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Famous Doctor Who fans

I remember reading an interview a few years – mid-90s at a guess – in which someone, possibly Mark Gatiss, said he was sure that Doctor Who would return one day because there’d soon come a point where people in strategic positions all over the higher echelons of the BBC (or media generally) would be Doctor Who fans.

It struck me as a thrilling prospect – and one that made a lot of sense. You only have to look at the people who worked on the New Adventures and follow a few of their career paths to see how true that prediction turned out to be.

I thought I’d see how true it was and found that Doctor Who creeps into various different areas of UK media – almost as if someone had interfered with their personal time lines 40-odd years ago and ensured they were in the right places at the right time…

Writing and production staff with direct involvement in new series

Russell T Davies
Steven Moffat
Mark Gatiss
Gareth Roberts
Neil Gaiman
Chris Chibnall
Rob Shearman
Gary Russell
Paul Cornell
Matthew Jones
Simon Nye
Richard Curtis

Actors with direct involvement in new series

David Tennant
Peter Capaldi
John Barrowman
David Walliams
Peter Kay
Simon Pegg

Miscellaneous authors

All have been published or commissioned for TV/audio scripts outisde of Doctor Who, as far as I can tell

Marc Platt
Ben Aaronovitch
Andy Lane
Lance Parkin
Justin Richards
Martin Day
Simon Winstone
Mark Morris
Paul Magrs
Robert Perry

Miscellaneous actors and writers with some (possibly tangential) involvement in new series or spin-off media

Reece Shearsmith
Stephen Fry
Kim Newman
Michael Moorcock
Jon Culshaw
Nev Fountain
Mitch Benn
Matt Lucas


Whatever happened to Neil Penswick?

From time to time I wonder whatever happened to Neil Penswick, author of the The Pit – probably the most derided book in Doctor Who history.

The Pit was a relatively early New Adventure, from a time when the Virgin series had yet to find its feet, and wasn’t generally liked. In fact, everyone who’s ever read it seems to swear it’s the worst book ever written.

I remember reading a few pages of it, not especially enjoying it, and moving on to something else, probably re-reading Timewyrm: Exodus or something.

I’m a big fan of those New Adventures, as they introduced me to a lot of science-fiction concepts and styles, which in turn led to other stuff. They came along at the right time for me

But a lot of those books stand up as sci-fi novels in their own right to my mind, and I liked where it took Doctor Who, taking the themes and approach of the later Cartmel series on TV and running with them.

For many they went too far, but I don’t generally reckon so. Ben Aaronovitch’s Transit probably did and is not a great book, but I enjoyed it. And the hard futuristic sci-fi novels of Kate Orman, Andy Lane, Lance Parkin and Andrew Cartmel – among the best – take the same characters, language, setting and mise-en-scene as Transit and create a whole new universe within the, er, Whoniverse.

So, I have a soft spot for the NAs. And now and again I find myself wondering what happened to the authors. Much of them are still involved with Doctor Who, some at high levels, though it often seems to be the least interesting ones.

Many can be found on Gallifrey Base, or on blogs or Twitter.

But Neil Penswick? Where the hell has he ended up? Tragically he’s the only one of the NA writers not to have his own Wikipedia entry.

I seem to recall from the blurb on the back of The Pit that he lived in Bedford. Is he still there? What’s he doing these days? If anyone knows, can you tell me?.

If only to mark the upcoming 20th anniversary of the publication of The Pit?