In the 50 years since Doctor Who began on TV, it’s often seemed like the ideal candidate for cinematic success. But it’s a concept that’s been surprisingly difficult to get off the ground.
this book covers every attempt by film producers to get the rights, get the money and get the film made, from the two Peter Cushing movies of the ’60s (the only films to ever actually get produced), to scripts written by Tom Baker and Ian Marter and attempted team-ups with Hollywood luminaries such as Steven Spielberg and Leonard Nimoy.
While the early films ( Dr Who And The Daleks , and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 AD ) seemed to be propelled by a momentum that took them swiftly from rights acquisition to cinema release, every attempt since then has stalled before cameras have started rolling. Financing is often the culprit – and this is also the tale of the rise and fall of the British film industry, and the bombshell effect that Star Wars had on the genre – as well as the BBC’s increasingly controlling attitude to its creation. It’s impossible not to sympathise with the producers who spent year after year working on the project, mortgaging their own homes, only to eventually be booted on a contract technicality – especially when their proposed plot actually sounded pretty good.
In general, though, the detailed plot outlines of each potential script are the weakest part of this volume. There’s an almost ridiculous level of detail given (we’re not sure how necessary it is to include the date and place of birth of everyone involved). Still, for a sometimes dry subject matter this is an immersive book; for fans the stories of development hell make for an intriguing tale of things that (mostly) never came to be
Rhian Drinkwater twitter.com/rhian82