Thursday, 31 May 2012

BBC Doctor Who - Doctor Who: The Adventure Games and An Interview with Phil Ford

From BBC Doctor Who

Next week it will be two years since Doctor Who: The Adventure Games exploded onto our screens with City of the Daleks. 

Blood of the Cybermen, TARDIS and Shadows of the Vashta Nerada followed in 2010 whilst 2011 saw the release of the epic The Gunpowder Plot, the most ambitious of the lot that boasted an all-star cast including Emilia Fox, Ralf Little and Phil Daniels. These five games finally gave you the chance the fight Cybermen and Sontarans, fly the TARDIS, try the sonic screwdriver and basically be the Doctor!

Every Adventure Game remains available to download from this site and they’re free within the UK. It’s hard to believe their second anniversary is upon us, and when asked about the origin of the games, their Senior Producer, Mat Fidell, commented, ‘We are always trying to explore new ways of telling Doctor Who stories and games have always been phenomenally successful for Doctor Who – so the Adventure Games were a perfect fit.’

The games were – and remain – very much part of the Doctor Who universe that we see in the television episodes. Every care was taken to make sure that starting with City of the Daleks, the world of the games would have the feel of the TV series. Of course, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan voiced the Doctor and Amy with Arthur Darvill (Rory) joining them for The Gunpowder Plot and all three had their movement captured to ensure the figures in the games moved like their onscreen equivalents.

The award-winning Phil Ford (The Waters of Mars, Dreamland, The Sarah Jane Adventures) wrote all but one of the games, Doctor Who veteran Gary Russell served as Drama Producer whilst Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis were on-board as Executive Producers. There were several cast member cross-overs including Nicholas Briggs and later, Dan Starkey and even the music was by the brilliant Murray Gold, the show’s composer since 2005.

‘It [making the Adventure Games] was a unique experience,’ Mat Fidell recalls, calling them, ‘A true hybrid production, bringing together the story-telling skills of the Doctor Who Production team and the game design talent of Charles Cecil and Sumo.’

An Interview with Phil Ford

Next week it will be two years since the launch of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games and so we caught up with Phil Ford, the man who wrote all but one of games. In the first part of this exclusive interview, Phil told us about the enemies that didn’t quite make it and how Guy Fawkes really died…

Looking back over the past two years, what are your strongest memories of your involvement with The Adventure Games?
Phil Ford: Looking back, my strongest memory of the last two years – as with everything else I write – is the first time I’ve seen the finished project. I think seeing your script turned into something action-packed, thrilling, funny and maybe scary on a screen, whether that’s a TV screen or a computer monitor, is what it’s all about. And this was something special. I’d done animation before, but never as part of a computer game.

Which was your favourite to write?
PF: It’s hard to pick a favourite, because all of them were such fun and look so amazing. But because most writers might never get a chance to write the Daleks or the Cybermen and I wrote for them both, one after another, I would have to say City of the Daleks and Blood of the Cybermen were my favourites.

Were there any plans to bring back enemies that didn’t make it?
PF: It’s no secret, because I’ve said it so many times in so many places that I’d love to bring back the Sea Devils and for a short while we did talk about using them in the story that became Shadows of the Vashta Nerada.

The Gunpowder Plot is incredibly rich in historical detail that really brings the story to life. How long did it take you to research and write?
PF: The Gunpowder Plot was a great story to write. It’s history and I love history. More than that, it’s one of those stories that everyone knows – or at least think they know. We did a fair bit of research – well a lot of it was done by Gary Russell, who directed it, and we had input from the BBC’s education department. I’d be lying if I said I did much more than look at Wikipedia. But we did do research, it was important to preserve the historical facts. Even if Sontarans and the Rutan Host weren’t necessarily historically accurate!

You say it’s a story people ‘think they know’. Whilst finding out about the Gunpowder Plot, what fact surprised you most about that period or the plot?
PF: I suppose the most surprising fact about the whole story that came to light in researching The Gunpowder Plot was that Fawkes – despite the legend – was never hung drawn and quartered. As Fawkes was led to the gallows, he actually jumped from the ladder and broke his neck.

Who are your personal favourite monsters and why?
PF: My personal favourite monsters of all time are probably the Cybermen. But I also love the Vashta Nerada, that whole idea of there being something in the shadows waiting to eat you is just classic horror. And who can’t list the Daleks among their favourites?

Big thanks to Phil Ford for sharing his memories. We’ll be bringing you the second part of the interview soon.

And don’t forget, you can download and play them now!

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