We still don’t know much about what we can expect from upcoming Doctor Who spin-off Class yet (Who’s the alien? What is Shadow? And how much is Peter Capaldi in it?), but we are beginning to learn a little bit about its origins thanks to showrunner Patrick Ness.

The novelist, who is making his TV debut with the BBC sci-fi series, revealed today at Young Adult Literature Con in London that the whole project started when he was asked to get involved with Doctor Who itself – only to turn the tempting offer down flat. 

“At first they asked me to write an episode of Doctor Who,” the A Monster Calls author told the crowd, “and I said it’s a brilliant show, but I’ve just spent so much time doing work for other people, and I really want to do something of my own."

But luckily for Ness (and Whovians worldwide), the Doctor Who producers had a plan B...

“And they said, well we have this idea for setting a spin-off in a school. And it was like, ‘ding’!”

Now, as the series reaches the home stretch, Ness clearly couldn’t be happier that he backed away from the original Doctor Who offer.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “I’ve got six weeks of filming to go. The cast are great, and it’s been a fantastic experience. I can’t wait for you to see it.

“Fingers crossed! It’s going well.” 

Class airs on Saturdays on BBC America