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The unexpected question I ask myself every year

4 min read

Okay, but seriously, how can I get to work on Doctor Who?

It's a dumb question, but my love for this show runs deep - I've been watching it since I was five years old at least. As a non-aggressive, third culture kid who couldn't fit in no matter how he tried, growing up in Britain in the eighties and nineties, the idea of an alien pacifist who solved problems through intelligence, kindness and empathy appealed to me. It still does. It's brilliant. The best show on TV, by far.

I love it. I love watching it. I love reading the books. I dream complete adventures, sometimes. For real.

I don't need to work on it.

Oh, but I do.

I want to play in that universe. I want to take my knowledge of its 55 years of television, and my deep feeling for the character and the whole ethos of the production, and help to build that world. I want to make things that resonate for children in the same way it resonated for me.

It's not about Daleks or Cybermen or reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. It's about the fundamental humanity of telling stories that teach empathy and peace. It's about an action show where the heroes wield understanding and intuition instead of weapons. It's about an institution that genuinely transcends time and space, after 55 years, in a way that its original creators could never have understood. It's a through line to my life and how I see the world.

It's obviously a pipe dream. Still, every year, I ask myself: "am I any closer to working on Doctor Who?"

Every year, the answer is "no".

It's not like I've been working hard to take my life in that direction. I write, for sure; I've had science fiction stories published. But I work in technology - at the intersection of media and tech, for sure, but still on the side of building software and businesses. There was a time when the show was cast aside, and enthusiasts were welcomed to participate - if not with open arms, then with a markedly lower bar than today, when it's one of the hottest shows on TV.

Someone I went to school with did end up working on the show; her dad, Michael Pickwoad, was the production designer for a time. He worked on TARDIS interiors for Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi, among other things. His daughter worked on it with him for a little bit, and was even name-checked in one episode, when her soul was sucked into the internet through the wifi.

I felt a pang of envy for a moment, but mostly I thought it was cool.

What would you even need to do to work on the show? Should I be focusing more on writing fiction? Should I try and write for something else first? Could I maybe find my way into an advisory position, helping the writers to better understand Silicon Valley? (Because, listen, Kerblam! was a good episode, but the ending ruined the parable. Did Amazon ask you to change it?) I don't understand how this industry works; I don't know where to even begin. The show isn't really even for me, anymore; I'm not the six year old watching Peter Davison on BBC1 while I sit cross-legged on the floor. I'm a grown-ass, middle aged man. And who am I to think I can even stand shoulder to shoulder with the people who do this incredible work? People like Malorie Blackman and Vinay Patel, who wrote this year's standout stories?

Like I said: it's a pipe dream. I'm fine. I don't need to be a part of this. I can just enjoy it. I can.

But.

The year is closing out. We're all preparing to turn over new leaves. A new calendar on the wall means a fresh start. There's so much to look forward to, it feels like the world is finally turning a corner, and I'm working on amazing things.

Just ... look. I just need to ask one question. I can't stop myself, as stupid as it is.

Am I any closer to working on Doctor Who?