Today we are talking Moray Laing, Editor of the UK’s BBC Doctor Who Adventures magazine, and writer of the Official Doctor Who 2015 Annual.
As you probably know, Doctor Who annuals are a long standing part of the expanded Whoniverse, with one published each year to document another season of adventures in time and space. It’s full of stories, comics and puzzles designed for younger Whovians—but adult fans love to collect them as well. That having been said, we’ve asked Moray to answer a few questions that give us a glimpse into the creation of an annual.
Check out the interview after the break…
1) Doctor Who annuals have been around since the show began. How have they changed in that time?
The early annuals were mainly collections of short stories and, as much as I love them, they didn’t always feel like the adventures you would ever see on television. But they were still loads of fun! In one of the stories in the first annual, the Doctor – or Dr Who as they insisted on calling him – kidnaps a couple of children and their dog Butch. In the annuals today the content has a lot more variety in there – comic strips, short stories, quizzes and loads of essential facts! These days there are more photographs from the series in there too.
2) What was your favorite annual to work on?
I’ve worked on most of the annuals since Penguin started publishing them in 2007, and I’ve enjoyed them all – but I’m especially proud of this year’s. I got the chance to be one of the first people to write for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor in the comic strip – so that was a challenge! I really like the design of this one too – I think it looks beautiful.
3) Which was the first annual you owned?
I talked about Doctor Who all the time when I was little – not much has changed. So, for Christmas when I was nearly four I got the 1976 annual as a present. I looked at the pictures and asked for it to be read to me. For ever more, it was the expected Christmas treat! There was a comic strip in that 1976 annual that, from the pictures, gave me nightmares! Don’t read The Psychic Jungle if you’re under five, that would be my advice.
4) Tell us about how the Doctor Who annuals are put together.
With the last two annuals, Penguin gave me a brief and asked me to put together a pitch of the content and plan it all out. When this was approved by Penguin and the BBC I started writing it. It’s a fun job.
5) Where do the ideas for content come from?
I have ideas all the time! I’m the Editor of BBC Doctor Who Adventures magazine in the UK (a magazine for younger Doctor Who fans) so I work on features and activities for this age group all the time. Young readers want to be entertained, learn new facts and have fun. For this current annual, I tackled the fiction element first – When the Wolves Came was the start of a plot I’d had going round in my head for years – I’ve always thought it would be magical to come across the TARDIS and it looked after you. Because a lot of the stories in Series 8 are centred around Coal Hill School, I knew I wanted to feature that in the comic strip – but with a difference.
6) Who is your favorite Doctor?
You can’t ask me that! It’s all the same person and I love them all. OK then, if you’re making me choose just one it would have to be Tom Baker. He took me aboard the TARDIS as a young viewer all those years ago, so I’ve got to thank him for that really, don’t I? I see a lot of similarities to the Fourth Doctor in Peter Capaldi’s Doctor – the alien who is your best friend, impulsive, dangerous and unpredictable. I’m sure I’ve seen him channelling the Tom Baker a few times in his performance this year. Even down to the return of the jelly baby!