Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Writing the 5th Doctor

Each Doctor is unique. No two ways about it. There are those that say you can write the lines and that they can be said by any incarnation, but I don't subscribe to that theory. The trick is to think of the actor's performance, think of the little inflections in their speech and the phrasing of what they're saying.

For example, to use a stock phrase from a Doctor, the 'old chap' pretty much belongs to the Third. Ok, so it may sit slightly well with the Fourth, but it's something that to my mind is distinctly Pertwee. Add to that the rub of the neck, the 'Hai!', and the tendency to suddenly get snapy with those around him (ok, so the last one is a bit more generic, but it works well for the Third Doctor in particular).

That's why the Fifth Doctor can be slightly tricky. I don't think he has the obvious mannerisms of Baker or Pertwee (or even Troughton for that matter), so it's hard to construct his character in a completely obvious manner. I've tried to convey it in his enthusiasm for various elements, which can be seen in his speech. He has no sonic screwdriver, so he is, as the Tenth Doctor put it so well "mostly hands free", though maybe not quite "saving the universe with a kettle and some string!". He does rely on his wits though, and I think that's what's important about his character in particular. He needs to be shown to think. He's an idea man (ok, so they all are, but he is more obviously so), and he should be shown to be thinking, often just coming to a conclusion a couple of steps before other characters (and then usefully explaining it to them).

That said, he is good fun to write. It's companions that can be trickier - especially when it's any more than 2! I was originally going to write for Tegan and Nyssa, and even started writing a completely different story beginning with them both featured (which I may post as an 'extra' at some point should anyone be interested).

Right, back to this first draft.

The Doctor's busily figuring it all out, and he's just about to explain it to me...

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