Still with me? Good. I thought The Doctor’s Wife was awesome, absolutely amazing. I think it’s easily one of my favourite New Who episodes so far. Dramatic, funny, moving and full of imagination and innovation.

The funny thing for me is a fair portion of it felt vaguely familiar.

In February last year, Big Finish ran a competition for a Fifth Doctor audio drama which I entered … and didn’t get anywhere. This was the idea, if anyone’s interested:


For anyone who can’t be arsed to read the entire page, and I would definitely fall into that camp if it weren’t my blog, the salient points are: TARDIS gets inhabited by baddy who uses the ship’s gravity, atmosphere, architecture and telepathic circuits to try and kill the Doctor’s companion (Nyssa, in this case) and the only way to defeat him is to flush him out from the secondary console room.

Similar-ish, yes?

Obviously, I’m in no way suggesting any kind of foul play. I doubt very much if a rejected idea for Big Finish would wind up in Neil Gaiman’s hands; nor do I for one instant believe @NeilHimself needs to appropriate anyone else’s ideas – rather I think it serves as an illustration of coincidence and of very different people thinking along similar lines.

So the next time you hear someone complaining of how the BBC stole their idea because it’s vaguely similar to something they once told a BBC janitor at a party in 1973 … just gently remind them they’re talking shit.

Your idea isn’t that unique – it may be good; but if you can think of it, so can someone else.

Especially if that someone else is a multi-award winning best-selling author famed for his vivid imagination. Ideas are ten a penny, it’s the execution which counts.

And let’s be blatantly honest, the real genius in The Doctor’s Wife isn’t the possessed TARDIS bit – it’s giving the TARDIS a human voice. I wish I’d thought of it.

Categories: BBC, Industry Musings, My Way, Someone Else's Way | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Coincidence

  1. It was an awesome episode – and a similar thing happened to me only a couple of weeks ago*.

    == spoiler ==

    *I mean the similar story thing, I can’t claim that my Tardis has hijacked by a planetoid-sized sea urchin.

  2. The experience of seeing “your idea” written or successfully produced by someone else, can be deflating if you’ve put a lot of work into the script. On the other hand, it’s always nice to know your ideas and creative skills are on a par with the good and the great…

  3. I really enjoyed the episode and thought Neil Gaiman did a brilliant job with the script.

    As for the ‘oh no, that’s my idea’ feeling, we’ve all had it (without thinking that the idea has been pinched, just thinking that if we’re seeing it on screen, our version won’t ever get made) but the melodrama of thinking that it’s exactly the same and that it has been stolen always makes me think of people who kill themselves when they don’t play the lottery one week and ‘their’ numbers come up. It always turns out that there are only three of the winning numbers in their usual set – they are imagining the rest of it.

    And… you have some lovely avatars for guests commenting on your blog. I hope I get a good one.

  4. Oh yes! Very happy with that.

  5. Pingback: 2011 « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

  6. “And let’s be blatantly honest, the real genius in The Doctor’s Wife isn’t the possessed TARDIS bit – it’s giving the TARDIS a human voice. I wish I’d thought of it.”

    I did – in the 2008 IDW Miniseries DOCTOR WHO: THE FORGOTTEN. Which was still coming out when Neil started writing the episode. So coincidences everywhere!

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