There are only a few definite landmarks in my development as a writer. The Singing Detective is a big one. I was sixteen years old when I saw it and it's deft weaving of one man's memories and fantasies rearranged the furniture in my head like an over enthused lifestyle guru. It was funny, trippy, fiercely intelligent and incredibly accomplished. It's impact was seismic and I am not alone in this assessment. Many writers and creatives of my generation quote it as a formative influence, (including Paul Wilmshurst, the director of 'Mummy on the Orient Express').
And now, twenty eight years after it aired, I am putting words in the mouth of one of it's actors. Her name is Janet Henfrey and in The Singing Detective she played the formidable school teacher that so terrified the young Philip Marlow. She was marvelous then and she is marvelous now, playing Maisie's grandmother, the Mummy's first victim.
I made a point of approaching her at the readthrough to tell her how happy I was that she had the role and how much The Singing Detective had meant to me. I also made sure I was there on set on the day her scene was filmed. I stopped just short of saying that I was really happy that she was my first Doctor Who kill. I didn't want to sound too much like a serial killer. But the link to my personal journey as a writer that she represents really makes me happy. Her character dies in style and really sets the tone for both the monster and the episode.
Bravo, Janet, bravo.