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on 21 February 2010
It's a weighty tome,this Writers Tale,and the best word I can come up with as a summation is Giddy. Let me elaborate a little. We race through a couple of years worth of correspondance between Russell and Benjamin (editor of Dr Who Magazine) and in the process learn of things I never thought I'd know. But the thing is I'm not sure I need to know about how much RTD crushes on his male stars...

But I digress.RTD is a stunning writer. He's got faults (hello cybershades) but he knows how to tell a story. The e-mails are written rather self-conciously at times,as if aware of their final purpose, but they definitely have a pace and an accessibility that makes this an easy read. I do wonder if this is all very genuine and whether sometimes he's editing himself mid-sentence / mid-email (there are a few which are just so "staged" it got me thinking). I actually wonder what the editing process was on this book - if there was one. Being the showrunner of the most successful show on British TV must come with a toll few of us can imagine. Every now and then darkness and worry shines through (look at the times some of these were sent!) and these are where this book gains an unexpected weight - and one which makes it worth buying.
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on 8 January 2009
Despite buying hundreds of items from Amazon over the years I have never felt the need to post a review - until now, that is.

I got this book for Christmas and I'm only half way through it, but I just had to add to the list of people praising it.

I'm not going to repeat what's already been written (it's one long chain of email correspondance, it's got lovely cartoons drawn by RTD, some great photos, he's very honest, he leaves writing his scripts til the last minute, he works WAY too hard....oh ok, maybe I have repeated everything), but it's not going too far to say it's the most enjoyable book I've ever read.

Yes I'm a huge Doctor Who fan and of course that adds to my enjoyment, but even if I didn't watch the show I'm certain this book would be just as enjoyable for all the insights into the mind of a writer.

It's fascinating to read his initial thoughts on how a story / episode will look, then follow the various reasons (casting, late scripts, budgets) as to why they had to change before going on air.

His pure enthusiasm for and dedication to the show just drips off the pages, as shown by his early thoughts regarding getting Kylie Minogue and Catherine Tate to appear in the show.

I personally will never label him as "lazy" after watching an episode of the Doc on Saturday again!

It'll certainly be very interesting to see how the show copes when the excellent Steven Moffat takes over in 2010, that's for sure.

If you're any sort of Doctor Who fan at all (note - some of it is unsuitable for kids) then you really should buy this amazing book.

What are you waiting for?? Buy this book now!

Final point - it's a pity when people leave a 1 star review for a book they probably haven't even read (yes Mrs A.P. Hartshorn I'm talking to you).
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VINE VOICEon 24 January 2009
The first thing that makes this book interesting is the format.. a series of emails (and the occasional text) between Russell T Davies, and Benjamin Cook, a journalist who writes many of the Doctor Who articles. This communication continues over a year, whilst the scripts for series 4 are being written, and many aspects were hitting the news, such as David Tennant leaving to play Hamlet, and Steven Moffat taking over from Russell.

The emails are pretty much unedited, and they give quite an interesting insight into Russell himself, and fans of his writing will enjoy references to his other shows, such as Queer As Folk, and Bob and Rose.

It's also a book about writing and story telling - if you ever thought that script writing in particular is easy, prepare to think again!

Above all though, this is of course a book about Doctor Who - it's just fascinating, as a fan, to see the series change and develop; to see Russell change his ideas; and to see how changing circumstances affect the scripts.

Throughout the book are photos, many of which are stills from the show, and cartoon sketched by Russell. As well, of course, as snippets of the scripts.

This isn't really a book for the younger fans, but is, at last, one for the adults. Whether you want to learn more about the man, the writing, or the show, there is plenty to keep you reading.

For fans, it's an absolute must-read!
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on 17 March 2010
I was really looking forward to this and, although the new material doesn`t disappoint, the physical book itself does. Smaller than the original, in paperback and with all those lovely RTD colour illustrations now in B&W, it`s a little less enjoyable to hold in your hand but the text more than makes up for those deficiencies.
The new edition is split into two "books", with all the old material - minus photgraphs and a lot of the actual scripts - making up Book One. Book Two starts 340 pages in and is even more fascinating than Book One and well worth the "double-dip". And if you`re coming to this new, then don`t bother seeking out the first version, buy this instead.
As far as the actual writing side of things is concerned, RTD does himself no favours in portraying himself as Mr Last Minute but you have to admire the man`s honesty. There are some great insights into the mind of a writer and it`s the kind of book you could probably enjoy even if you weren`t into Doctor Who.
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on 26 May 2011
I had the original book and liked it so much that I thought, what the hell! I like these kind of books especially as I am now nearly 50 years young and can remember the last year of William 'Billy' Hartnell and so knowing the history of the show so well...I remember vividly those dark winter nights and that haunting music so well, and so when I heard it was to return I just knew it was in good hands! Russell T Davis takes us to through the highs and lows of the end of David tenents era, magically interwoven with humour and revelations galore! This book was also a mine of information about how to script write, a must as my hobby is writing...but, I digress, just buy this book and enjoy! Daniel
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on 27 September 2010
I love Steven Moffat's confession to RTD: 'I thought you just sat there at the keyboard and laughed all day!'

This is a brutally honest account of life behind the scenes of the new Who, and besides being a fascinating insight into how the series was made, at times it makes you wonder how it WAS ever made.

Full of hilarious disaster-stricken anecdotes and revealing developments in plot and casting, this is a treasure trove for fans of the series, but also an education in screenwriting for aspiring writers. If you're already familiar with the series, you'll be intrigued by the way plots you know in completion actually developed.

Highly recommended read.
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on 3 March 2009
Very revealing insight into the background, script writing and production of the Doctor Who programme. Russel T Davies writes in a brutally honest way about himself, the show and all the people that made this series and other shows that he has been involved in. A very good read, so much so I bought two copies, one for me & one for a friend!
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on 29 May 2013
Depending on which Doctor you are, you might read this book and shout "Fantastic!" or maybe you will shout "Brilliant!" or maybe you'll think, "Books like this are cool". You might even be a boring human. Whatever you are, read this book and love it, because this is not some boring clinical read. You will make friends with the two protagonists, you will broaden your views about life and the world, you will think, you will be moved and then - at the end of it - you will feel the loss of losing two close friends.
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on 6 November 2008
First, the good stuff: this is a bold, honest, naked and funny tome about the writing process for one of television's most acclaimed comebacks. The reader follows Russell T. Davies through the agony and the ectasy of the entire writing process and, goaded along by Benjamin Cook, who acts as much as a muse as an enabler, the cigarette-fuelled revelations are so personal that one can get a contact high from being so ensconced in this man's head.

The pictures (including many beautiful stills during production as well as Davies' insanely brilliant cartoons) are to be cherished as much as the raw scripts that litter the hysterically titled email exchanges between Davies and Cook.

The ugly bits, for me, come from Davies' approach to writing Season 4 of 'Doctor Who.' Davies admits that his writing style is to wait until the last minute to commence drafting - and then waits some more. This sounds very maverick and daring, and for most series it is. Unfortunately, the ambitious arc of the season called for meticulous attention and, like many viewers for Season 4, the reader can gradually feel Season 4 slip away from its creator. While genius is evident in many places (his accounting of the development of 'Midnight' as the anti-'Voyage of the Damned' is stunning), the fact is that the plan to bring back so many characters for the big finale was terribly under-managed. Davies actively struggles with the second coming and going of the Rose Taylor character, but still gives her a sendoff that diminishes Season 2's exit - and taking Donna Noble's potentially heartbreaking departure with it. The reason is, the reader learns, is Davies' wait-til-it's-too-late approach.

The other niggle I have is that there is a tendency for icons (the Beatles, Monty Python) to avoid constructing an actual book by simply having extended monologues that can be read like a script. While this may be considered edgy or original in some circles, this book, moreso than the Beatle or Python books constructed the same, needs some sort of centering mechanism, like an impartial summary or prologue to each chapter written by Benjamin Cook.

Like all honesty from an artist of this magnitude, there will be things that will make the reader wonder to him/herself what's he's on about, or simply what he's on.

Having ranted all that, however, this book is still honest and bold and I'm pleased to have it in my collection.
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on 22 March 2014
Quite simply a superb book about the process of writing and indeed running a massive show like Dr Who.

Russell T. Davies is quite candid in his correspondence with a journalist, and exposes many of his own insecurities as well as giving aspiring writer's some tips on how to create and redraft a story.

I loved reading about how the creative process would change and how their casting ideas didn't always go to plan. A great book.
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