfold. I used to say that to him all the time. Must have been very annoying for him. Loved the series. Great kids' show with dashes of adult (sophisticated) humour. Particularly liked that bit when David Jason's narrator said that the episode was so tense, he was hiding under the table.


Didn't see all of it. Listened to the BBC Radio version recently and really loved it. I love John Wyndham.

Day of the Triffids

The film is awful. The TV series was fun, if a little dated now. It's an ambition of mine to do a more liberal adaptation of this, preferably on film. One can dream. Interesting how much of the feel of this Terry Nation captures in Dalek Invasion of Earth and Survivors.

War of the Worlds (Jeff Wayne)

Bought it at the time. Remember asking to borrow money off mum to get it. Loved it. Played it to death. But now I think it's a bit dated and embarrassing. We used to joke that you could hear Richard Burton's whisky glass chinking in the background.

Would love to do proper adaptation on audio.

Why did you decide to get into acting?

Because I love it and managed to get into drama school. It's something I have to do. I love the writing and directing, but acting is my first love, if I absolutely had to choose. I love being on stage.

What is 'Family Affairs'?

Family Affairs is the Channel 5 soap opera made by Pearson TV (the people who make The Bill). I've just written an episode of it, which goes out in June, I think.

What is your typical working day, these days?

My typical working days change from month to month. Recently, they've either involved me working in a theatre, or working from home. At home, I'm either writing or doing post-production work on BF plays. My spare room is my office/studio... sounds very grand, but looks like a kid's untidy bedroom. All sorts of discarded sound effects things (like bits of rock) hanging around. My mother has a fit when she sees it! In theatre, I'm either rehearsing or performing, acting or directing. I'm off to Chesterfield at the end of May to do an Alan Ayckbourn play. I think I mentioned that before... er, did I? Getting old and confused.

Some days, of course, I'm doing Myth Makers, so I turn up to the shoot and ask stupid questions. They film the celebrity answering them. Then they film me asking them all over again. Then I go home!

is any of it office based?

My last office based job was the Scifi Channel. I still work for them freelance, doing movie reviews for their website. That's what I'm doing today. I'm not an office person. Being at Scifi nearly drove me bonkers. The combination of having to sit at a desk all day and office/corporate politics, which means you're not always allowed to do your job well, was just maddening. When I resigned, my boss very kindly asked if there was anything she could change to make me stay. I said, 'No.'

Do you just work for BF, or do you freelance as author/editor/etc...

See above. Since BF started, I'm done post-production sound effects and music for BBV and Reeltime Pictures (Myth Makers). I've also continued to present the Myth Makers and do other acting work. For example, I was juggling post-production of Sirens of Time with Sherlock Holmes on the London fringe. My work on Genocide Machine had to be squeezed in before I went up North to direct a bit of Noel Coward (Private Lives). All very arduous, but rewarding. I also write film reviews for Film Review magazine regularly. I'm also writing a short story for the next BBC Doctor Who short story book. Justin Richards has also asked me to submit a Who novel proposal. I'm desperate to do it, but just haven't had the time.

Was Nabil Shaban fun to work with in Second Solution?

Yes! You must have heard the stories of him dismantling his wheelchair and hitting microphone stands with it when we were doing background crowd noises. He was a really good laugh, full of funny stories. He stayed on our sofa in Peckham, you know!

Did anyone have an idea about the far reaching consequences of the Doctor's actions in this story (i.e. Solaados)

Not at all. This was cooked up later by Jim Mortimore, Gary Russell and later clarified, or made even more confusing, by me in Subterfuge.

Anything interesting you remember about Second Solution?

Jim's sledge-hammer directing techniques again. He kept saying to John Ainsworth, who was doing the computer voice on the Moon, 'No, John! More doom!!!' I think John nearly gave himself a hernia in the end. I remember Trish wasn't feeling very well during one of the recording days... I think we did two.

We recorded it in a huge drama studio at Bush House (or was it Broadcasting House? Can't remember), a studio which no longer exists. It had all sorts of screens and steps and doors etc. I kept disappearing into the little sound booth for some reason. I think I was larking about. I remember wearing shorts during the recording. It must have been summer.

Secret of Nematoda marks the introduction of the new companion, Truman Crouch. Who came up with that name?

I had a character called Mr Crouch in the original script. Bill wanted a new companion. So I wrote a scene where Mr Crouch entered the TARDIS etc. We cast Nigel, because he was so good and we all liked him, and Bill came up with the name Truman, after he was sitting in a pub with Paul Lunn and saw the brewery name, Truman.

Did Nigel fit in well, seeing as the team was already established by the time he joined the company?

Nigel did indeed fit in very well. He and I share a really stupid sense of humour. We developed a number of daft catchphrases, one of which we still mutter today on those rare occasions when we meet. He's a very enthusiastic, talented person and lots of fun. When I think of Nigel, I always remember him laughing uncontrollably or generally messing about. He was great to act with. We used to bounce off each other well, and put in little bits of improvisation. We really used to play up being the 'experienced Doctor-companion team' and we loved every minute of it. Nigel used to phone up and leave daft answerphone messages of him constantly screaming in a high pitched voice 'Doctor, Doctor, you're dead, it's the Daleks, Doctor, Doctor!' He always maintained that Truman wore a boob-tube and shorts. If you get to interview him, I'm sure he'll tell you that in all seriousness and expect you to believe him!

Had Ron Thomas had any prior experience of acting?

Ron Thomas was a university lecturer and experienced amateur actor. I went to see an amateur production of a Gilbert and Sullivan thingy. Ron's voice just stuck out. I was looking for a Posedor, and immediately thought, 'This is the man!' He was a lovely bloke too. A bit bemused by the whole experience, and slightly taken aback by some of the colourful language during rehearsals. But he was a really nice man. I used to get Xmas cards from him, but we eventually lost touch.

Secret of Nematoda was _your_ showpiece story of season three, did you enjoy having control over so many aspects of the production?

I'm not interested in control as such, I'm interested in communication. The more methods I can use to communicate, the happier I am. Writing is the first level, then comes the acting and directing. Then you finally wrap it all up with sound effects, editing and music. Although I think it's true that if you do it all yourself, you may make mistakes that aren't spotted by anyone, because there's no one else to spot them (and I'm sure Nematoda suffers from that) - but the experience of writing/directing/acting/post-production/music, although strenuous, is an absolute joy. That feeling of total creation. Shaping your story in every way possible is so incredibly rewarding. Exhausting, but rewarding. I did more or less the same thing with Sirens of Time, and that was, to misquote Woody Allen, the most fun I can have with my clothes on.

Is this story another sign of your distaste for colonial thinking or is it just a general dig at the whole human race and their habit of fixing things which are not broken.

Certainly, I'm not proud of Britain's colonial past. I think I suffer a kind of guilt about that, because, as a child, I was fascinated by warfare and, particularly, the enormous power of the British empire. As a kid, I was proud of it and quite stirred by all those red tunics and bristling bayonets. I still love war movies and military history - but on a human level, it was all so dehumanizing and downright savage. I think I picked up on themes touched on in that Solos Who story, The Mutants. Mankind, expanding into space might take its worst characteristics with it.

I think it's a definite feature of colonial behaviour to 'fix' things that weren't 'broken'.

What special effect techniques did you use?

You mean for sound effects? I think I borrowed a lot of Jim Mortimore's stuff. I used some flange and phasing pedals (meant for guitars, but rack-mounted fx processors were hellishly expensive in those days) and the trusty Rolond SH101 keyboard, and the Rogue Moog, I think. The Nematodans were the whole cast going 'New, Nem, New' and the Nematoids were me gurgling into a microphone with lots of reverb. I don't remember much else.

I did most of the music on an incredibly cheap sampler keyboard, which had a little microphone built in. We used to have hours of fun, sampling raspberries and playing tunes with them.

You make reference to one of Cornelle's Books, the Study of Tellurian Expansion. Why does the Doctor have so many copies of his/their work? (He has a book by the same author in Geopath)

Just a name I made up. I hadn't heard of Paul Cornell then. I think we added the reference to Geopath. Probably Gary did that.

Why was the title of Enclave Irrelative changed from Hallucinomatrix?

Hallucinomatrix was a reference to THE Matrix on Gallifrey. The original story involved the Master creating another Matrix, or something like that. Since we got Alan W Lear to replace those concepts with the whole Cuthbert thing, the title was no longer relevant. I remember, we had a big meeting about this, deciding what Bill should say to Alan.

Anything you remember about this story?

Barry Killerby making his second appearance as Cuthbert. It was directed by Bill's then girlfriend, Gillian Longdon, who was a lovely person and a very sensitive director. She'd taken very great care over the whole thing and was extremely supportive. Michael Wisher was having the time of his life, doing his Noel Coward and Round the Horn impersonations.

I had to redo quite a lot of the post production of this one, because I'd made some of the voices too incomprehensible. The demons remained incomprehensible, I'm afraid. A lesson learnt there!

Did you help Nigel out with the music for More than a Messiah?

I did, actually. Nigel is very talented. Like me, he's not really a musician, but he has this great ability to enhance a scene with the simplest of musical touches. When it came to the mix down, which I did, I felt he'd just missed a couple of opportunities to establish some foreboding and tension, so I added a couple of very growly undertones here and there. But 99% of the music is Nigel's.

Again, any interesting stories during the recording of this?

Nigel directed and was lots of fun. He was also very serious about it, encouraging me to really let go for the emotional stuff. I remember I actually did collapse on the floor at the end of that last scene. There was a lovely out-take of me making the same mistake over and over again, then storming out of the studio in disgust at myself. While I was out, all Nigel could do was laugh!

Do you still have the original script for Sword of Orion, involving brain implants, for this story?

The original script was called THE ULTIMATE BRAIN (not a good title, but very apt). It was a totally different story. It was inspired by an idea that Jim Mortimore put to me. Jim is a fantastic ideas person. He was always sitting me down and telling me the most fascinating plot ideas. I picked up on this one and developed it. I do have the script somewhere. But don't ask me where. I'm not very organised. It wasn't actually to do with brain implants, it was to do with an intergalactic politician who had a tumor in his brain, which had altered the way he thought. He suddenly became a man of peace... and this simplicity made it possible for him to activate something the Cybermen were after. I'll say no more, because it's an idea I want to re-develop at some point.

Did you feel dismay when Bill said he wanted an action story instead of another character story?

Bill's recollections are fairly spot-on here. I really loved ULTIMATE BRAIN. So did Jim. We *were* dismayed when Bill didn't like it. But, as he pointed out, it wasn't that he didn't like it, it just didn't fit the brief. He'd planned the last section of season 3 very carefully, with regard to the appearing and disappearing of Ria and Truman and the emergence of the whole Sargol thing. We had lots of meetings about it, and Bill was very definite about what he wanted. And in this slot, he wanted space opera. He wanted something more straightforward. ULTIMATE BRAIN was not straightforward. It was full of character and tragedy and spookiness.

Did you really write this play thinking it would make a classic, or did you think the opposite?

I have joked since that I wrote Sword of Orion in a spiteful way. You know, 'You want it obvious? Ok, here it is!!!' It wasn't quite like that; but I certainly decided to use all the cliches. The two funny guys on the bridge, the bumps in the dark. The rogue Cyberman. All that. I remember writing it very quickly and being a little infuriated that once I'd decided to be obvious and follow all the classic scifi/Who cliches, the story really came to life and almost told itself!

When I was doing post-production, I thought the play was as boring as hell. I said to Jim, 'You've got to save this with spooky music'. It was just like Alien, nothing happened for the first half. But when Jim put on all that marvellous, low, unnerving music, also using distorted vocals, the whole thing came to life.

Did you enjoy playing a Cyberman?

It was 'excellent'. I love being monsters.

Who wrote most of the music for Sword of Orion, you or Jim?

Jim did all the music. However, I'd done an early trailer for the story, in which I'd done some very basic music on the Rogue Moog monophonic keyboard. Jim actually picked out the notes I used and built on that, coming up with something almost completely different in the end. His use of the old Cyber theme and the new one was inspired.

What can you tell us about the Big Finish production of this play?

Not too much at the moment, but I'll have a go. Which Doctor/Companion will it be No news

Will it be a direct copy of the produced plot?

The plot will be very similar, because its simplicity was its strength. This is unusual for me. I rarely want to just redo what I've produced before, but I think Sword will be an exception. I've changed quite a lot of peripheral stuff. Once I got to work on it again, I realized there were all sorts of little plot holes. I've also developed some of the characters more. Grash is not so OOT now.

How much of the haunting music will be the same?

It's more than likely that I will do the music. For copyright reasons I won't be able to steal those Cyber themes the way Jim did so brilliantly, but I'm intending that it will have that Sword feel that we all remember and love. I can't wait, actually.

Will you include elements from the unproduced original script?

As you now know, the original script wasn't Sword of Orion, so no.

When will it take place, in terms of Earthshock,Tomb, Attack etc...

No idea. I just write 'em and leave Gary Russell to sort that out. Seriously though, I think it's definitely after Tomb, because they mention that the Star Destroyer was launched from Telos when the Cyber race went into hibernation. That was in the original too.

Did you think Carny was an interesting development for the Doctor?

I didn't much like Carny. I thought it was all a bit shapeless and ridiculous. We had a lot of fun in the studio, I remember. Bill directed and gave us loads of time to rehearse. He was really getting in to the directing thing. I thought the dialogue was overwritten and overstated.

Did you think Planet of Lies was a good story?

Jim came up with the plotline for Planet of Lies and, characteristically, it was a fantastic yarn. He then handed the plot to Alan Lear who did his magic on it. Both of them gave it this really epic feel. However, that whole bashing the eye of harmony thing... I'm not sure how much sense it makes.

Also, Alan's Dalek dialogue was terrible. They sounded like 18th century gentlemen, so I rewrote that. And I rewrote some of the Doctor and Truman scenes, which I thought were a bit ponderous.

Who do you think wiped out the Timelords, as it wasn't the Daleks?

I can't remember, I'm afraid. I suppose I've always thought it was the Daleks... but you're right, it wasn't, was it? No idea.

Did you think that the AV's had finished when you recorded this one?

Not at all. I think Bill and I had a feeling that something had to change. He wanted me to step down as the Doctor, which took me a bit by surprise. I'd actually been thinking that Gary could take over as producer. I think I was relatively receptive to the idea of a new Doctor, but we couldn't think of anyone else stupid enough to devote all their time to doing it!

But no, I always thought there would be a fourth season. Bill and I had started work, with Jim, on the whole Burnout idea, but I was very dubious about how the audience would receive something that wasn't Doctor Who. I thought it could only work in conjunction with Doctor Who releases. Bill was a bit fed up of Doctor Who and wanted to do other things. I always felt that he was never really that interested in Doctor Who, more in drama generally and getting projects going. He's very good at that.

Can you give a basic plot outline of Burnout?

Nope. But I can tell you it was set in a kind of Blade Runner world and it involved people having their brains plugged into computers. It was very William Gibson Cyberpunk stuff. There were these people called Cortex Generators. I don't know whether Jim nicked any of these ideas from Gibson or whether it was just a huge coincidence. Jim wrote the plot (scribbled on a bit of paper) and I wrote scripts for the first two episodes.

How much of Burnout was recorded, released?

I think Bill recorded the first episode while I was away in Exeter doing some theatre work. He got a good cast together (John Wadmore, Michael Wisher, Nabil Shaban... and other good AV regulars). Many years later, Bill did an edit of Burn-out, but it was a bit rough and, like his Scarecrow City edit, was only done as a sort of learning exercise, I think.

What aspects of the first episode where you unhappy with?

I wanted it to be dark and moody and for the central character (Ki'Gan, played by John Wadmore) to be mean, moody and uncommunicative. To my mind, Bill made it all sound very bright and cheerful and very Radio 4. John's character came across as a smug, wisecracking git. I hated it. I asked him why he'd played the part so badly. Why hadn't he made him moody and grumpy? He said he'd done that, but Bill seemed to have misunderstood it for John not trying very hard, so had kept at him to make the character more witty and cheerful. Since the part had been written as very hard and sneering, the brightening of it in performance terms made Ki'Gan just sound like a smart arse!

And here is a question from Rob Mammone... Can Nick explain why he has this seeming compulsion to be involved in every facet of production he is involved with, especially with the AV's. Did he believe he knew the AV's better than anyone else, or was it a lack of resources coupled with speed and availability?

I think I've tackled this above, in one of my earlier answers. However, here are some other thoughts.

The term 'seeming compulsion' seems a little hostile. You do what you have the ability to do, and you're lucky if you get the chance to do it. I was lucky. AV gave me the chance to develop a lot of 'production' and editing skills I'd been pootling around at as a kid. Jim and Nick (Layton) taught me a lot there. And, of course, it's thanks to Bill that the whole thing got started and I got those opportunities in the first place.

I can't tell you how exciting it is, for me (and maybe I'm just weird), actually to put together every second of the final product. Shape every sound, edit every scene to its optimum pacing. It's often laborious and soul destroying, but sometimes it's fantastic!

The disadvantage, as I've said, of being 'in control' of every part of the production is that you may miss something that someone else with an outside perspective may spot. With Big Finish, I get that outside perspective from Gary and Jason. In AV, Bill used to comment on my scripts quite a lot.

But essentially, you've hit the nail on the head when you say it was lack of resources coupled with speed and availability that meant I was often doing everything. It's not like there was a huge queue of people squabbling over doing the production work on AV. I just got on with whatever was thrown my way. A great way to practise.

The advantage of being 'in control' of every part of the production is that you add layers of meaning, subtlety and precision that, with a tight schedule, can get missed or overlooked if your writer, director and post-production people are all different. It gives you the chance to create your own, unique, vision. If you get it wrong, it's just self-indulgent nonsense. If you get it anywhere near right, I don't think there's anything stronger in storytelling terms. I used to try to get it right. On Vilgreth, for example, I definitely think, on balance, that it was wrong. Mutant Phase, although well liked by our audience, was, I think, on balance, a bit of a dog's dinner which really didn't make much sense. The others, I was more happy with.

I liked the sound of that Dalek Empire CGI thingy

Dalek thing was great. Met the guy who did the animation last night and congratulated him. I did the music and sound for it, so have watched it approximately 3 million times!

For season four, did you all feel like making a new start, with the theme, covers etc...

Yes, Gary did. He wanted to make it specifically different: the umbrella story, the cover design, the music, the one-word titles. The concept of the covers was Gary's (the idea of the one element from the story) with lots of practical and design input from Jim Mortimore (who was a printer). I thought the concept was too limiting, artistically, but then I'm a bit of an anarchist and Gary usually wants everything uniform and regimented. He has all his videos in order on his shelves, you know. I don't. In fact, I deliberately keep them out of order just to annoy him when he comes round for tea!

Did you have problems getting hold of so many female leads for Deadfall?

Ah... the concept of getting hold of females. I suppose it was a bit daunting. Berni and Lorraine were old friends of mine from drama school. Berni got her friend Amanda (who was the real find here, brilliant!) involved. Then there was Heather, my girlfriend at the time, and that other woman whose name escapes me. That girl was a stroppy amateur. It was very difficult to get her to do anything. She was totally lacking in enthusiasm and didn't really want to be there. She ended up sounding rather good though, didn't she?

Amanda Hurwitz was essentially the lead for Deadfall, what is that accent, and who is she?

that's an Irish accent... I think she's a Northern Irish girl. You can probably look her up on the Spotlight website. As I said, she was a friend of Berni's and a great actress.

You edited and directed this one, did you find Gary's script translated well to audio?

I seem to remember I made quite a few changes to Gary's script. Certainly, I totally rewrote the Dalek dialogue. Gary had written a line, which he, John Ainsworth and I still joke about: 'We must examine her workings' when they were talking about cutting Ria open. I changed it to 'We must analyse her physiology'! I also found some of the bitching between the girls a bit too playground-ish, so I changed some of that. There was also a lot of gay stuff that I remember being very uncomfortable with in a Doctor Who story. I think a lot of the dialogue kept giving heavy hints. I remember thinking, 'Oh, just say it, don't keep hinting, hinting, hinting for 90 minutes'. So I cut the hinting right down, chickening out of making it overt. There was some reference to pink triangles. I think I cut that.

What sort of equipment did you use for the music on this?

Keyboards borrowed from Jim Mortimore. I think the main thing was a Prophet keyboard (can't remember the number... Pro 6?), which was a polyphonic analogue thingy with lots of knobs on! It had some lovely, rich sounds. I have a feeling the trusty Roland SH101 assisted. It was my first 'score' on a proper keyboard! I was quite daunted.

In Requiem, what was Nigel Peever like to work with?

I seem to remember he was great. He's a real pro, rather like a younger version of Michael Wisher. Knows what he's doing and just gets on with it.

Was Requiem the last one Bill was involved in?

I think Bill was meant to direct it; but he moaned and moaned about the script. Gary loved the script. I thought it was... ok. Bill wanted to make some changes to the script which, I seem to remember, the rest of us thought were completely bizarre and inappropriate. I'm afraid I can't remember what they are, but it was something to do with a character being an android. So Bill was only involved in getting the studio at the BBC for us. After that, he sent us a slightly sad letter, saying he no longer wanted to be involved. That left us with a huge problem about finding studios.

Bill was going to direct something in season 4, but he wanted to tamper with the script. I think it was Requiem. Gary wouldn't let him, so he pulled out. He said he'd continue to arrange studios for us, but soon lost interest and started doing Doctor Who plays (I think there was more than one) with the BBC's amateur dramatics society. I heard a bit of one once, but it wasn't very good.

Another reason for his parting company with AV was that he had this crazy idea of recording the plays like an old-fashioned BBC job... as live, with all the sound fx and music being fed in along with the acting. We just thought this was mad.

Did you ask Andy Lane to put more tea references in, or was it part of the script guidelines by that point?

I think Andy just put the tea in. I think. He must have listened to our other plays.

Did you discuss, with Andy, the motivations behind the crew of the Conglomerate ship, seeing as you created the concept of Conglomerate?

No. I didn't discuss anything with Andy, as I remember. I don't think he came to the recording. I remember thinking the Conglomerate stuff was fine. It was nice to see someone picking up on one of my concepts.

In Requiem you have a robot in a character role, and not the typical usage as a 'monster'. Did you ever think about exploring more storylines about artifical lifeforms as part of society(c.f. Asimov), or did you (as a team) usually reserve robots for the more menacing 'monster-of-the-week'?

Well, Sword of Orion fits the bill, if you think about it. The whole Diva thing. That was very much in the flavour of Blade Runner... the idea of human beings rejecting androids and persecuting them. I thought, What if the androids got organized? The answer was, The Orion War!

Cuddlesome had a very 'Auton' feel about it, was that your influence?

Terror of the Autons, you mean. That was all entirely Nigel. Lovely moments and scenes in that script, but the logic of the plot doesn't really hold up very well. John Ainsworth and I often joke about that.

Do you have any ideas as to how the Doctor saved Askran, in the months after this story. We already heard about his nefarious dealings with the underbelly of time-lord society?

Nigel liked to keep this vague. We just talked about *whether* the Doctor went back and saved Askran, rather than *how* he did it!

What was your inspiration for Endurance?

John Ainsworth told me about HP Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, saying that it was clearly the inspiration for the Silurians and Sea Devils. He wanted us to do a story like this, but couldn't be bothered to write it. So I said I'd do it. I didn't read the book, but John had quite a bit of input into the script.

How did you recreate the sounds on the boat?

What an odd question? Have you been talking to John Ainsworth, by any chance? You may be referring to a little sound effects session he and I had when we pretended to be the entire crew drowning and opening the crates on the ice. I remember John hammering a bedpost with a chisel, muttering 'Right mate, over 'ere!' . It was very difficult to keep a straight face! We were just throwing tools around and breaking up bits of wood, having a ball and making a terrible mess. I remember the ship's bell was Gary Russell's doorbell (the wind-up kind) slowed down.

What effect did you use to create the Silurian voices?

Oh, what a trauma that was. Alistair Lock had just contacted us. I told him of the Silurian voice problem; that we wanted to do the original ones, but couldn't figure out how they did it. Alistair listened to the originals and said, 'Oh yes, ring modulation' - and he was right. However, we couldn't get his ring modulator to work at the right frequency... and I think so much of the voice was down to Peter Halliday's delivery. So we created our own effect, with lots of ring modulation and pitch bending. We were definitely not going to do those awful voices from Warriors of the Deep!

To what extent did John help you with the script for this?

I would go to John with specific problems. I was worried about the Silurians speaking English, for example. God knows why. He told me to ignore that problem, as Doctor Who always did! I think the problem stemmed from having the Silurian chanting some ancient prayer in the early part of the story.

You did the music and editing for Mythos, did you think that the play suffered because Gary was absent during the production?

That was nothing to do with it. It suffered because the script was terrible and needed far more rewriting or binning. John and I persisted because we didn't want to upset Jim Mortimore, who was in Bristol. We suggested a load of changes and Jim just replied with 'yes!' written next to them all, but hadn't bothered to do any of them. So John and I sat down on a number of occasions to try to put the thing right. We only partially succeeded. Then Jim started the post production and gave up, although he did some great music, which I used. Then Nigel Fairs took over some of the music... then gave up. So then I took over. So the whole thing is a bit of a mish-mash of styles. The actors really threw themselves into it, though. John Wadmore still jokes about how terrible he thought it was.

Did you have any input into 'Truman's excellent adventure'?

No. I thought it was rubbish.

You wrote and directed Subterfuge, had you got a more solid idea of who Justyce was by this point?

John and I really hammered out who and what Justyce was at this point. The truth is that we kept explaining it to Gary, he seemed to understand, then at some later point, we'd realize he hadn't understood at all. The three of us used to laugh about it a lot. We kept having to drag Gary back to the concept. It was very funny. I think Gary felt a bit put-upon, but John and I had really worked it all out. Far too complex, of course!

Did Peter Miles enjoy himself during the recording of Geopath?

I think Peter Miles always enjoys himself.

Did Stephen Bowkett approach the team, or was it the other way around?

I think he sent the script in. That's more Gary's territory. I have to admit that I had some issues with that script. Scenes too long, mainly. I changed that in post production, flipping between scenes but cutting them in two. I also restructured the beginning, which just didn't make sense.

With Justyce you have a low key finale to a large story arc, did any other plot lines get discussed (Ouija boards for example...)

You're far too knowing. Someone is feeding you with this info, aren't they? Yes, Gary wanted to do a story about Ouija boards, even though it had nothing to do with Justyce. So he soon gave up on that. Then he wrote a Justyce script. A tense time. John and I had a lot of criticisms of it and wrote them all over the script. I think we were quite tactless. We didn't mean to be, but we were. Gary got very offended and abandoned the script. I then wrote a version which died on the page. After discussing it with John, I started again. I remember the starting point being 'something buried', which John felt was always a good, mysterious basis for a story. I think I came up with the concept of the Doctor being marooned for a long time. I liked that.

But I don't think it was low key at all. I thought it was all rather noisy and dramatic.

How do you spell 'JAR - STEESS'?

No idea. Can't remember. That was a bit embarrassing, wasn't it? All a bit too complex. My fault.

Did Nigel Fairs have any involvement during the recording of Justyce?

I don't think so.

Did you have any script ideas for the fifth season, what were they called, and can you give a basic outline.

I was writing a Zygon story called 'Spawn of the Beast', which I was really enjoying. For some time, we were definitely going to do a fifth season, but I think the enthusiasm wasn't there because we couldn't really agree on anything. We had this idea for a companion who had no personality (an alien who had been subjected to psychological torture and had been left an empty shell). S/he would try on new personalities for each story. I thought it was a great idea.

But, you know, I can't really remember when or if we ever said, 'No, we're just not going to do this, are we?' It just faded away as our lives progressed. Visual Imagination had a lot to do with it, for me. The work was terribly demanding and stressful and left me too exhausted to do anything else. Then I left VI and immediately did loads of work with Bill, because he was paying... which was nice.

Were you happy to finish at season four?

In retrospect, yes. Now we're doing it for real, of course, which is great!

Were you involved with Nigel's offshoot 'Pisces' series of plays?

Yes, I played 'Darkness'. A kind of constipated version of Satan. I remember I recorded lines for a lot of the plays in one go and Nigel edited them in.

Over all four seasons what would you say were the highlights for you.

Many of them... Learning how to do editing. Doing the Daleks in Mutant Phase. Finding out about keyboards and music (thanks, Jim!). The Secret of Nematoda (the best experience up to that point). Speaking dialogue written by Nigel Fairs. Playing the Doctor... great fun.

Any favourite plays?

Of mine, I think Nematoda and Sword of Orion worked the best. I really loved doing More than a Messiah. Nigel's dialogue was always great and he was such fun to work with. Cloud of Fear and Minuet in Hell were very strong too.

Immodestly, I think we really hit the nail on the head with Sword of Orion. So, thanks to Bill for telling me to write it, and thanks to Jim Mortimore for that superb music. Sword of Orion without that music would be unrecognizable and simply not very good.

Any that make you cringe?

Er, Space Wail, Connection 13, Trilexia Threat, Blood Circuit, Mythos. For one reason or another, those stories really just don't come together for me. They're sort of... messy and unfocused.

When did DWM take publicity shots of you and Heather?

Those shots were not done by DWM. Stephen Payne did them for us. They were simply for the sake of publicizing the plays at conventions. I don't remember when it was done. Early 1990s.

Did Paul Lunn's costume for your Doctor match your perception of the character. (i.e. braiding, toothbrush, ? buttons, kettle badge)

Pretty well, although I think it suffered from the JNT uniform concept a little. The tooth brush came from an illustration Nick Layton did for the original Time Ravagers cover. Paul's concept was for me to look like a guy returning from an all-night party in the 1920s. I still have the jacket!

Who made Heather's costume?

That was all from her bizarre wardrobe!

Did you have much input into the DWM comic strips featuring your Doctor?

None at all. For the second one, Gary Gillat came round and took pics of me.

Do you feel that the two 'Fred' plays were a continuation from the end of the AVs?

That's what Bill wanted. In many ways, I was very uncomfortable doing them. But this was when I thought there was no hope of the BBC doing or licensing new Who audio. Bill was worried about getting sued by the BBC, so he wanted to further distance his 'Who Clone' products by casting someone who hadn't been the Doctor (officially)... Me! I was very reluctant, but Bill was relentless and persuasive. I was doing Children In Need with him at the time. He'd given me a lot of very well paid work on that (for which I was and am extremely grateful) and consequently I felt it was almost ungrateful for me to say no. I kind of felt obliged. He would phone me very early in the morning (he was doing Breakfast TV editing), when he knew I wasn't yet up, and give me a psychological battering. He was very determined. He *is* very determined. It's his great strength; but it's a bit wearing at 7am! He told me to write Doctor Who, but find some clever way of making it lawyer-proof!

Did you enjoy making Cyber-Hunt?

Yes. It was great fun. Bill did the recording and I directed. We worked very well together. Bill has a very good ear for picking up on stuff that is monotonous and needs a change of pace. He was also very good at suggesting extra lines so that certain characters were more obviously in a scene from the beginning. It's a common fault with audio writers that they forget that a character is invisible if they don't speak.

To what extent were the original team involved? (Bill, John, Alistair etc...)

Just Bill and me. I did the post-prod editing and Harvey Summers did the music. It overran a little, which Bill really moaned and moaned about (quite rightly), so there are some cut scenes... somewhere!

What did you think of Vital Signs?

A very over-wordy script and terrible post-production work. I gave up listening to it because it was so... mediocre. I did it because I'd promised Bill I would. The Doctor Who plays had arrived in the meantime, and perhaps it would have been wiser not to do Vital Signs; but a promise is a promise. I enjoyed the studio session though, because I just turned up and did my lines. I had great fun being just an 'act-tor, darling!' and not having to worry about anything else.

more to come...
email me any questions you might have for Nick