Friday, May 19, 2017

I Have A New Website

It can be found at

Most of the meat of this blog has already been transferred over but it will remain here for a little while, like a sad old diner slowly peeling paint and losing customers since they opened the new freeway.

I think I hear bulldozers...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I'm Back Baby

'I know a race made of sentient gas who throw fireballs as a friendly wave. I know another race with sixty four stomachs who talk to each other by disembowelling.'

- The Doctor, Flatline.

Yes, I am back writing for Doctor Who. As evidenced by the accompanying photo which I call 'Power Stance while Protecting Groin'.

In honour of my third year on the show I can reveal that when I wrote the above quote for the good Doctor, I was actually making a back reference to a piece of my own work. A sketch that I only I knew about, from a pilot that was never made. An easter egg I'm frankly surprised no-one picked up on.

Want to read the sketch? Of course you do!



A desk and two chairs in a sparse militaristic office. MR. KINSEY, an authoritative General type in a short sleeve shirt and tie sits reading from a buff folder while smoking. Two suited bodyguards with earpieces and sunglasses stand in the corners of the room. They both touch their earpieces simultaneously.

The door opens, DR. JACKSON enters, bespectacled and bookish, clutching a brown leather bag to himself protectively. MR. KINSEY stands and they shake hands. They are both American.

Dr. Jackson, thank you for coming.

Well it’s not like I had a lot of choice. Look, can we just get on with this?

Very well. I take it you’ve read the file? On the flight?

I read it. I didn’t believe it but I read it.

Oh it’s all true. The aliens are very real. They’re here and they want to talk.

Well, it’s incredible, I’ll give you that, but I fail to see what it has to do with me.

You’re a linguist.

Granted. But I’m hardly the top of my field. I could name you twenty far more versatile -

This isn’t about language in the traditional sense. You see the aliens do not speak as we understand it, it’s more a kind of, sign language.

Again, I must ask, why me?

MR. KINSEY opens the buff folder.

In 1989 you worked for a summer as an assistant at a slaughterhouse, did you not?

Yes I did.

It is this skill set which we hope to utilise. To put it bluntly, the aliens communicate, by disembowelment.

A beat.



I know what it means.

MR. KINSEY hands over another folder and begins pointing out details.

We’ve managed to isolate a few basic words and phrases - it all seems to depend on the angle that the knife enters and the order that the organs are removed.

So they talk by gutting?


So who exactly gets gutted?

Well, the aliens gut one another and well, up until now, we’ve been pretty quiet.

So we haven’t said anything to them yet?

Well, we gutted a volunteer just to say hello and make sure we were barking up the right tree.

I see.

But given the importance of this alliance, the president has sanctioned the use of death row prisoners in the negotiations.

DR JACKSON looks appalled.

Well, that makes sense.

Dr. Jackson, I’m sensing some resistance here. I realise we’re asking a lot but the advances in technology and medicine that they offer us are breathtaking.

I see.

Look, you’ll be fully trained up and the prisoners you’ll be gutting will all be the lowest of the low.

Can they be dead already?

Er, no. It screws up the verbs.

Well, fully anaesthetised then.

Erm, no, tied up yes, knocked out, no. Apparently the screaming acts as punctuation.

Oh God.

Look, they’ve offered us cures for every disease known to man and an end to world hunger. You weigh that up against gutting a few deadbeats, it’s really no choice at all.

DR. JACKSON composes himself.

Your right, of course. When do we start?

That’s my boy.


Same office, same guards in attendance. DR. JACKSON and MR. KINSEY enter. DR. JACKSON has on a full length butcher’s apron, wellies and from his chest down he is dripping with blood. In one hand he is holding a gutting hook dripping with gore.

They were very chatty, weren’t they?

He passes out cold.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Dad, The Doctor

We were walking Biscuit when we found the sunglasses.

The air was cold enough to sting a little when you breathed it in, coming out in clouds of steam that made us all look like dragons. I was busy breaking icy puddles with my new wellies when I heard Dad laugh.

The sunglasses were sitting in a blackened crater just outside the wood. Dad said they looked as if they had fallen like a meteor, but obviously someone had just made a campfire. It was still funny though.

He crouched down to pick them up. I thought he was going to pass them to me, but as soon as he touched them he looked distant. Then he put them on, looked at me and said ‘Well, my eyes appear to be working at any rate.’

Only now his accent was Scottish.

It was a bit like his Shrek voice. I giggled because I loved it when he did voices. That usually meant fun.

Then he turned and walked straight into a tree, a real head butt. He fell over onto his back but his arms were still swinging and his legs were still striding, as if he didn’t realise he wasn’t walking anymore. I roared with laughter and lay down beside him and tried to copy him, the frosty leaves crunching under us. Biscuit jumped around us and over us, barking and licking our faces.

Dad used to do this all the time. Well, not exactly this, but games where he wasn’t Dad. He was a vampire or a troll or a robot or a giant. He would chase me or carry me or I would chase him. Doing voices, pulling faces.

The games had stopped for good when Mum left. And that was months ago. I was so happy to see them back it hurt my heart. (The note from Mum just said she needed a Bit of Space, but then Mrs Dunwoody had seen her at the bus stop with Another Man. And she never came back.)

Dad finally stopped moving his legs and looked up at the tree.

Not as easy operating this body as I’d hoped. The interface is a little glitchy. You’re going to have to help me. Lead me that-a-way. And try not to walk me into any more trees.’

He held out an elbow and I started leading him through the wood. Biscuit seemed entirely happy with this new direction and I was just happy to be holding onto Dad, even if it was only his elbow.

On the way Dad told me a story, which went like this:

He wasn’t really Dad anymore. When Dad touched the sunglasses he activated something called a ‘Telepathic Emergency Beacon’ which basically meant that someone else was now controlling Dad. An alien called ‘The Doctor’ whose real body was currently in orbit in a broken spaceship which was going to explode. We had to find something that had fallen from the spaceship and bring it to The Doctor.

I loved the story. I loved the fact that Dad was making things up again. Stories were another thing which left with Mum, so getting a game and a story in the same day was like Christmas. I didn’t want our walk through the wood to ever end.

After a while he stopped and said ‘And here we are.’

In the middle of the wood was a battered old blue box, half buried. It had the words POLICE BOX written on it. Of course, if you squinted, you could imagine it was half buried because it had fallen from the sky, but you could also imagine that it had been here for years. Dad stood in front of it clicking his fingers and arguing with it.

Come on. Open up. I know I don’t look like me. But it’s me up here. Surely that’s what counts. I mean honestly, the amount of faces I’ve had you’d think you’d make an exception.’

I was laughing until the door opened and he climbed inside.

After a moment I followed him.

I thought I’d hit my head because we were suddenly somewhere else: a big boiler room full of lights with a tall machine that reminded me of a church organ. Dad was skipping around it, pressing buttons, pulling levers and whistling. I gasped and Biscuit barked.

The story was true. All true. This wasn’t my Dad anymore. This was an alien called The Doctor. So where was my Dad? Trapped in his own head?

Then the room began to groan and shudder. I thought about running, just leaving him. But whoever was in his head, it was still my Dad’s body. I had to look after it (even though he hadn’t - he’d put on three stone since Mum left.)

All of that was scary and horrible, but the idea that made me really sad was that Dad hadn’t really played a game with me or told me a story.

My Dad, The Doctor, turned to me and smiled happily.

Well thanks for your help. Oh, and tell your Dad thanks for the loan of his body.’ Then he took off the sunglasses and threw them across the room.

They were caught by a thin man with grey hair who was just entering the room. Behind him, through the door, I could see something that didn’t make sense: a room of metal on fire, then the door closed. The thin man put the sunglasses in his pocket and carried on talking in the Doctor’s voice as he moved over to the church organ machine. He was The Doctor. Of course he was.

You’ve both been very helpful, it could be argued, against your will. So as a reward, I’m prepared to offer you one free trip, anywhere in time and space.”

My Dad was blinking, confused as he looked around himself, but he heard that. He looked from me to the Doctor and back again.


Mrs Dunwoody was just driving past the bus stop when she saw my mum talking to the Strange Man. But he wasn’t. He was just my Dad, three stone heavier. Even Mum didn’t recognise him.

I can give you space.’ said my Dad.

Over his shoulder, the blue box waited…

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cut Scene From Mummy On The Orient Express

This is a scene from a fairly early draft and is set just after Captain Quell cuffs the Doctor and before he has a change of heart, which in the final draft was about thirty seconds!

There was a whole other plotline involving the Doctor in the cab of the train that didn't really move the plot forward, which is ultimately true of this entire scene.

But more Perkins is always fun!



Clang as a cell door closes, THE DOCTOR inside. The cell has straw on the floor and a couple of empty crates. CAPTAIN QUELL and the GUARDS face him through the bars.

You will get marked down for this.

For the last time: you are not a
mystery shopper.

CAPTAIN QUELL leaves. The DOCTOR attempts to regain levity, shouting after them.

And seriously, who has prison cells on a luxury train? That’s real mixed signals you’re sending there!

But they’ve gone. The DOCTOR begins to inspect his cell.

They’re not cells. They’re cages.

The DOCTOR cranes his neck to look down the carriage, where he finds PERKINS oiling the bars with an old fashioned oil can.

Perkins! Good to see you.

We use them to carry livestock every now and again. That whole back wall turns into a ramp. Makes it easier to hose it down.

Come to spring me have you?

PERKINS sits on a crate facing the cell.

More than my jobs worth, sir.

That seems to be the motto of this train. There will be more deaths. You can be sure of that.

That’s as maybe. From an enemy we can’t see that no-one believes in.

I’ve got some ideas about that. But I need to get to the driver’s cab. Is there nothing you can do to help me?

Well, even if I was to let you out of that cell, you’d still have get past all those security cameras. Then there’s the guards, with orders to arrest you on sight.

I’ll think of something. Probably.

PERKINS smiles. A thought strikes him.

Did you know this train actually runs on steam? Well technically the steam’s powering a quantum storm drive but you can’t have everything.

THE DOCTOR frowns. This is relevant how?

That’s very interesting.

Ridiculous really. They just wanted authentic looking smoke. But then they found that smoke really looks wrong in space. Do you know how they fixed it in the end?

Enlighten me.

Permanent air corridor. Around the whole train. Held there by force fields. Thirty to forty foot high on the roof. But it’s still there on the sides. Seven foot or so out. The window cleaners use it. Quite a sight.

THE DOCTOR’s eyes narrow. The hint of a smile.

Because they don’t use harnesses do they?

They don’t need them sir. You can always trust the train beneath your feet.

THE DOCTOR is smiling now. He stands and considers the wall behind him.

And I don’t suppose that this ramp door thing has a broken latch by any chance?

Very perceptive sir. Someone should report it.

THE DOCTOR grins. He gets it. He nods.

Thank you, Perkins.

PERKINS keeps his face carefully blank.

I don’t know what you mean, sir.

We stay on the mock innocent face of PERKINS as we hear a blast of air, as if someone has opened the window on a plane. The noise cuts out.

Wide on the empty cell.

Good luck, sir.



Close on the train, roaring through space, about to enter a hyperspace portal. We move past it’s smokestack and over the roof, then zoom down the side to discover -

THE DOCTOR walking impossibly on the side of the train! Gravity is obviously set to make any surface ‘down’. Dynamic hero shot as he strides toward the engine. A man on a mission.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Writing 'My Dad, The Doctor'

If you haven't read the story, nip off and read it. It can be found here.

Now I'm going to bang on a little about writing it, no doubt using more words than the actual story. Mainly because I love reading that kind of thing from writers myself and thought it might be fun.

The first thing to say about the story is that I didn't want to burn through an idea that could be used in the show. Having an actor pretend to be 'possessed' by Capaldi would be a real risk in live action, but in your head, the impression is pitch perfect, making the conceit work well in prose. Also, much of it goes on the child's head, all thoughts that would have to be vocal in life action, making it potentially clunky.

I'm going to post the pitch I submitted to get the gig. The thing to note about this is that I had misread the brief. I thought it was to be a 2000 word short story, not 1000 words. Because I am writer not a reader and, let's be frank, on this evidence, a little bit dim.

Pitch for 2000 word short story
'My Dad, The Doctor'
by Jamie Mathieson

The basic wish fulfilment for kids idea underlying the story is this: 'Wouldn't it be great if my Dad was The Doctor.'

Clara and The Doctor on a spaceship in orbit around Earth as it is ripped apart by some unseen force. We see the Tardis spin away into space. Things look grim.

Cut to 10 year old Will, spending the weekend with his Dad Clive (divorced) in a rural village, modern UK. They're stargazing one night and spot a shooting star that appears to hit nearby. The next morning while walking the dog they find a crater containing a small meteorite which is still warm. They take it home, it cracks open, revealing the sonic screwdriver embedded within.

Clive begins to behave oddly, talking in a Scottish accent, doing his best impression of The Doctor. He's effectively being possessed. Will thinks it's one of his Dad's games as Clive is one of those imaginative Dads that's always pretending to be a zombie or a robot etc.

Clive tells Will that he's no longer his Dad. He's actually a 2000 year old time traveller called The Doctor and he's borrowing his Dad's brain for a while through a psychic projector which is piggybacking on the sonic screwdriver. His real body is currently in orbit and he's going to need Will's help to rescue it.

Will loves this 'game' initially. The Doctor explains that he was fighting an alien called the Composite in a spaceship in orbit. During the battle, the Composite trashed most of the systems of the ship and it will burn up soon unless Will and Clive can save him.

Will is filled with questions about the Composite, which The Doctor explains is not visible in our dimension. What a surprise, thinks Will. The alien instead uses telekinetic fields to build itself a body out of whatever raw material presents itself. That's what it did with the ship, ripping it to pieces. It was after the Doctor's ship, which was flung into space and according to the sonic, landed nearby.

They need to get to the Tardis and quickly. The sonic has detected that the alien is closing in. Will stops treating this as a game when he spots the woods at the back of the house being ripped apart by something huge and invisible...

A chase begins. The Doctor's control of Clive's body is patchy at best. There's no way he could drive, forcing Will into the driver's seat of a Range Rover. Behind them the cottage is consumed by The Composite, who uses the rubble and beams to form a huge body to pursue them, lumbering through the village, snatching up cars and paving slabs to add to it's mass. Soon it's a huge Godzilla sized monster made of trees and rubble and cars, getting bigger by the second.

After a few close shaves, they reach a wood which has been all but flattened by the impact of the Tardis. For a while they are stumped by the doors. Much as Clive may click his fingers or wave the sonic, the doors won't open. At the last possible second before the Composite crushes them, the Tardis accepts the Doctor's mental imprint, the doors open and they dart within to the safety of the interior.

With the Tardis at their disposal things get much easier. Materialise onto the ship to rescue Clara and The Doctor's body, give Clive back control and if there is room (ie word count) a battle in orbit with the Composite. If not, then a trans dimensional pulse to send the Composite back to it's own dimension. Then as a reward to Clive and Will, a trip anywhere they want in time and space.


Obviously quite a bit different to what we ended up with. Ideas I came up with while writing - the whole time loop involving the absent mother, the fact that the gender of the child is not revealed, sonic sunglasses instead of screwdriver and obviously a lot more emotional focus on the missing mother and the relationship between father and child.

This idea was approved and I started writing, still under the misapprehension that I had a whole extra 1000 words to play with. Even with that it still seemed a squeeze. I wrote the whole thing and was struggling for room, then I re-read the brief, realised I'd have to cut the whole thing in half, head butted the desk and started cutting it down.

This oddly made life easier and brought what the story was really about into focus. There was a lot that would just have to go. There was no room for the monster or Clara for example. Or the car. Or the cottage - well you get the idea.

In honour of what might of been, I will end with the beginning as it originally read. Enjoy: 

Clara never tired of seeing the Earth from orbit.

She had seen countless other planets from space; dusky alien worlds with unfamiliar coastlines stained with vibrant colours or scorched with the black of war, silver Tech Worlds lost in clouds of space debris and gravity locked worlds so close to their neighbours they felt like marbles clustered in a bag. But there was still something instantly thrilling about seeing the deep blue horizon of her home planet curving beneath her.

At the moment, however, she didn’t really feel she could properly enjoy the view, stunning though it was. She was a little picky in the way that she absolutely insisted in viewing planets in orbit through some sort of glass or forcefield. Anything less was a little too, well, fatal, for her taste. True, the explosive decompression of the cargo bay after it lost a bulkhead wall had momentarily provided a truly breathtaking view of Earth’s northern hemisphere. But on the downside it had also left Clara with nothing but a one handed shaky grip on a metal strut between her and oblivion.

Everything not bolted down was cartwheeling past her as she struggled to keep hold, buffeted in the gale. Cargo, debris and the bodies of the crew rushed headlong into the void. Screaming was impossible with no air but her vocal chords were giving it a damn good go.

Clara could see The Doctor through a sealed window to one side, working feverishly on a control panel. He looked like he was giving her instructions, lips moving as he pointed, but no air meant no sound. Whatever his no doubt brilliant plan was, it looked like Clara was going to die having never heard it.

She was just thinking that things couldn’t possibly get any worse when she spotted a familiar blue shape from the corner of her eye. The TARDIS rushed past her, missing her head by inches and span out into space.

Free of the crippled freighter, the TARDIS continued to spin until it hit the atmosphere, when the buffeting of the air righted it. The familiar blue gradually gave way to orange as the base of it’s shell heated up on re-entry.

It shimmered like a mirage as it fell…

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Seven Wonders Of The Universe

Originally, the spacebound Orient Express in 'Mummy On The..' was scheduled to visit The Seven Wonders Of The Universe. Indeed, in the first few drafts, she did just that, with passengers getting off to explore exotic ruins as they discussed the mysterious deaths plaguing the train.
However, the pressures of fitting everything into 45 mins caused the Wonders to all be stripped away. The smallest echo of this premise still remains in the set design, in the form of this sign, which I liberated from a corridor set as it was being destroyed.
You can catch a glimpse of this sign on a table in The Doctor Who Extra for the episode.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Farewell To The Tardis

In early 2004 my agent managed to get me a meeting. They were rebooting Doctor Who apparently, had read a spec script of mine and wanted to chat.

While I was waiting in reception at the BBC, Christopher Eccleston wandered in and stood talking to one of the receptionists. He hadn't yet been announced as the new Doctor but I'd loved him in Cracker and considered saying something to that effect.

I weighed it up for a long minute, but in the end did nothing, bottling it and rationalising that he was probably sick of exchanges like that.

I was eventually called into my Doctor Who meeting. I didn't get the gig.

Ten years and three regenerations later I finally cracked it. I got asked to write for Doctor Who. Twice.

I've had an absolute ball writing these scripts. If you enjoy watching them half as much as I did writing them, then I've plainly done something wrong. And at every step of the way I've had the support of a wonderful team of smart people pointing out when I'm not. Smart, that is. Which is quite handy, because it turns out that's fairly often.

And astride it all like the Who colossus that he is, Mr Steven Moffat, whose notes have fixed so many glaring errors and added so many cool aspects to the episodes that someone should really put him in charge of the show or something. No seriously. He's that good.

So I hope you've enjoyed my two week tenure at the helm of the Tardis. Or as Steven refers to it: 'The Jamie Mathieson era.' Thanks to everyone both in front of and behind the camera for making my words come alive.

It's been a blast.


The Boneless

It was one of those ideas that I was surprised Who hadn't done before. Flat monsters that steal dimension. But no. It was just sitting there, waiting for me.

It has antecedents of course. I remember vividly the book Flat Stanley from my childhood. The jolly tale of a small boy who is flattened by a posterboard and then gets into all kinds of scrapes by sliding under doors or being posted back home in an envelope. The doomed cleaner Stan in Flatline is named in his memory. There is also the novella Flatland, (1888) a social satire about a two dimensional world. The Abbott estate, where Flatline takes place is named in memory of the author, Edwin Abbott Abbott. And then of course there is Roadrunner, with Wil E Coyote painting his fake tunnels on rock dead-ends, which the Roadrunner then impossibly runs through. I stopped just short of naming a character Coyote.

I had to get the gig first of course. I arrived at the pitch meeting with four episode outlines and drawings of four fresh monsters (my years at art college finally paying off). My first drawing of the Boneless accompanies this post. I also included a print-out of Holbein's stretched skull, a version of which I envisaged as at least one of the creatures 'kills'. (Pictured below)

And joy of joys, Steven liked it. He approved the writing of an outline and the process began.

One pitfall I tried very hard to avoid was the idea that these kills could be seen as silly. If we weren't careful the flattening of people could cause giggles rather than gasps. Every draft I wrote, I stressed the crunch of bone and the screams that should accompany each flattening. All insurance against the death of horror: mockery. Oh of course, there would be room for jokes. But never about the monster. Never about the death.

From the beginning the Boneless were silent and from another dimension. Anything I could do to make it difficult for The Doctor. He doesn't recognise them, neither does the Tardis. He can't talk to them. He doesn't know what they want. They're just killing.

The idea that he hopes the killings are accidental was a fairly early addition. It struck me as a very Doctorish attitude to a first contact situation. Filled with hope that maybe this time things will be different.

The move from 2D to 3D went through a few permutations. In early drafts the Boneless became 3D by wrapping themselves around the living like anacondas, snapping the necks of their victims before driving them around like puppeteers, their faces a smeared distortion of humanity. This is the version pictured. But this was soon deemed a little too grim for teatime on a Saturday.

Ultimately I think we succeeded in making a potentially laughable two dimensional flattening alien credible and scary. I don't think anyone is laughing at the Boneless. And if they are laughing, I hope it's a nervous strained laugh as they try not to think too hard about that slithering movement in the corner of their eye. They are very good at hiding, after all...


Tiny Tardis of TERROR

'It's going to be have to be a Doctor light episode. But so was Blink. Which some people seemed to like.' I'm paraphrasing from memory, but that was the gist of the direction from Steven. The implication being, this doesn't have to be a limitation. If you're smart, you could make it a strength.

I was two drafts into Flatline, which up until this point had been a conventional Doctor Who episode in many ways; the Doctor and Clara running around together and try to figure out exactly how to defeat the Boneless, the flat 'aliens of the week'. Only the version of the Doctor I'd been writing had been a generic vaguely Matt Smith version. Capaldi had only just been announced and this was supposed to be the meeting where I discovered Steven's vision for the new Doctor's character. And now this bombshell.

The Doctor needed to be in the same location for most of the episode. This would give Peter less shooting days and free up the schedule. Trapping him in the Tardis was the obvious choice. But how to make it seem a logical organic part of the story?

The five foot version of the Tardis was already in the script. 'Couldn't we just keep that process going? Shrink it right down, make the doors too small for him to get out?' There and then in the meeting I pitched the idea.

A tiny Tardis, but only on the outside. That could be kind of cool, couldn't it? We started riffing on the possibilities; the Doctor's arm reaching out, passing long things out like a Tommy Cooper gag, poking people in the eye. The mad thing was that no-one had done it before. In hindsight it seems obvious. The exterior has always been smaller on the outside. In this episode, we just keep going.

The next part of the puzzle came from Steven. I'm sure I would have figured it out given time, but he's just so damn quick. 'I'll go you one better.' he said. 'Clara carries the Tardis around in her bag for the whole episode.'

My smile froze. Of course she does Steven. And every time anyone compliments me on the idea I will have to hold my tongue and grind my teeth knowing you came up with the cherry on the cake. Damn your Bafta winning eyes.

Draft three was a lot of work. I had to completely rewrite the episode from scratch incorporating a whole new character for the Doctor based upon 12's new direction, figure out exactly how Clara would behave without him (Doctor Clara! Of course!) and make sure the logic of the tiny Tardis all held together.

A particular pain in the arse was the fact that anything the Doctor said to Clara couldn't be heard by other characters, which meant that repetition had to be guarded against. But on the plus side, he could insult with impunity. I think it was a three week rewrite, because we all knew it was a big one. I wrote every day until I got a headache. Which was most days.

An idea I came up with while writing was the Doctor dragging the Tardis along like the Addams Family Thing, which wasn't in any outlines or discussions and was a nice surprise for everyone when I handed in the script.

I think the rewrite was well received. A week or so after I handed it in I got a phone call: 'How would you like to write another one?' Is this a trick question? 'Steven's already got a title in mind. 'Mummy On The Orient Express.'...