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Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - The Final Chapter

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  856 ratings  ·  95 reviews
When The Writer's Tale was published in autumn 2008, it was immediately embraced as a classic. For this extensively revised and updated paperback edition, Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook continue their candid and in-depth correspondence to take in work on the last of Russell's 2009 specials - and the end of David Tennant's era as The Doctor - while also looking back to ...more
Paperback, 736 pages
Published January 14th 2010 by BBC Books (first published January 2010)
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4.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  856 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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Ben Dutton
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many hundreds of books about writing – some of them are very good indeed. When I taught creative writing at university, I used to wax lyrical about Stephen King’s On Writing, but also about E.M Forster’s Aspects of the Novel and Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer. To that inestimable list I can now add The Writer’s Tale by Doctor Who head Russell T Davies.

When this book first appeared in 2008, it was hailed as a masterpiece. Included in top ten lists at the end of the year, appearing
Holly Heisey
Mar 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, Doctor Who fans
I'm a huge fan of Russell T. Davies' big, epic writing in the new Doctor Who, so as a writer I welcomed this chance to peek inside his head, through his email correspondence with journalist Benjamin Cook. What I found surprised me, enlivened me, heartened me; made me laugh and cry and say, "yes, I know that exactly!" He's candid, sordid, "big and blousy," and funny. He doesn't sugar coat things; many parts are painfully honest.

But here unfolds the twin story of one of the most successful shows o
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Amazing adventure. Voyage not only into great screenwriter's head, but also into life of very interesting, very kind, very funny person. Two weeks ago I didn't especially like RTD. I love RTD now. Hard work. Sleepless nights. Doubts. Constant strive for perfection, for improvement. But above all - fun and happiness, because it's the best TV show ever created, isn't it? And pride. Quite justified. I really enjoyed reading about the creative process, abandoned ideas, evolving stories. About Davies ...more
Katherine Sas
This book is not for Doctor Who fans.

I mean, it is. Of course it is. It's co-written by one of the great Doctor Who writers and a columnist for Doctor Who magazine, chronicling a three year period of making the show, and they constantly talk about the process of making Doctor Who.

But really, this book isn't only (or even primarily) about Doctor Who. If you are interested in writing, or the writing process, this book is for you. If you're interested in the aesthetics and production of TV, too. In
Richard Wright
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Oh dear. The original Writer’s Tale in hardback was in my top five books in 2008. In it, Russell T. Davies gives a year’s worth of correspondence detailing agonies and wonders of writing and producing his final regular season of Doctor Who. I loved it, and declared it to be one of only a handful of books I’ve read about writing that I needed to read. Now comes the paperback release, except it contains another three hundred pages, continuing the story through the year in which he produced the fiv ...more
Jay Bell
Apr 07, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is a series of emails between Russel T. Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook. I found that disappointing at first, but most of the emails are long rants from Davies about what it is like to be a writer, so it isn't far from what a proper book from him might have been like. I think writers would get the most from this book, since the interesting tidbits on Doctor Who are few and far in between.

This new edition contains 300 pages of new material, which mostly consist of Davies feeling str
Michael Mills
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: television
On his Who's Round podcast (in which he interviews various people who've been involved in Doctor Who over the years), Toby Hadoke got very annoyed with those listeners who only downloaded the episodes in which he interviewed Russell T Davies.

I do feel for Hadoke but I understand why listeners reacted in that way: it's not just that Davies was far more notable a contributor than Geoffrey J. Cravat and most of the others Hadoke has interviewed (as showrunner from 2005 to 2010, he oversaw the se
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I'll be straight with you. If you're not a follower of the sci-fi/fantasy television series Doctor Who, there's probably little reason for you to read this book (or this review, for that matter). It's not just about Doctor Who, of course. It's about British television in the early part of the first decade of this century, and, above all, it's about writing, but to get to that, you 'll be wading up to your waist in Doctor Who and if you're not a Whovian, you'll just get lost, trust me.

Shannon Roberts
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I only write to find out about myself, and I'll only achieve that if I'm honest."

I'd always admired Davies. I was a big Doctor Who fan; while I enjoyed Moffit's tenure as show-runner, Davies will always be *my* writer (well...possibly him and Cartmel).

But to get an inside glimpse of Davies' have another writer, and a damn good one, talk about his struggles, his fears, his procrastinations--as well as his triumphs and successes...I just don't think there's another book on writing o
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. So much so, that I began rationing the final few chapters to make it last longer. It gives a real insight into the creative process of one of my favourite show. Its really dispels the myth of the professional writer, sitting down in their office at a set time and typing the whole day away. I love the fact that Russell T Davies appears to approach writing episodes in the same way I approached student essays, (minus the coffee and cigarettes). The idea that one of the ...more
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two years worth of email correspondence between Doctor Who showrunner Russel T. Davies and some spod from Dr Who magazine, that ends up as a writing guide that's actually worth reading. These are dispatches that come direct from the front line of writing a hugely successful television show, and they trace many of Davies' ideas from formation to onscreen realisation, and give a great insight into the pressures, the panic and the immense workload that occasionally drove him to the edge of despair. ...more
Marcus Gipps
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I've always liked Russell T Davies' writing - I've seen everything since Queer as Folk, and greatly enjoyed his Doctor Who novel Damaged Goods. I'm also a Who fan, so it probably wasn't hugely surprising that I was very very excited about the return of the series back in 2005. Luckily for me, I've generally enjoyed it, so I don't know why I didn't read the original version of this book - the idea of Davies writing about his writing process, and the production of such a successful show, wouldn't ...more
Larry Zieminski
Oct 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Consisting entirely of e-mails between Russell T. Davies (show-runner for the New Doctor Who Series through the first 4 seasons + year of specials) and Benjamin Cook (journalist from the Doctor Who Magazine), we given a behind the scenes look at how the last two years of Doctor Who (under Davies) came together.

The most interesting aspect of the book is seeing how insecure Mr. Davies could be, despite the brilliant work he produced. He's also quite the procrastinator, something
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography, dw
Finished part two in a day on Kindle. Want my own hardcover/paperback badly
Samwise Diamond
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Writer's Tale is a must-read for any writers who want to know what it's like working on a huge television production like Doctor Who.

The book consists almost exclusively of emails, particularly between Russell T. Davies (Dr Who show-runner 2005-2009) and Benjamin Cook (journalist from Doctor Who Magazine). These emails span around two years as the show hits its stride and finds itself central in the public eye, raising the stakes for all involved. As such, we see the inception of Davies' ep
Aya Vandenbussche
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think I like the first boom, A Writer's Tale" a little more than this second part. The Final Chapter occasionally felt self indulgent abs less about the writing process than the first part. Nevertheless with some brilliant moments of insight and greatness.
The more I read the more I can't stand Benjamin Cooke, but RTD is often clever witty and intelligent which really is what's important about this book.
I did find myself occasionally frustrated with how blind RTD could sometimes be to his own
Simon Billinton
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a Doctor Who fan and of the craft of writing, I was looking forward to reading this behind the scenes insight into writing and making the show. And it doesn't disappoint. The format is email correspondences spread over months and years between Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook as Russell was making the show. And what is revealed is that writing and making Doctor Who is a seat-of-your-pants kinda experience. Everything comes at you fast, from every angle, and relentlessly. The demand to write ...more
Matt Whitby
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best book on writing. Period.
When I first scanned through this book's sample to see if I'd like it, I was intrigued by the format. A TV writer and a journalist (in other words, two writers) bouncing emails about the process of writing back and forth? Oh, but if you take it at that value alone there's so much to be missed!

If you're looking for a straightforward "how to write a hit television sci-fi show," you're not going to be happy. Nor is this about the philosophy of writing, of television, nor an exegesis on thee program
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody with even a slight interest in screenwriting
Shelves: own-the-book
Russell T. Davies: The Man Who Brought Back Doctor Who
Over the years that Davies was the head writer of Doctor Who, he emailed his friend and colleague Benjamin Cook (although exactly what he worked as escapes me). Now, every email over a two years have been published into book form, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a show that's been watched by multiple generations.

This book took me over a year to read. Not because it was boring, quite the opposite, but just because it was so bi
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish they'd have issued the final chapter as a sequel in it's own book, rather than put the two together.

The first original part is perfect and magnificent. I kept making highlights and sidenotes. Someone who has no clue of the show would probably be lost and bored, but it's enough to have seen most episodes and have a love or interest in writing to enjoy this.

The final chapter part I'd say is only for actual fans of the show. We hardly get new insight into writing, it is much more about the
Nicholas Whyte
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Davies and Cook exchanged emails and texts for the last two years of Davies' tenure as show-runner of Doctor Who (ie 2007-2009), so the narrative is spontaneous, spur of the moment, and feels very genuine (though of course the reader cannot know what has been edited out in the process). I had already read the first half, and Cook and Davies spend some time in the second half discussing the reception of the original version. Davies is perpetually struggli
Hannah Reed
I am worried this will turn into just a gushing session, so I apologise in advance. This book is definitely my favourite book I've read this year so far, I found the entire thing so enjoyable to read and incredibly hard to put down.

This is probably the most honest book I've ever read. I've read quite a few autobiographies, but none of those have ever made me feel like I really understand the person I'm reading about, and this isn't even really an autobiography. Russell T Davies seemed to pour
Katja Tormanen
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you love Doctor Who, if you love writing - this is The Book.
Kristina Brown
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: doctor-who
First off, "The Final Chapter" is more like "The Full Tale". This isn't simply a reprint of "The Writer's Tale" with some extra chapters, it is literally twice the book.
Russell T. Davies has been incredibly open with his correspondence and, whether you like what he's written or not, you have to admire him for that. The fact is he's made the Doctor Who revival into a huge commercial success. I don't always like the direction the show has taken but I'd still call Russell T. Davies a genius for wha
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction-fun
Okay - it is fair to say that I am biased in writing this review as I have loved the 2005-2011 series of Dr Who - or NuWho as it gets called... and I think Russell T Davies is brilliant. So I started reading this book thinking it would give a good insight into what happens behind the scenes in preparing for a show like this to get on the air. The book delivered so much more. In quite an engaging and witty email exchange - Davies is able to share with the reader all of the gritty truth about what ...more
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read
This is marketed as a book on writing, like Stephen King's On Writing, and I suppose that is true. However, I didn't find this book about that so much as it was about the duties of a show-runner relaying all that goes into making a successful science fiction show work. In that regard the book is awesome. There are some really insightful tidbits that are found in this book that Russell Davies reveals about Doctor Who. Things I didn't even think I wanted to know. Just riveting stuff.

However, at 7
This book is an absolutely fascinating background story of the making of the fourth season/specials of new Doctor Who from showrunner Russell T. Davies. It's told through a series of emails and text messages between Davies and Doctor Who Magazine writer Benjamin Cook.

The exchanges are for the most part incredibly compelling, and I spent more than one night pushing off bedtime so that I could keep reading more. At times I could tell chunks of email between the two had been cut out for length, bu
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In his foreword to The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien writes that his tale "grew in the telling." The email correspondence between Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook that makes up this long but compulsively readable book provides a fascinating view not only into the life, mind, and inspirations of a writer, but also into the numerous other factors - budget, time constraints, casting and recasting, the influence of current events, even accidents, serendipitous and otherwise - that make the telling of ...more
Robbie Newell
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: doctor-who
As a Doctor Who fan, I really enjoyed the book.

As a writer, I also enjoyed it. It provides a fascinating insight into the mind of Davies and the way he works as a writer; indeed it also provides a massive insight into the writing process of Who and an interesting juxtaposition with the scripts as written to the scripts that were filmed (in regards especially to major plots dropped, characters minimised et al.)

As a writer who has a joke of him having the middle name of "Television" this book pro
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Russell T Davies, OBE, is a Welsh television producer and writer. He is a prolific writer, best known for controversial drama serials such as Queer as Folk and The Second Coming, and for spearheading the revival of the popular science-fiction television series Doctor Who, and creating its spin-off series Torchwood. Both are largely filmed in Cardiff and the latter is set there.