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

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  956 ratings  ·  111 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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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
...more
Magdalena
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
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
...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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Persephone
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.

Russe
...more
Shannon
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' process...to 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
...more
Helen Hnin
What a journey, huh? I cannot believe I am emotional about 20,000 emails.

I love to read about tiny scenes that were almost deleted, or the characters that were almost erased. Then about how the writers manage to salvage them and put them back into the story anyway. Like Penny Carter, who almost was the Doctor's companion but then Donna Noble came back so her character was almost gone but then the writer put her into the Partners in Crimes (4x01)! I'll always remember about those details now. (An
...more
Sam Brown
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-2020-in-books
this book was so bloody wonderful! taking aside being a doctor who fan, its just a lovely look into writing for tv and storytelling more broadly. loved it!
Angela
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
David
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
...more
Lamilla
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dw, autobiography
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
...more
Yani
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-books
Wow... I needed that.

I read this, way back in 2010 maybe... the Christmas after it came out anyway. And I remember enjoying it profusely then. But it hit differently this time.

I recently encouraged a younger friend of mine to watch Buffy, which he did, all 7 seasons, in, I dunno, slightly over a month I think. Which is a lot. But it made me remember how I felt about Buffy at the time, how I feel about Buffy now. How I feel about Joss's writing. And how the show wasn't ever quite as good when he
...more
Chris Browning
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a deeply frustrating and maddening book. Davies comes across as funny, witty, passionate, thoughtful, kind and generous. He obviously slogs it out deeply for his writing. He is full of insight and wisdom and admiration for others

And to me he is 80% utterly wrong all of the time. There’s a passage where he is crackling with joy at finally working out a plot point and I can’t help but be honest and think “and that was a terrible plot point”. Because the problem is that most of the time RTD is
...more
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
...more
S. Downing
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For writers. For Doctor Who fans.
I loved RTD’s seasons of Doctor Who and this peek behind the curtain to his writing process is a treat. A set of (many,many) emails between Russell and a journalist Benjamin Cook, this is a very honest reveal of the agonies and ecstasies of creating a popular TV show. Russell is painfully honest about his anxieties and very funny in his crushes and naughty ideas. Benjamin pushes just the right amount, chasing up when the writer goes quiet or is hesitant about go
...more
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
Wilfred Matthews Duggan
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for anybody who admires the writings of Russell T. Davies, is a fan of Doctor Who, has a passing interest in television production, or anybody who just enjoys amusing observations of life- so I found this to be riveting read on many levels! Russell T. provides a fascinating look into his life during his time as Head Writer on the revived series of Doctor Who (2005-), told through the form of emails between himself and Benjamin Cook. The two must share a deep trust as th ...more
Chloe
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was addicted to this book. Any spare ten minutes, I was reading it. I think Russell T Davies is a great screenwriter and I loved how candid and honest this book was - from the highs to his real idea-less lows. It was fascinating to get a really close insight into his writing process, how ideas are formed, spiral and how some are discarded too. His self doubt was refreshing, his enthusiasm inspiring. It was also a joy to read simply because the Donna series of Nu!Who is my absolute favourite so ...more
Blake Coats
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, owned, writing
Loved it! This book was exactly what I hoped it would be - an interesting and unfiltered look into the creative mind of a writer. The book is written as an ongoing email correspondence between the writer and a journalist that spans roughly two years, and does very well to show both the emotional highs and lows involved with being a writer. Additionally, it's refreshing to see how honest and genuine the writer comes across, and it's very clear to see how much love was put into Doctor Who by all t ...more
Jonah Barrett
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much about writing in these 700 pages. I fell in love, the out of love, then in love again with RTD. I got sick of Doctor Who. Then I wanted to watch it all over again. I wanted Benjamin Cook to just fucking admit if he likes dudes or not. My brains are leaking out of my ears. I want to write another little show. Oh god. OH GOD.
Matty Turner
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great insight into the behind the scenes of how a big BBC TV series goes from script to screen. Anyone interested in Doctor Who or/and the TV industry will really enjoy and learn a lot from this book!
Gus
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars, nonfiction
i am never not re-reading this book. please, always assume i am reading this, no matter the time of the year. it is my personal Holy Bible, my favourite book of all time and an absolute must for any writer.
Matt Whitby
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best book on writing. Period.
Mark
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
More of Russell Davies and the writer's art.
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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.

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