BBC Project – Doctor Who Animated Series Bible – Part 1

A single frame of a test animation I did to show how such a shot might look. The background is a nebula.

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

Continuing on from the initial post I present the first bit of the Doctor Who animated series bible for BBC Wales R&D Department.  I’ll split this stuff up over a number of posts because there is rather a lot of it.  As with yesterday, I won’t be re-editing it, so the grammar and spelling errors are all from the original document.

This first bit is the general introduction and character outline. I finished the whole bible on 19th January, 2003.  Phil Balaam was pretty happy with it and the rest of the work the team gave him – sketches and renders all showing that we were serious about the work.

The reason I haven’t named some of the other members of the team so far is that I need to check back through my emails – basically I don’t want to miss anyone out.  I will hopefully provide a full list in the next few days, then go back and edit the first post to add them in.

I was a bit upset yesterday to discover that the copies of the incoming emails on this PC have become corrupted. However I have other copies of the directory burnt to at least a couple of CDs, because natually I never wanted to lose this stuff, so hopefully I should still have all that correspondence.  Plus, I do still have all my outgoing emails, complete with quoted text of what I was replying to.  So worst case, I’ve got half the info, but I should have it all, it’s just a matter of finding it.

And naturally some of the others will have stuff, too.  And Cliff Bowman, being at the centre of the project and managing it, hopefully has all of it!  Imagine what a great guest he would make! (hint hint)

Doctor Who

New Series Bible

For the new series to be all that it can be, it has to be accessible to a new audience.  While not ignoring the fans of the original series, they are only a small part of the overall viewing audience.  Someone who has never seen or heard of Doctor Who before must be able to sit down and enjoy the show, unencumbered by 26 years of occasionally contradictory internal history.

The show original continuity shouldn’t be ignored and it won’t be.  It will instead be treated as back-story.  We should try, where appropriate, to remember this back-story.  However we shouldn’t be constrained by it.  If, to tell a great story we have to ignore or rewrite a part of the established history of the original series, so be it.  In those instances the one question we should ask is, is the change in history important to tell the story?  If the answer is yes, then so be it.

Our approach to Doctor Who is from the point of view of a drama/adventure series, albeit one with science fiction trappings.  Any season should contain a range of stories, from mysteries to allegorical tales to surrealistic fare, drama or anything that is a good story well told.  Any writer would need to keep certain important things in mind.

The Doctor is a moral character, as is his companion.

Time travel within the series is a tool to storytelling.  It gets us to other times and planets and that’s where our stories take place.  It is not a story idea in and of itself.

The Doctor cannot control his ship with any degree of accuracy.

Our characters should win the day through use of their intelligence, inventiveness and wits, not just big guns.

If existing human history, cultures or scientific theories are being dealt with in a story, all facts should be double-checked.  Also, when dealing with controversial theories or ideas, a balanced argument is always preferable.  i.e. There are many good reasons why genetically modified foods are a good idea, but there are just as many good reasons why the practise should be avoided or minimised.

And finally, and this can’t be stressed enough, though the series is to be animated, it must be written with the same care and attention to character and story as if it was being filmed with live actors.  Writing for this series of Doctor Who must be taken as seriously as if you were writing for the original series in its heyday.  Albeit, with fewer budgetary restrictions.

The original series was a flagship product of the BBC, this series should not set its goals any lower.

Characters

            THE DOCTOR

At the time the series starts, the Doctor has been travelling with his new companion Phoebe for around a month.  Her father asked him to become her guardian, a responsibility the Doctor takes seriously, though his desire to show her all the wonders of the universe often leads them into difficult and dangerous situations.

Prior to Phoebe, the Doctor has been travelling alone for a few centuries.  He had become a solitary character, tired of the death and destruction that surrounded him, and had grown old in his present body.  But now he is rediscovering life and the universe anew, thanks to his young companion.

He relishes her curiosity and enthusiasm and indeed, finds it infectious.  He has a boyish zest for adventure and travel.  He’s like a seven year old, filled with energy, curiosity and excitement at the world around him, though occasionally hampered by his millennia old body.

The Doctor will not take a life unnecessarily.  He will kill, but only when his own life or the lives of innocents are directly threatened, and even then, only if he has no other option.

He hates guns, is anti-authoritarian when he finds the authorities he’s dealing with show themselves to be ignorant.

The Doctor is brave, but not stupid.  He never mentions his age or race to anyone.  If questioned about his age, he will deflect the question and quickly become annoyed at anyone who thinks of him as old.

PHOEBE

Is a 14 year old girl who joined the Doctor after the death of her father during the Blitz in London, April 1941.  Her father was her last surviving relative, her mother having died of consumption only a year before.  She still misses her parents greatly, though her adventures with the Doctor help keep her mind from dwelling on her loss too much.

Phoebe is well-educated, bright, curious and thoughtful.  She loves travelling with the Doctor and cares very much for the old man, but she still occasionally misses the familiarity of 1940’s London.  Sometimes she’ll see a group of children her own age playing or going to school and for just a few moments we can see that it’s something that she still occasionally longs for.

Phoebe, when in a dangerous or deadly situation, never just screams.  She’s more likely to shout, whether it’s to call for help or warning the bad guy to keep away from her.

She does enjoy gently teasing the Doctor about his inability to steer the Tardis and his age, but is careful not to step over the line and actually insult her friend.

Coming from the 1940’s means that technology isn’t such a difficult thing for her to comprehend.  She’s thrilled any time the Doctor lets her touch the Tardis console, considering it an honour.  She’s full of questions, and often asks the Doctor about the times and places that they visit.

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