AK Benedict has smashed her way into the Whoniverse by writing the amazing Big Finish release Torchwood: The Victorian Age which was released last week; I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about the Whoniverse and her passion for both Doctor Who and Torchwood.
What was the first Doctor Who episode you ever watched?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t watch Doctor Who so I’m not sure. It was a family staple, still is – my mum is a big Doctor Who fan. The first series I remember well is 18, when I was three. Logopolis is the one that stayed with me: the Master’s laugh haunted me for years.
Who is your Doctor?
I envy people who can answer this easily – I always feel disloyal to other Doctors if I choose just one. The first Doctor I saw/loved? Fourth. The Doctor that showed me I could love again? Fifth. The Doctors I would most love to travel with? Second and Eleventh.
Who is your favourite companion?
Another tough question. In my early viewing, I thought Nyssa was brilliant. When I started watching older episodes, I loved Liz, Leela and Romana, in the modern era it’s between Rose, Donna and Wilfred. I can’t choose. I’m rubbish at this game.
If you could have one trip in the TARDIS, where and when would you go?
I would run off into the depths of the TARDIS and stow away in the hope of more than one trip, like Adric but with less of a love for yellow tunics. I don’t look good in yellow.
Having written a Big Finish story, how did that differ from writing a novel?
Novel writing and writing for audio is a VERY different process. With audio, the pitching process and treatment writing is much more like TV. Most of the heavy-lifting and thinking is done upfront, whereas with a novel I will have an idea, know where I am heading and certain key points to hit along the way but other than that I am walking into the unknown. The best part of writing for Big Finish (other than the first time I wrote CAPTAIN JACK:) was the collaborative aspect. James Goss was absolutely brilliant in giving me guidance; Scott Handcock was a fantastic director; John Barrowman, Rowena Cooper and the cast were great and the sound and music from Kelly Ellis and Blair Mowat respectively turned my script into a shiny thing. There are many people involved in getting a novel into the hands of a reader but this felt very different. The words are only the start of the audio, everyone plays a part in making it work. It felt like a little family: a family with a high percentage of Dr Who T-shirts.
Would you write an episode of televised Doctor Who if given the chance and do you have any ideas?
I WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO! Sorry, did I shout that? THAT’S BECAUSE I’D ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO! Like most fans, I’ve dreamed of writing an episode since I was very small. At four, I wanted to write the show, rejig the theme tune, be the Doctor – showing no signs of megalomania whatsoever. I wrote Dr Who stories at school and had a blue notebook called THE IDEAS TARDIS. So yes. Please. Some day.
What do you think it is about Whovians and Woodies that you feel makes them so loyal and passionate?
There is a lot to be passionate about! Travelling through space and time? With a brilliant, kind, adventure-magnet of an alien? In a sentient box? What’s not to adore? I could get a bit deep about it, involve religion and the thrill of benign danger and power, but mainly it’s FUN!
As for Torchwood, I loved it from the first episode. It veers from bonkers to touching, surreal to sinister in the space of an episode or even a scene and a wonderful team that is fronted by a complex, charismatic immortal who can double-dip an entendre like no one else.
Was there more pressure writing for Torchwood than your other novels?
I put a fair amount of pressure on myself. I love the Whoniverse so much that I didn’t want to let it down in any way, or the people who had trusted me to write it. It felt amazing to be writing for a world that means so much, to me and so many others.
What inspired you when writing The Victorian Age?
I read up on Queen Victoria to get a feel for her life then wandered round the Natural History Museum, deciding which exhibits were alien and finding doors marked PRIVATE. Rooms marked PRIVATE always hide stories.
What’s your favourite televised episode of Torchwood?
I love all of Children of Earth but Day Four is an incredible episode. Heart-breaking.
If you could create your own companion or member of the Torchwood team, what qualities and/or flaws would they have?
Intelligence, fire, wit and hubris: the qualities I’d want in any friend.
I’d like to thank Alexandra again for taking time out to answer these questions, and I personally can’t wait to see what she produces in the future!