Ahead of Doctor Who's 60th anniversary, writer Toby Whithouse has said that the show and its broadcaster, the BBC, need to be "protected".


Whithouse, who was once tipped to become showrunner for Doctor Who, has written across various different eras of the show, first contributing to the show in season 2 with his episode School Reunion and later writing scripts for Steven Moffat on a regular basis.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com about the show's milestone, he said: "I'm so thrilled it’s got this longevity, I'm so thrilled it's survived in the way it has and the way that it constantly reinvents itself.

"It’s a very mercurial shadow, in the way that it’s able to change its shape and sort of change, so much about it and yet retain something and yet retain its kind of essential DNA.

"So it gives me a lot of hope that we'll be having this conversation for its 70th. It's really exciting. It’s such a beautiful, precious show that I sometimes worry for it, but then, you know, it's lasted this long for a reason."

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He added: "The BBC is under threat from so many different corners and Doctor Who, and by extension the BBC, is this very precious, exquisite thing should be protected and valued."

Thinking back to his experience writing for various different showrunners and Doctors, he reflected: "I just absolutely loved it. It felt like a real treat, a kind of treat like buying yourself a Christmas present, doing an episode of Doctor Who. It was just a joy because it was a very different muscle to the other the shows I would do, my own shows included, and so it was kind of like a holiday!"

Matt Smith
Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. BBC

While he contributed to Russell T Davies's first era, Whithouse mostly wrote in collaboration with Moffat for episodes like The Vampires of Venice, The God Complex, and A Town Called Mercy as well as various season 9 episodes.

Giving an insight into their writing process, Whithouse recalled: "With The God Complex, Steven said, 'I want to do an episode where the Doctor and Amy are trapped in a hotel and the walls keep moving' and that was kind of it as far as I remember.

"So he kind of just pitched that as an initial meeting and over the course of that meeting, just talked through various vague ideas...

"I came away from that and I was thinking, 'So the hotel is like a a maze,' and I've always been interested in the Greek myths, so I was thinking, so what lived in a maze? A minotaur! Is there any way that at the centre of this hotel maze, there's a minotaur? And it sort of expanded from that."

As for adding the literal nightmare fuel to the episode, he added: "That was one of those changes that, at first, makes you go, 'Oh god, that's massive', but actually it's the thing that unlocks the episode."

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He went on: "With A Town Called Mercy, Steven had this idea that there's a town in the Wild West and there's a robot walking round it.

"We just sort of riffed from that and I think the first scene that came to mind was a scene that happens quite far into he episode where there's a lynch mob kind of surrounding the sheriff's house and they want him to bring out the prisoner and that's the first scene I had. Then in both directions, it sort of spread out from that."

As for The Vampires of Venice, he remembers his "terminally long" script, admitting: "There were lots of necessary, quite savage cuts within it."

"But again, that was a real joy," he added, "because that was the first one I wrote for Matt Smith and the first one I wrote for Steven. That was a really exciting script to write."

Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer with episodes of the classic series also available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

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