Acclaimed fantasy author and Doctor Who writer Neil Gaiman has said that his experience working on Doctor Who left him with “a bad taste in my mouth” because he had no say in the final project.
Gaiman, who wrote The Doctor’s Wife in 2011 and Nightmare in Silver in 2013 for the show, said that relinquishing control of his scripts made him more determined to have creative control over his subsequent projects like the adaptation of Good Omens, the book he co-authored with the late Terry Prachett, which is being adapted into a series by Amazon starring David Tennant.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Gaiman said of his episodes:
“I did two episodes of Doctor Who over the last decade, one I loved and it won awards, one I do not love and it is widely regarded as having some good bits in it but being rather a curate’s egg.
“As far as I’m concerned both of the scripts were of equal quality but the biggest differences were having a say in what actually got to the screen, a say in what got changed, a say in what got rewritten, a say in the colour scheme, a say in all those things.”
Gaiman’s experience was so bad that when he was approached by Terry Prachett to work on the adaptation, he would only commit to it if he came on board as showrunner.
“I’m glad my second Doctor Who episode left me with a bad taste in my mouth because that is why, when Terry said ‘You have to make this thing’, I was like ‘If I’m going to do it then I am going to be showrunner because I can’t just write the scripts, hand them over to somebody and hope that I get something fantastic back, I may or I may not.
“If this is going to be f***** up it’s going to be f***** up by me personally with love and dedication.
“And I hope that it isn’t but it needs to be done properly and I need to care.”
While it might be tempting to draw conclusions about his own work from that last line about caring for a project, the difference between Doctor Who and Good Omens is his dear, departed friend Terry Prachett who passed away in 2015 – there will never be another project quite like it.
“I am never going to do what I’ve done in Good Omens again, in the sense that here are four years of my life and I’m going to spend them writing and rewriting and making and in post-production and promoting one thing, which I’m doing basically because my dead friend asked me to, that is never going to happen again.
“With Amazon I am going to create things, I am going to write things, I am going to find terrific collaborators but I also have novels to write, I also have a family, I would like to see daylight, we have pictures of what our wives look like, it’s going to be a balancing act.”
So it seems unlikely that Neil Gaiman will write for Doctor Who again unless he’s given total creative freedom or a magic watch that freezes time. Start your Gaiman for showrunner rumours here!
Good Omens will stream via Amazon Prime Video in 2019.