Matt Fitton is one of the staples of Big Finish. If you’ve listened to any Big Finish story from the past few years, chances are Matt has had his hand in it in some way. If you search for ‘Matt Fitton’ in the Big Finish search bar, you get given a whopping 73 hits; so this guy knows his stuff about Big Finish and Doctor Who. I was lucky enough to be able to have a chat with Matt about Big Finish and Doctor Who, and here’s what he had to say…
What was the first Doctor Who episode you ever watched?
I know my mum watched the programme, so being a 1970 baby, I believe I would have absorbed much of the Pertwee era by osmosis! I’ve a few vivid flashes of memory such as Lynx taking off his helmet in The Time Warrior and Sarah Jane menaced by spiders – but it’s from Robot onwards that I remember whole stories.
Who is your Doctor?
Of course, my ‘favourite’ changes all the time, depending on what I’m most recently watched, heard, read – or written! There is something about every Doctor to love and they all seize the role brilliantly and uniquely. But when people ask about ‘my’ Doctor, the one I identify most with the character, I refer to my previous answer. I was raised on Tom Baker’s era: seven years which took me all the way through my childhood up to age 11, so how could it be anyone other than the Fourth? Having said that, the 1996 TV Movie saw a renaissance of my Doctor Who interest and I was delighted when Paul McGann joined Big Finish, as it felt like we were getting brand new adventures with a current Doctor – and that’s how I feel writing his era now.
Who is your favourite companion?
Such a difficult call once again… I like companions with a hint of the alien about them: Susan, Leela, Turlough & Romana (both of her!) – but at the same time, there are also the ones who are so vividly human, real and heroic: Ian, Steven, Tegan, Donna.
So if I’m going to pick one, I’d have to go with a companion who combines the best of both worlds: super-intelligent, loyal, yet with the very human flaw of being rather full of himself. Yes, it’s K9.
If you could have one trip in the TARDIS, where would you go?
Much as I’d be tempted by a trip back to Classical times – the Roman Empire at its height, or to meet the Ancient Greek philosophers – I think it has to be a trip into the unknown and into the future. Billions of years forward, to Russell T Davies’ New Earth and beyond, to see what becomes of humanity and all the weird and wonderful creatures we might meet.
What is your favourite Big Finish story that you’ve had an involvement with?
You keep asking for favourites – but I love everything I’m working on. That’s why I keep doing it. One ongoing series that most excites me – because we’ve barely scratched the surface of where it can go and how different it can be to Doctor Who – is River Song. Alex Kingston so enjoys doing them, and I hope she’ll be having adventures well after we’ve exhausted all the Doctors, so we can follow River on her own, and into many distant corners of the Whoniverse, for years to come.
What is it about Whovians that makes them so passionate and loyal?
There is so much variety in Who that there is inevitably something for everyone: whether Inferno, Love & Monsters, The Happiness Patrol, The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Then the fact that every story is part of a great pantheon, a universe, appeals to those of us who like making lists. Add into that the fact that so many people on both sides of the camera are so interesting and engaged, the whole behind-the-scenes aspect has an appeal all its own. I guess the fans are passionate and loyal because often, so are the people making the show. Then, as we saw with the 2005 revival, those fans might go on to make the show themselves – so it’s a self-feeding loop and will never, ever die!
If you could create your own companion, what qualities and/ or flaws would they have to have?
Someone very human. I loved writing Hex and Sally Morgan for Big Finish. Someone along those lines, but from a different period in history, or a different part of the world perhaps.
Would you write an episode for the Doctor Who on TV if offered, and do you have any ideas saved for such an occasion?
TV is clearly a very different animal to audio drama. But of course, who wouldn’t want to write? As always, I’d aim to come up with the best story I can. It’s probably best not to go in with any pre-conceived ideas, as the way things work, there will be parameters. I do like things where it feels like the walls are closing in: Inside the Spaceship [Also known as The Edge of Destruction]
, The Horror of Fang Rock
, Heaven Sent
– all genius ways of stripping the formula right down and having the Doctor and friends fight to escape the situation.
What advice do you have for any aspiring scriptwriters, and how do you get your work noticed?
I think keep writing and keep finishing things are the main lessons I can pass on. Look out for opportunities (BBC Writers Room is always good for this) – if nothing else, these kinds of competitions give you deadlines to hit. I think you get noticed for things like Doctor Who by being successful in writing in general. I know I’m in an incredibly fortunate position in that all my writing has stemmed from an open submission opportunity, but you are only ever as good as your last piece of work. When we look for new people, generally it helps if they have a body of work – produced stage plays, radio play, or published prose – that we can use to get the measure of them. So, write things, finish them & get them made – which with vimeo and youtube is at least more possible now.
Can you tease anything unannounced that you’re working on?
Probably not as David Richardson would hang, draw & quarter me (all right – maybe he’d just give me a hard stare, which is just as bad). But three words from an as yet unannounced script I am currently writing are “soldier” “crash” and “frog”…
I’d like to thank Matt Fitton again for taking time out of his incredibly hectic schedule to answer these questions for us! Be sure to follow him on Twitter @MattieF!