Sunday, 5 November 2017

Articles Welcome to Issue 52 - WATNOW? Cyberwoman

Issue 52

WATNOW: Cyberwoman

Contents Guide

Where Are They Now? Cyberwoman

Big Finish Reviews+
The Behemoth

The Crown

Frank Cottrell Boyce
Gareth David-Lloyd

(Torchwood) Reviews
Aliens Among Us, part 2 – Tony J Fyler

Who Reviews
The Taking of Chelsea 426 – DJ Forrest
The Eyeless – DJ Forrest
The Ice Warriors – Jeffrey Zyra
The Great Detective (minisode) – Tony J Fyler
The Whoniverse Round-Up
Good Omens
Call of Duty: WWII – Nazi Zombies
Black River Meadow

Editor’s Note

Hi everyone, welcome to Issue 52, and boy do we have a lot to share with you this month! Not only do we have our regular reviews and news updates, we also have two excellent interviews too, from children’s novelist and screenwriter – Frank Cottrell Boyce, talking books, films and Doctor Who, we also have Gareth David-Lloyd, talking passionately about his new project, and about his new role as director, and writer for not just Black River Meadow, Be My Head, but also for Big Finish. Do please check these out!

We’ll bring Mitchell back next month – as I’m having a little trouble finding my feet for this one, due to the fact, I seem to have mislaid the Chapter somewhere and have to try and remember what I wrote 3 years ago. Yeah, difficult!

So, tempted as I am to continue wittering on, I feel, you’re as keen as I am to visit the Interview section and read and comment to your heart’s content.

Tony’s articles for Who Reviews, Torchwood Reviews and Big Finish Reviews will be added later on in the week.

Croeso i Issue 52: Cyberwoman


Articles Where Are They Now? Cyberwoman by DJ Forrest

Where Are They Now?

Cyberwoman Cast

The ultimate betrayal, using Torchwood Three, using Jack and the team, sneaking in a Cyber conversion unit, a Cyber girlfriend, bluffing them all, with his butler approach, his quiet demeanour. Who would have thought that mild mannered Ianto Jones, hid a deep and dark secret in the Torchwood basement?

While Jack and the team head out for a few drinks, Ianto awaits the arrival of one Dr Tanizaki, to fix his girlfriend and make her as near human as possible, but things in the Frankenstein workshop fail, because once a cyber, always a cyber.

That old adage that Love is Blind, rings true, as Ianto defies all logic and only wants his lover back. Lisa. How could he refuse her the life they used to have? Those picnics and camping, where dogs pissed on their tent, but unrequited love, smitten all the things that love is, can’t compare with how wrong his decisions were in keeping Lisa quiet from the rest of his team.

Where are they now? What roles do they play? Are they still acting? How much have they altered after ten or so years? Sometimes, some change so much that you can’t quite believe they are the same person, whereas others, who we see regularly on Twitter, social media in general, or on our television screens, barely change at all.

Burn Gorman

Dr Owen Harper

‘Look, I’ve shared cars with women before and I know what’ll happen. There’ll be an emergency. All raring to go, I jump in, what do I find? Seat’s in the wrong position, the rear view mirror’s out of line and the steering wheel’s in my crotch. In the time it takes to sort it all out, aliens will have taken Newport.’

Owen Harper had a dry wit, that was so cutting it's surprising he didn't injure himself. The thing with Owen however, was that, when you chipped away at the outer layer, his shield he protected himself by, you discovered a man with incredible emotions, and one that ideally only needed one woman to love - and yet, would shag anything with a pulse, just to fill the emptiness in his life.

Losing your wife to what you had initially believed to be a brain tumour but was in fact an alien parasite living on her brain, must have been one hell of a thing to deal with. And that alone would be enough to throw up the defences, and throw sarcastic undertones at anyone he met, blocking out his grief with brief shags in bars, with women he'd lured with alien body sprays.

Since Owen was killed off at the end of Series 2, Burn Gorman has been extremely busy, from playing one off roles such as Hindley in Wuthering Heights, PC Renwick in Cemetery Junction, and Reverend Marley in Lark Rise to Candleford, to playing series characters such as Richard Gates in The Runaway and Thomas Kish in The Hour, to providing additional voices in Star Wars: The Old Republic video game in 2011, but it’s his well-known roles, that he's most remembered for. Characters you want to hate because of how evil they are, but deep down inside you know you won't, because it's Burn Gorman, and you can't help but watch, and admire, and loathe, but love, despite everything. But then, Burn Gorman's trademark roles are those of cold, devious bastards.

Such as Karl Tanner in 2014, in Game of Thrones which he played for all of 4 episodes, but this is Game of Thrones, and often you're lucky to survive beyond two, or three. A year earlier he played Herman Gottlieb in Pacific Rim, and reprises the role in the sequel, Uprising next year (2018). Herman, I might add, isn’t a cold devious b*stard, but he is a little annoying.

In 2012, I was surprised to find Burn in The Dark Knight Rises, as yet again, a bit of a bad guy, known as Stryver, who played a businessman working with the Bane, although perhaps not pally with the Bane, given the fierceness of the man behind the mask.

In 2015, Burn played Detective Sergeant William Blore in the three part Agatha Christie story ‘And Then There Were None’, where a group of people were invited to stay on an island as guests, but each held a terrible secret which over the period of the three episodes came out. Of course, each one suffered at the hands of another and the killer remained anonymous till the very end. It was compelling viewing.

I think his character in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day wasn't as bad as all other roles he's played since or before this film, but it was only a small role - one blink and youd missed it.

What has been exciting since Big Finish took up the reins of Torchwood however, is that Owen is back, and long may the old stories play out, every now and then.

Caroline Chikezie

‘Lisa Hallett’

‘Run! We all ran!’

Ianto’s cybernetic girlfriend seemed at home in her basement, where given any person willing to cure her, could be given an upgrade by way of a thank you. Of course, unlike Ianto and the team, Lisa is far from cured, and as said before, once a cyber…. can only think like one. The team have to work together in order to prevent the Cyberwoman exiting the building.

Lisa, having found a way of transplanting her brain into another, in a bid to become human, is gunned down when her ideas of loving Ianto are screwed up, by the whole transplant idea. The pizza girl is not Lisa. Ianto can only mourn the loss of the woman he fell in love with, and not what she has now become.

Since Torchwood, Caroline’s roles moved to the big screen, often with a sci fi theme, apart from The Sweeney, which I still find one heck of an awesome role, and she wasn’t in there pushing paper – no, Caroline’s role was part of the Flying Squad, as DC Kara Clarke – what a kick ass performance.

Caroline returned to television and appeared in two episodes of Casualty as two different characters with a good thirteen years apart. In 2013, played Dr Retentive in CBBC M.I. High, as Zelda in Everly, Stevie Shields for Doctors, Queen Tamlin in The Shannara Chronicles episode Druid this year (2017), and The Siren in Mayhem. Has just completed a film short A Mother’s Journey, playing Lola Ogunwole.

Bethan Walker

‘Alice – Pizza delivery girl’

‘You always said you didn't love me for what I looked like. Last time you said that, it was a Saturday. We were hungover. You made cheese toasties, and moaned I hadn't descaled my kettle. That night, we camped on a beach in Brittany. It got so freezing we wore our coats and shared one sleeping bag. When we woke up the next morning, a dog was pissing on our tent. Hold me, Ianto. I need you to hold me. I need you to tell me it's all right.’

Alice was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, when she entered the Hub with Ianto’s pizza order that night. When Ianto returns to the basement to deal with Lisa, he discovers the true horror. Lisa has transplanted her brain into the pizza girl’s in a bid to become human.

Bethan Walker is no stranger to the Whoniverse, as she voiced Aranda in Big Finish audio story White Ghosts, and voiced Javon, Pyrrha and Queen Antigone in Psychodrome, including Kiani in The Eleven – all for Doctor Who stories.

There are large gaps in her television and film credits, but this was easily explained as I delved further discovering her theatre performances in Still Life with Figs and Acanthus Flowers with the Menagerie Theatre Company, including Forgive Our Paranoia. King James Bible, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Timon of Athens at Shakespeare’s Globe, Beauty and the Beast for Sherman Theatre, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Birmingham Rep/West Yorkshire Playhouse, Cinderella at Watford Palace Theatre, Into the Wall with RSC/Dust House, The Winter’s Tale with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In 2014 Bethan played The Contractor’s Secretary in The London Firm. Was the voice of Alisaie in Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood video game in 2017, and played Sister Bernadine in Heretiks which is currently in Post Production, and will be released in 2018.

Togo Igawa

‘Dr Tanizaki’

‘Some elements have been augmented. Some are still human. Sensory capacity, for instance. Her breathing and hearing appears completely cybernetic. And yet there's also bare flesh. Amazing. Perhaps fifty five percent augmentation with forty five percent awaiting completion. Do you think? Or perhaps, maybe sixty forty. It's fascinating.’

Togo Igawa trained to be an actor in Japan with The Haiyuza Theatre Company Acting School and Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music. He has worked mostly in British films and television. He was born in 1946, in Sasazuka, Tokyo, Japan. He has been acting since 1979 in many television programmes including Gems, Never the Twain, Small World, Forever Green, The Ginger Tree, Chancer, Wilt, Murder Most Horrid, Lovejoy, Class Act, Bugs, Drop the Dead Donkey, Thief Takers, The Tribe, Topsy Turvy, Karaoke.

Since Torchwood, Togo has appeared in Primeval in 2008 as Mr Nagata, The Day of the Kamikaze, a film documentary as Admiral Matome Ugaki. As Hideyoshi Toyotomi in Heroes and Villains, a television documentary in the episode Shogun. In the series Robotboy from 2006 – 2008 played the voice of Professor Moshimo for 16 episodes. 2008 was a busy year for Togo with appearances in several television programmes, including The IT Crowd, one of those annoying programmes that you still find yourself watching. When Togo joined Thomas the Tank and Friends, well, he was certainly busy as the little train Hiro, with videos left right and centre, and voice credits everywhere from 2009 – present (2017). Aside from Thomas the Tank, Togo has also appeared as Professor Yahida in That Mitchell and Webb Look in 2010. In the series Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist played two characters in 2014, Gôtetsu and Gôma. In the series Archer played Kintaru Sato in 2015. In the Amazing World of Gumball, played the Narrator and Mr Yoshida for 2 episodes in the same year.

In 2017, you might have been surprised seeing Togo in Doctor Who episode, The Pyramid at the End of the World, as the Secretary General, I know I was. This year, he was also in Doctors, the afternoon television series about a busy GP practice in the UK. He played Akio Tanaka for the episode Sticky Butterfly.

His film credits include Coded Hostile in 1989 as Captain Chun, Some Other Spring in 1991 as Yamada, Yamada ga machi ni yatte kita in 1993 as Isono, Dirty Old Town in 1995 as a Japanese Waiter, Murphy’s Law in 2001 as Fuji, Memoirs of a Geisha as Tanaka in 2005. Look out for Togo in Star Wars’ latest story: The Last Jedi out in December, he plays the Resistance Bridge Officer. In 47 Ronin he played Tengu Lord in 2013.

His video game credits include Urban Chaos in 1999, Shogun: Total War the following year. Genji: Dawn of the Samurai in 2005, Perfect Dark Zero in the same year as Zhang Li. Since Torchwood Togo has voiced for Medieval II: Total War, and Genji: Days of the Blade as the voice of Benkei and Nether Genji Warrior B both in 2006. 2008 played voice of Colonel Lee in Warhead. Was the narrator and voice of Master in Mini Ninjas in 2009. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was the voice of Watanabe in 2010. Total War: Shogun 2 as Narrator and Generals in 2011, and in 2012 in the new game Fall of the Samurai presumably in the same role. Voiced Jiro in Payday 2 in 2013. He played voice of Jake Hama in The Secret World: Issue 10 – Nightmares in the Dream Palace in 2014.

Did you know, Togo became the first Japanese actor to become a member of the RSC in 1986.

Gareth David-Lloyd

‘Ianto Jones’

‘Like you care. I clear up your shit. No questions asked and that's the way you like it. When did you last ask me anything about my life? Her name's Lisa. She's my girlfriend...
Torchwood exists to destroy alien threats. Why would I tell you about her?’

Gareth played Ianto for 3 seasons of Torchwood from 2006 - 2009, till Jack forgot to bring along gas masks to save them both, or get his darn VM fixed and teleport them out of there.

Since Torchwood, Gareth has appeared in many different television and web dramas, from Caerdydd, Girl Number 9, The Bill, Warehouse 13, Casimir Effect and Holby City, along with his recurrences in Twisted Showcase episodes, Payback, Peter and Paul and his latest, Be My Head. He's also appeared in three episodes of Waterloo Road as Rob Hutchinson in 2015, was the voice of Solas in Dragon Age: Inquisition - Trespasser video game, which isn't the first time he's provided his voice for a video game, as back in 2011, he provided the voice of Adam Hale in Red Faction Armageddon

In 2015, Gareth played the role of Jacob Fitts for the zombie horror film I Am Alone written and produced by Robert Palmer and Michael Weiss who we've interviewed in the past. Although not out on release yet in the UK, we do hope the DVD will eventually make its way to us.

Gareth has also narrated Enoch the Traveler for the audio drama mini series written by Lady Soliloque also in 2015.

This year, 2017, Gareth embarks on a new project, Black River Meadow which will begin as a web series, and with enough funding, and success, will hopefully become a television series. Copy and paste this link and give as much as you can for this brilliant new project.

We wish Gareth and his team the very best of luck with this.

Gareth has also written a Big Finish Torchwood story which is out in 2018 and develops his relationship with Yvonne Hartman at Torchwood One, but to find out more about this and another possible story, do please read our interview with Gareth. 

Connections The Crown by DJ Forrest

DW & TW Connections

The Crown

2016 – present

In 2016, Netflix introduced us to a wonderful insight into the life of Queen Elizabeth II, from the time she was a young princess, to her marriage to Philip Mountbatten, and her role as our Royal Monarch, the Queen. It starred Matt Smith as Prince Philip, whose character I felt quite sorry for, in the fact that he’d given up so much for the Queen and the royal order, by which the House of Commons seemed to rule quite heavily in – of what was the ‘done thing’ back then. It’s probably quite understandable then, that Philip strayed a few times, although that doesn’t come to light until the second series of this wonderful drama. Claire Foy, plays the Queen, and she’s absolutely outstanding in her role. The actress who played her sister, Margaret, is uncannily like the real princess.

Naturally, my Doctor Who eyes were spotting quite a few of the cast of the show, but I was surprised at just how many more were in the series, than I’d first thought. Did you see them all?

Of course, as the show is likely to continue for another few seasons, and I’ve only listed those up to 2017, I may need to update this as time goes on.

But for now,


Matt Smith played Philip, Duke of Edinburgh for 14 episodes from 2016-2017. Played the 11th Doctor from 2010 - 2014 for 54 episodes.

Nicholas Rowe played Jock Colville for 9 episodes in 2016. Was the voice of Rivesh Mantilax in Doctor Who: Dreamland in 2009 for 5 of the 6 episodes.

Pip Torrens played my least favourite character Tommy Lascelles for 9 episodes in 2016. Played Rocastle in Doctor Who episodes, The Family of Blood and Human Nature in 2007.

Jonathan Newth played Page at Buckingham Palace for 4 episodes in 2016. Played Orfe in Doctor Who story Underworld episodes 1 - 4 in 1978.

Ronald Pickup played the Archbishop of Canterbury for 4 episodes in 2016. Played the Physician in Doctor Who episode, The Tyrant of France in 1964.

John Woodvine played the Archbishop of York for 4 episodes in 2016. Played Marshal in parts 1 - 4 and 6 of Doctor Who The Armageddon Factor in 1979.

Patrick Ryecart played the Duke of Norfolk for 3 episodes in 2016. Played Crozier in Doctor episodes 5 - 8 of The Trial of a Time Lord in 1986.

Jo Stone-Fewings played Collins for 2 episodes in 2016. Played the Male Programmer in Doctor Who two parter Bad Wolf and The Parting of the Ways in 2005.

Anthony Edridge played Equerry at Clarence House for 2 episodes in 2016. Played the Pilot in Doctor Who episode The Bells of Saint John in 2013.

Bern Collaço played a Portuguese VIP for 2 episodes from 2016-2017. Played a Georgian Soldier in Doctor Who Thin Ice episode in 2017 and an Office Operator in The Return of Doctor Mysterio in 2016 both uncredited.

Michael Bertenshaw played Master of the Household for 1 episode in 2016. Played Mr Cole in Doctor Who episode, The Next Doctor in 2008.

Ian Porter played a U.S. Department Aide for 1 episode in 2016. Played the Foreman in Doctor Who two parter Daleks in Manhatten and as the Hybrid in Evolution of the Daleks in 2007.

Garrick Hagon played John F. Dulles for 1 episode in 2016. Played Harold Potter in Tale of a Timelord short in 2016. Played Abraham in Doctor Who episode A Town Called Mercy in 2012. Played Ky in All six episodes of The Mutants in 1972.

Simon Poland played Chief Scientist for the Met Office for 1 episode in 2016. Was the voice of the 456 voice in Torchwood: Children of Earth day 2 - 5 in 2009.

Anthony Flanagan played Thurman for 1 episode in 2016. Played Orin Scannell in Doctor Who episode 42 in 2007.

Michael Cochrane played Vice Provost Sir Henry Marten for 1 episode in 2016. Played Redvers Fenn-Cooper in Doctor Who story Ghost Light parts 1 - 3 in 1989 and Lord Cranleigh in Black Orchid in both parts in 1982.

Rebecca Benson played a Nurse for 1 episode in 2016. Played Kar in Doctor Who episode (new) The Eaters of Light in 2017.

Garry Lake played Journalist #2 for 1 episode in 2016. Played Vic in Torchwood episode Meat in 2008.

Catherine Bailey played Lady Elizabeth Cavendish for 1 episode in 2017. Played Miss Wyckham in SJA episode Lost in Time, part 2 in 2010.

Bertie Carvel played Robin Day for 1 episode in 2017. Played the Mysterious Man in Doctor Who episode The Lazarus Experiment in 2007.

Richard Elfyn played Selwyn Lloyd for 1 episode in 2017. Was the voice of the Knights in Doctor Who episode Robot of Sherwood in 2014.

Richard Price played a member of the Scots Guard uncredited for 1 episode in 2016. Was uncredited for his Doctor Who roles as Wedding Guest and standard Guest in The Runaway Bride in 2006 and The Lazarus Experiment in 2007, a Passerby in Partners in Crime in 2008, A Takran Soldier in The Doctor's Daughter in the same year, and RTD and Modern Cybermen in 2017. Played a Passerby in SJA: The Mark of the Berserker parts 1 & 2 in 2008.

Film Editing

Úna Ní Dhonghaíle was film editor for 2 episodes in 2016. Was film editor for Doctor Who episode A Good Man Goes to War in 2011.

Makeup Department

Chris Lyons did special effects teeth for 3 episodes in 2017. Did Special Effects teeth for 8 episodes of SJA from 2009 - 2010.

Amy Riley was makeup artist for unknown episodes. Was make up supervisor for 5 episodes of Doctor Who in 2014 and makeup artist for one episode in the same year.

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Michael Llewellyn Williams was crowd runner: dailies and crowd third assistant director for 5 episodes in 2016. Was uncredited as Barry Leonard in Torchwood episode, Reset in 2008. Was an uncredited Slab in Doctor Who episode Smith and Jones in 2007. Was assistant director credited as Michael Williams for Doctor Who episode Flatline in 2014.

Art Department

Richard Rowntree did additional greens for 6 episodes in 2017. Did additional greens for 41 episodes of Doctor Who from 2011 - 2015, all of which were uncredited.

Sound Department

Patrick Christensen was adr mixer for 6 episodes in 2017. Was ADR mixer for 7 episodes of Doctor Who from 2015 - 2017.

George Atkins was adr mixer for 1 episode in 2017. Was ADR mixer for two episodes from 2014 - 2017 and ADR recordist for one episode in 2013.

Special Effects

Peter Kersey was Special effects floor supervisor / special effects technician for 10 episodes in 2016. Was uncredited as special effects technician for Doctor Who movie in 1996.

Leon Harris was special effects technician for 2 episodes in 2016. Was special effects crew for 3 episodes from 2012 - 2013, and special effects for 2 episodes in 2013.

Mike Crowley was special effects technician for unknown episodes. Was special effects supervisor for 8 episodes of Doctor Who in 2006.

Chris Reynolds was special effects supervisor for unknown episodes. Was senior special effects technician for 4 episodes of Doctor Who in 1989, special effects technician for 1 episode in 1986 and special effects for 1 episode in the same year.

Visual Effects

Joseph Batten was digital compositor for 10 episodes in 2016. Was digital matte painter for 19 episodes from 2007 - 2010, and matte painter for 3 episodes in 2008.
Was digital matte painter for 4 episodes of Torchwood from 2006 - 2008 and digital matte painter for SJA for one episode in 2007.

Roy Peker was roto/prep artist: One Of Us for 5 episodes in 2016. Was digital compositor for 3 episodes of Doctor Who in 2017.

William Phillips was matchmove artist for 4 episodes in 2016. Was a matchmove artist for 1 episode of Doctor Who - The Return of Doctor Mysterio in 2016 but was uncredited.

Frederic Heymans was digital compositor for 2 episodes in 2017. Was digital compositor for 8 episodes of Doctor Who in 2014.

Kim Phelan was visual effects producer for unknown episodes. Was visual effects co-ordinator for 4 episodes in 2006, and visual effects co-ordinator for 1 episode in 2006.
Was visual effects co-ordinator for 13 episodes in 2006 and 2D artist for 1 episode in 2005.

Camera and Electrical Department

Jeremy Braben was aerial director of photography for 7 episodes from 2016-2017. Was aerial director of photography for one episode of Doctor Who - The Day of the Doctor, uncredited in 2013.

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Rose Goodhart was crowd costume for 10 episodes in 2016. Was assistant costume designer for 20 episodes from 2006 - 2010 for Doctor Who and costume supervisor for 1 episode in 2006.

Barbara Harrington was wardrobe mistress for 1 episode in 2016. Was costume assistant for 28 episodes of Doctor Who from 2005 - 2010. Was costume assistant for Doctor Who: Music of the Spheres in 2008. Was costume supervisor for 1 episode of SJA in 2007.

Editorial Department

Ben-Roy Turner was digital intermediate operator for 2 episodes in 2017. Was digital intermediate operator for 5 episodes of Doctor Who in 2017.

Location Management

Andrew Ryland was location manager for unknown episodes. Was unit manager: London and uncredited for Doctor Who episode The Bells of Saint John in 2013.

Miscellaneous crew

Jonathan Wayre was film projection / newsreel camera technician / radio & broadcast equipment / vintage BBC radio equipment supplied by for 9 episodes in 2016. Was vintage lab equipment supplied by for one episode for Doctor Who in 2010.

Karen Jones was script supervisor for unknown episodes. Was also production assistant for 4 episodes of Doctor Who story The Trial of a Time Lord parts 5 - 8 in 1986.

Interviews Interview with Frank Cottrell Boyce by DJ Forrest

Interview with Frank Cottrell Boyce

By DJ Forrest

After making sure that the voice recorder was at least recording, I settled down to an interview with Frank Cottrell Boyce, a writer with whom I have been keen to interview for ever such a long time. We always seem to miss each other, what with one thing or another, but tonight I managed to put my questions to him before he relaxed for the evening.

I made my apologies for not having seen the new film 'Goodbye Christopher Robin' but knowing my Mum had already seen it, and had given me more or less the blow by blow account, that I already knew the ending before reaching the steps of the cinema with my popcorn - I was at least certain of the questions I wanted to put to Frank.

I also thanked him for his novel 'Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth', which is aimed at the 9-12-year-old age group. This book told me the ingredients of vinegar, which I'd never really known before, so it was educational, not just for the many children who read his books, but also for this big kid here. *waves*

So, armed with my questions, I began the interview...

Hi Frank, you're a screenwriter as well as a children's novelist, what came first?

Frank: Oh, screenwriting, straight away. I worked on Brookside to start with. I've worked in television for a long time. My first book was Millions which was 2004 and set in Liverpool.

You wrote the 'Debbie & Damon' story, the spin off series from 'Brookside'?

Frank: (laughs), How do you know that, oh God.

I confessed to have done a little research of my own! I loved Brookside, it was one of those early soaps on Channel 4, before HollyOaks came into being. It was one of those dramas that dealt with real life issues, as far as I was concerned, it was much better than Corrie and Eastenders in my humble opinion. So, when Debbie & Damon covered the story of the two teenage lovers, heading out on their own, I was distraught to say the least, when one of them died at the end of the spin off series. So, it sparked the question...

Was it your idea, and that of the creator Phil Redmond's, to kill off Damon at the end of the series, or was it because the actor was leaving the show and you had to write him out?

Frank: He must have been. I don't remember now. He must have been. I don't have that level of power, you know. It must have been a way of writing him out. I still see him Simon O’Brien, he's great. He's got a DIY programme and just built this beautiful library for his kid's school. It's just stunning. He's a great guy.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang musical was a classic, but apart from that I didn't realise other novels had been written, and then I happened to internet search Frank's career and found a few extra books that weren't listed elsewhere, and so had to ask.

Frank: It was originally a book by Ian Fleming, and I think it was the last thing that Fleming wrote, he was very ill when he wrote it. He intended to write it, and if you think about it, it is James Bond for kids. You've got the car. You've got a weird foreign dictator, it's got caper, and all those things. He wrote it for his son but he sadly died, and he always intended to write more. His niece got in touch with me and asked if I'd write the sequels, so I did, and it was fun to do.

I like the Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth as it's set around Dumfries, and I know that area quite well, but there were a few places in the book that I wasn't sure if they were real, or not.

Frank: I probably made up the name. I think of it as, if you think of the Robbie Burns Centre, those flats behind there. That's what I see in my head.

When I read the story about Sputnik, there was a sense of personal attachment to the Grandad in the book and I had a feeling that Frank was writing about someone he knew, because it resonated with someone close to me.

The Grandad in the story, has early onset dementia, was he based on someone you knew? There seemed an awful lot of personal stuff wrapped around that character.

Frank: Yeah, I think that is the most personal I've written in that book and I've never written about a family member before but he's kind of gone beyond being able to read, so it’s not going to impact on him at all. And I wanted to get something down, you know. It's funny, I've genuinely never written about a family member before that book, it's sort of all in there. And I think, I couldn't have written anything else, because you'll know, it takes up all of your head space. I look after him like one and a half days a week and for the rest of the week I'm thinking about him, you know.

You also know a lot, from the book, about life on other planets, and all the planetary stuff, that I'm learning so much about, that I'm going to have to pick your brains when it comes to writing my sci fi novel. So, is that something you're passionate about?

Frank: Yes, I really like my sci fi as you know, and I read a lot of science as well, as that is my thing and I do read a lot of science books. There's one physics book. French one. (Frank delves down the side of desk and lifts a huge book, holding it to the screen and can't recommend it enough - so naturally, that's on my next book list for Waterstones).

"The Universe in Your Hand" but honestly, if you write sci fi, you should read that book. It's like an imaginary trip to the end of the universe using what physics we have and it's really, really great.

In Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth, the young girl Jessie blows a dog whistle loudly, and Sputnik responds by pulling a gun from his rucksack, with plans of shooting the 'whistle blower'. In an ordinary story aimed for a much older audience that sort of thing wouldn't bother me, but a story aimed at the 9-12 age group, I felt really uncomfortable reading this part, so I put this question to Frank.

Frank: We've had lots of arguments about that. Not with my publisher actually just with my kids in fact who were more sensitive about it than I was. I didn't come across any rules about it and I would normally be very against that. I mean, I've never written a villain and I don't really believe in villains, or anything like that but it just seemed to come out of him. He just seemed to be a completely lawless character.

I guess he's sort of not real. You kind of know that if he did fire that gun, that it wouldn't hurt, do you know what I mean? I don't know how to kind of untangle this. It's still kind of working at the moment with him, with that character because I'm working on the film at the moment and it's like 'how would that work?'

So, I kind of think, you know how that's not a serious threat to the kid because whatever's going on with that gun is not really a gun somehow.

The lightsaber seemed to be MUCH worse however (laughs)

Frank: The lightsaber is what I read when I go to the schools. I read that section out loud and kids love that. And they love the fact that it's transgressive, that it's scary and its horror and stuff, so…

Well, kids love scary stuff though. The things that kids watch these days which is pretty much more than I would watch, I'm either behind a cushion or peering through my fingers!!! (Wimp, me? Yes)

It was something I always wondered, especially as a new writer, as to how far you could push the boundaries before someone said, no, no, no you can't write it. You're going to have to have a cut off point.

Frank: You are cautious. I am cautious, but Sputnik just takes over. I guess it's an instinctive thing. If it works, it works, you know.

You've written two Doctor Who episodes, Smile and In the Forest of the Night - which instantly made me think of the poem, Tiger. Back in the early days of Who, the story Human Nature was written for the Seventh Doctor in book form, but was made into an episode for the 10th Doctor. Was In the Forest of the Night written for any other Doctor or specifically for the 12th?

Frank: No, it was written very much for the 12th Doctor. It had quite a specific place in the arc of the series because if you remember it was the episode before the death of Danny Pink. So, I had this basic idea for a story and what Steven wanted me to, as he called it 'take a big back swing' for that character Danny Pink, so we knew we were going to kill him in the next episode, so we were giving him an episode that was part of the brief. So, it had a specific slot in the arc of the series.

In the episode 'Smile', the idea of the nano things that all came apart from the whole building, where did that idea come from?

Frank: Right, that's a very specific thing, I work on part of a project, where a writer works with a scientist, and I was working with a guy called Andrew Vardy, who those robots are named after, who works at the University of Newfoundland and Andrew works on tiny robots. Not Nano robots which are the size of a molecule but very small robots like the size of my fingernail, that perform tasks and they swarm in order to perform the tasks.

I was really thrilled at them, I thought they were great and they've got a kind of autonomy and if you watch them, they work. I call it 'starling technology'. They were my main pitch for this episode but we realised as we started planning it out, to do a lot with those…people think that CGI is free but CGI is very expensive. So, I kind of wanted the building to morph and move and disappear and reappear. We couldn't get anywhere near that. So, we came up with that kind of interim idea that there would be these tiny robots but they would have shepherds which are the emoji bots

Ahh, got you, as originally I was thinking along the lines of the Vashta Nerada, Silence in the library.

Frank: Ahh yes, a lot of people have said that, but honestly, it was Gretna starlings and Andrew Vardy's real robots.

Will you be writing more Doctor Who episodes?

Frank: I don't know really. I haven't been asked, so...I guess that's not for the next series anyway. I think Chris is wanting to really, really wipe the slate clean, you know like, you probably know by now that Bill isn't in the next series?

I had heard something about that.

Frank: Yeah, that's quite unusual to get rid of a companion if you're getting a new Doctor, because you usually keep a companion.  And, I'm insanely busy at the moment and happy not to be doing it to be honest.

My next question was going to be, if you were going to be writing any more, could you bring the Sea Devils back?

Frank: I loved the Sea Devils you know. I thought they were amazing. They've really really stayed with me, yeah, and any time I see those offshore fortresses I'm always a little bit spooked by them. And please don't tell me anything about it because all I've got is a couple of childhood images that if I looked it up or watched it on YT I'm sure it would be rubbish

Are you looking forward to the 13th Doctor?

Frank: Yeah, who isn't? I look forward to every Doctor to be honest. All my life I've always wanted to know who the next Doctor was going to be but she's going to be fantastic isn't she?

I confessed that although I was looking forward to Jodie appearing as the new Doctor, that my initial thoughts regarding a female Doctor were more or less, the same as many of the people who were less positive. But then I had to look beyond that, and with so much talk regarding transgender these days in the news, on social media and television that perhaps the change of gender for the Doctor was no different to that of the transgender community, and when I looked at it that way, I could accept that, and I had no issues regarding the 13th Doctor.

Frank: We didn't care when the Master was a woman did we?

Yeah, but she wasn't the Master, she was the wife of the Master. When that was finally revealed that kind of killed it for me. I thought 'dammit' I was waiting for the regeneration. Missy was great, just a pity she was killed off really.

Who was your Doctor when you were growing up?

Frank: Jon Pertwee.

If you had to choose from the new Who, who would it be?

Frank: Favourite? I absolutely love Peter Capaldi. I mean, obviously, I've enjoyed all of them, but I like the idea of the Doctor as the teacher. Do you know what I mean, the Doctor not as a potential boyfriend. You've got someone who is a mentor - that wiser, older, more damaged, more flawed. I love him. I think he's fantastic.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

You know when you're writing about a real person, how much research do you have to cover about that one character?

Frank: I obviously like to research. I think partly because that's the thing I most enjoy about writing. I really enjoy finding stuff out. I enjoy interviewing people and I really enjoy kind of looking for and finding things, because then you don't have to write them. I do remember, years ago, one of the films I first made, it was called 'Hilary and Jackie' and it was about the cellist, Jacqueline du Pré, and I remember going to have supper with her sister and honestly, after an hour and a half of chatting to her, coming out with three or four great scenes already in my head, and the main thrust of the film just from talking to her. And I love that, when you engage with the reality of something, you gain so much and it's all fresh, it's all stuff you...I know it's an old cliche to say, but you couldn't make it up.

I laughed at this point. The phrase 'You couldn't make this up' reflected upon the job I do in my real life (away from the website). So for a few minutes we discussed the possibilities of writing my sci fi novel based around my day job, and the characters, and the people who visit my place of work, and it truly was an interesting topic which probably shocked Frank far more than I really intended.

Frank: The more truly autobiographical something is the more fantastic it has to be. I think the most fantastical story the most autobiographical story ever written is Metamorphosis where he changed into a beetle. I think that's so like the way my Dad is at the moment. I just think that's exactly right. That's what's happened. He's turned into a beetle, basically.

But also, I'm thinking it's like the housing estate which I grew up on, I moved to it when I was a little boy, and it was so exciting and now it's full of old people. I wouldn't want to write about it because I know everybody there and was thinking this is what it will be like if we build a colony on Mars. The first inhabitants will be young couples with kids, it would be dead exciting, and then they'll all grow old together and that housing estate, if I was going to write about it, I would definitely write about it as a Martian colony.

So, I think you're on the right track, I love the idea of sci fi-ing the Gretna Blacksmith's thing, that's a great idea, because it is a sci fi idea isn't it, because people are stopping off there for whatever reason.

Also, when you're writing about your characters for Christopher Robin, were there some things you couldn't actually write, maybe some other details you couldn't get a hold of, so you'd have to use poetic licence?

Frank: In the film we couldn't touch anything to do with Winnie the Pooh because Disney owns it all. So, we couldn't go near it, no. That was actually quite liberating though as it meant we had to write something else. Most of the films I've made have been about real people, and I've always been quite cautious and always gone to speak to the people involved to see what they didn't want in it because I don't think anyone should be compromised just to entertain everybody else.

So, in 24 Hour Party People that was about the Manchester Music Scene, and there was one scene in it that the two people involved in it that were still quite angry with each other, so I just got one of the real people to plays out his drama, and then one of the real people who was really in that scene just walked onto camera and goes 'this didn't happen like this, it happened like this, and this.'

What prompted the idea for the film?

Frank: That film was already in development when they came to me, and I think it was always going to come to me because I'm an English screenwriter who likes writing about real people and I'm also a children's novelist, so it was always a perfect fit for me. And I didn't want to do it, and it came across my desk and I looked at it and thought, 'no I do want to do this.'

I'd built such a strong connection with Winnie the Pooh and with also the whole thing of Dads, you know, and I've got lots of children, and as soon as I looked at it. ‘I know how to do that’. which is a big thing, because normally you spend ages trying to figure out how to do something, and the minute I saw that material I thought, I know how to do this.

You were co-writer on the movie,

Frank: Yeah, there was a guy, Simon Vaughan, who had already written the script. We didn't write together as he had already written the script, which did the job of explaining that there was a story there and Simon would admit this but Simon's not really a writer, but he is a huge Winnie the Pooh fan. He's a producer really. He'd already made a film called 'A Bear Called Winnie' about the bear and then he wanted to go on to make the one about the boy, and the script was just not good enough at all. And so, I had free rein to re-write it.

Ahh, I just wondered how the role of co-writer worked. Does one have the idea and the other one writes it. I wasn't quite sure how that moulded together.

Frank: This is what they call a Page One rewrite. It kept the same focus but I don't think there's a word to sandwich it

You come back to South West Scotland quite a lot, do you get most of your ideas for writing here? I know with Sputnik story but...

Frank: I never write when I'm there, but I think that's quite a good thing, that is because you write pretty relentlessly at home and I think I don't ever have time to think. And when we're in Dumfries & Galloway I don't do any work. But actually, I think that's when you do your most valuable work.

Except for the novel Millions the book which I wrote, when my son, had a job at Mabie Farm Park and getting there and back was a nightmare, so I used to drive him down and think, 'it's just not worth going home', so I would sit in the car park there at the picnic table and that's where I wrote most of Millions.

Thank you, Frank, for an awesome interview, and I look forward to seeing you very soon!

Photos courtesy of Frank Cottrell Boyce, Pan Books, Goodbye Christopher Robin film poster, BBC News, and BBC Doctor Who.