Friday, 13 March 2009

Hickman Interview

Clayton Hickman, the co-writer of the upcoming Comic Relief Special of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the longest-serving editor of Doctor Who Magazine, and the designer of various Doctor Who merchandise, recently kindly agreed to do an interview with the Tardis Base. You can read our interview with Clayton below, but please note that the following interview is just for the Tardis Base and so it may not be reproduced in any way.

TB: We know you have co-written the upcoming Comic Relief Special of The Sarah Jane Adventures with Gareth Roberts, what can you tell us about it?

Clayton: Nothing at all until it's transmitted I'm afraid. There's only about five minutes of it, so if I spoiled all the jokes and surprises it'd really feel like a flash in the pan. Hopefully it'll make people laugh, and make them consider donating to Comic Relief. Plus, c'mon - Lis Sladen, Ronnie Corbett and K-9? What's not to adore?!

TB: What can you tell us about the character Ronnie Corbett plays? And could you give us a hint on why the Slitheen are returning?

Clayton: Again, sorry, you'll just have to find out on Friday night. He's an Ambassador from outer space, that's as much as I can say. But he's Ronnie flippin' Corbett, so whoever he's playing and whatever he's saying, he'll turn it into comedy gold. The man's a genuine legend and I couldn't be more proud that he agreed to do this sketch. As for any monsters - you'll find out on Friday night. Watch! Enjoy! Donate!

TB: Did you have to work closely with Gareth Roberts when writing the episode?

Clayton: As close as I could get without things feeling a bit wrong and creepy! Gareth and I have been best friends for longer than we care to remember, and we've written Big Finish audio plays and short stories together lots of times before, so it feels very natural to sit together and tap away at the laptop. We took it in turns to type, I should point out!

TB: Is this episode going to be considered canon, and is it going to be more of a comical episode than anything?

Clayton: Well, I don't see why not. We worked hard to make it a sketch that's full of fun and laughs, but not at the expense of Sarah Jane and her friends. They're in a crazy situation here, but they're just as brave and brilliant as they've always been. And as we know from the two series of SJA we've seen so far, the gang have never shied away from jokes and silliness, even when they're busy saving the world!

TB: This is your first script for television, how did you feel when you were asked to write this?

Clayton: It is my first script for television - or, rather, the first one that's been made! - and I was just over the moon when I was asked to co-write with Gareth. And when your first script allows you to write for Sarah Jane, Luke, Clyde, Rani, Mr Smith and K-9... well, that's pretty much as good as it gets. Or, at least until we were told that Ronnie Corbett was on board! Then it got *even better* than that! I'm really over the moon to be involved. I'll be glued to the telly on Friday night. Drunk I expect! Er, on the sheer thrill of it all, I mean!

TB: And now moving away from The Sarah Jane Adventures….. we know you are a designer, and you have contributed covers to Big Finish Productions audio range and you are also a regular cover artist for 2 entertains DVD releases of classic Doctor Who stories, how do you find designing them?

Clayton: The DVD covers are always a challenge - mainly because a lot of the time there just aren't enough good pictures. I'm green with envy at what the cover artist for the new series DVDs has to work with - all those gorgeously lit, excitingly-posed shots! I'm lucky to get a grainy old black and white still of a Vervoid! But it does get the creative juices flowing when you know you have to make an old story look as exciting as possible with some fairly shonky resources. Though I do find that the more I love a story, the harder it is to make a cover worthy of it - I think I just get over-stressed because I want it to be good! When I'm not that fussed, it's often easier, and the covers end up better. I'm very fond of the Four to Doomsday DVD cover, but please don't make me watch the story inside!

TB: You were also the longest-serving editor of Doctor Who Magazine, are you proud of that achievement and how did you find working on the magazine?

Oh I'm endlessly thrilled at having been DWM's longest-serving editor. If anyone ever tries to beat my record I'll throttle 'em! Haha! It was an amazing time, working at DWM. It'll probably be the most exciting and challenging job I shall ever have. And I loved it with all my heart. I arrived at the best possible time, cos I had a couple of years of the wilderness period, where Doctor Who was as good as dead, so I could do anything I wanted with the magazine. Then, just as I was really running out of things to do, along came the new series! And then it was just the most amazing few years. Getting the scripts, going on set, meeting the stars, getting drunk at premieres! Blimey it was fun. And the lucky thing was that we had such support from BBC Wales, cos as luck would have it, I'd known Russell T Davies for a good few years before the show came back. And the same with David Tennant. So it really felt like they were friends - as well as both being fans of DWM for many years. Really happy times. But really *really* hard work. I had to leave when I did, cos eventually I would have gone barmy. It's not a 9 to 5 job, editing DWM. It's with you all the time. And even now, 18 months on, I've still not really shaken it off! Not that I'd necessarily ever want to...

TB: What is your favourite Doctor Who episode, and who is your favourite Doctor, companion and what is your favourite alien?

Clayton: Blimey, I hate this sort of question! Um... It'll change week by week, but I guess my favourite story is probably a toss-up between the first Dalek story, City of Death, Remembrance of the Daleks and Blink. Don't make me pick one!! I don't have a favourite Doctor. I honestly love them all. Sometimes you just want to watch some Hartnell or Troughton, sometimes you can't beat a bit of Tom Baker, sometimes I could gobble up half a season's worth of David Tennant in one sitting! It's all bloody great. Companion-wise, it's either Sarah Jane Smith or Donna. Hm. Or Barbara. Oh this is so hard! But my favourite alien? That one's easy - the Daleks. Hands-down the best things ever. I never tire of them.

TB: What do you think of the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith?

Clayton: I think he looks like he'll be amazing! Those waggling fingers! That sort of air of strangeness about him. Plus he's quite pretty which doesn't hurt! I have utter faith in Steven Moffat to have made the right choice. He loves Doctor Who too much to have picked a wrong 'un! I just can't wait to see what Matt and Steven do with the show in 2010. God, writing that year down it sounds so outer-spacey! 2010! The future starts there! Ha!

Make sure you dont miss the Comic Relief Special of The Sarah Jane Adventures, which will air tomorrow from 7pm to 7.30pm on BBC One as part of Comic Relief Night, and it will star Elisabeth Sladen, Ronnie Corbett, Thomas Knight, Daniel Anthony, Anjli Mohindra, John Leeson and Alexander Armstrong.

Clayton Hickman, the co-writer of the upcoming Comic Relief Special of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the longest-serving editor of Doctor Who Magazine, and the designer of various Doctor Who merchandise, kindly agreed to do an interview with the Tardis Base.

What can we learn from this interview? The special is only 5 minutes long, it appears K9 is in it properly, but the Slitheen aren't mentioned, so I have to ask is Ronnie Corbett one, or was this mentioned before as a red herring?

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