What a bizarre, fab weekend. Some of my mates came over from Dublin to watch the episode with me and Jo, and we had a blast. I was incredibly busy right up until Friday evening when they arrived - in fact, I'm going to do a post detailing the previous 2 weeks, just to show how crazy things got. Spent Saturday afternoon going for a fryup, then a couple of drinks in the local, before hurrying back to the house to prepare.
And then the nerves kicked in, right on cue. 6.45pm arrived... and then that Ofcom announcement came up (a summary of a complaint some people had made about swearing in the Live 8 concert). For a split second, I panicked, because the announcer sounded like they were about to say "Due to the many lives lost in a massive volcano eruption in Croydon, tonight's episode has been cancelled forever as a mark of respect, and what's more, we'll never show anything else James Moran has written either, because we hate him." Luckily, volcanic activity in Croydon was very low during the weekend, so the episode went ahead as normal.
All my mates cheered when my name came up, and then there was a respectful silence for the next 45 minutes. This was mainly because of the 25 bricks of C4 explosive in the room, which were wired up to a noise detector, connected to the tie-clip microphones that everyone was wearing. So nobody dared to make a sound. Some people might say my behaviour was extreme. I disagree.
Anyway, fun time had by all, and so on and so forth. Stayed off the internet for 24 hours, which now seems to be the normal ritual. Had a look Sunday evening, and was really gobsmacked by the online reaction, reviews, and messages I received. There were 8.1 million viewers according to the overnight figures, will know more when they add up the repeats and stuff. Audience Appreciation Index was 87, the highest of either BBC channel for the whole day - anything over 85 is considered excellent, so I'm pretty chuffed with that.
I even braved the wilds of the OG forum again, and am really happy to see the response there - most people really liked it, and have been extremely nice about it. Thank you to everyone who emailed, commented, or sent carrier pigeons, it was much appreciated. Just a quick thing I'd like to say though: if you're emailing me or commenting on my blog, please don't slag off other writers, even if it's meant as a compliment to me, it's just not cool. Okay, I've said it, we can move on now.
Next post will be the "2 weeks of my writing life" thingy, swiftly followed by part 2 of the Torchwood writing process. And then at some point I need to post the Gallifrey reports - they're all written, just need to trim them down a bit, they're bloody huge. Huge, I tell you. And I have a big upcoming celebration, but nothing planned - on the 5th June, this blog will be 5 years old. Blimey. And I have no idea how to celebrate it, I'll be too busy in May to do anything about it. So I'm hoping to do a big post of some kind - suggestions welcome. But while I'm here, I'll quickly reply to the DW questions that came in on the last post:
miss-cellany: Got to ask, did you have the same Latin book that I did "Caecilius in hortum est.." etc?
I did Latin, but not that particular book - many of the production team did though, and loved that whole family and their adventures. They sent me a copy of the book for reference.
lizw: The choice of Latin names didn't mean anything to me because I learned from a different textbook, but I laughed when it was explained on Confidential. That said, I get the impression from reading comments elsewhere that some people whose class background doesn't include the opportunity to learn Latin felt excluded by that in-joke, which is an unfortunate result that I'm sure no-one intended - I think it would be worth watching out for that kind of class-related implication in future. It's a shame when a joke misfires and interferes with people's enjoyment of what was a great episode overall.
It doesn't exclude anyone, or misfire, they're just character names. If you get the reference, then it's an extra in-joke, if not, you're not missing out. Same with the reference to "The Romans", when the Doctor says he had nothing - okay, a little bit - to do with the great fire of Rome. Fits in as it is, but is a nice, extra little joke if you get the reference. As for class background, I grew up with bugger all money in a tiny town and went to a tiny school in the wilds of County Cork in Ireland, where I did 3 years of Latin for my Inter Cert (Irish equivalent of the O Level) - we weren't exactly swanning around in top hats. Many people did Latin, but even if they didn't, I don't see how it would have interfered with their enjoyment of the show, they're just character names. And there's always the internet, nobody's stopping anyone learning Latin if they really want to. I didn't bloody want to, but had it forced down my neck anyway, by a mad teacher who resembled a shaved gorilla, and you don't see me complaining. Apart from that previous sentence.
missylabelled said: Seriously nice work. Are you single?
Sorry girls - and boys - I'm taken, and very happy.
Matt M: Bloody loved it. (What's with the 29 minute commentary though?)
Now, the 29 minute commentary thing *was* explained to me, but... I can't remember exactly how it worked. We recorded a full episode commentary, so it exists. It was something about how they're not allowed to have a podcast unless it's been broadcast on the radio first, but they could only have a half hour thing on the radio, so the podcast was the same length. Oh, that doesn't sound right. Sorry. There were reasons, honestly. Some obscure Beeb rules and regulations involving podcasts, radios, rubber chickens, and a secret conspiracy dating back to the dawn of civilisation. Supposedly the full commentaries will be available to download later in April, but don't quote me, cause I'm probably wrong.
stabarinde: I would kill for the script. Well, not literally kill.... um, no actually, I might well do. Any chance of a glimpse?
Sorry, I don't own the copyright on the script, so I can't - they'd have me flamed to death by a Pyrovile. If I'm lucky.
And some other questions that arrived by email, or came up in reviews etc:
Many people: Are you doing more DW and/or TW?
I'd love to, and if they ask me back then I'll gladly do more. Fingers crossed...
Some others elsewhere: Were the special effects re-used from other BBC shows (Pompeii: The Last Day etc)?
No, all the CG effects in this episode were created by The Mill specifically for it. And bloody well done to them, too.
Other people: What's with the Jesus imagery in that scene near the end, with the bright light behind the Doctor and all that? Hmmm?
It's not meant to be Jesus-like, honestly. The room is really, really dark, it looks like the family are doomed, then suddenly he appears again - and because it's so dark, and they're so scared, the light looks unnaturally bright to them. It's also intended to play up the surreal aspect of the scene, and be a bit scary for them too. They probably think the Doctor and Donna are gods, but that's hardly surprising, given the power on display. But it's not meant to paint the Doctor as a Messiah figure. He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty Time Lord.
More various people: How come they didn't burst into flames inside the volcano, you stupid bastard? Wouldn't it have been *slightly* warm??
Well, normally yes. But the Pyrovile had sucked all the energy out of it, and hence most of the heat. Otherwise the Doctor and Donna would have exploded into tiny, sputtering paint stains on the floor once they went inside. I'm no scientist, but I am aware that people can't survive inside active volcanoes, cheers.
Many various people: How could the Pyrovile take over the world if they can be killed by two buckets of water, eh?
Because this particular one had chased them far from its little hideyhole base in the volcano, and he was too far away from his energy source. They were able to quickly douse a large chunk of the flames, which tipped the scale enough to set off a chain reaction, killing it. Try the same thing on one of them inside the volcano, near their energy source, and you'd get a swift flaming - and you'd deserve it too, you cheeky scamp. And once the Pyrovile used the energy converter to boil the seas and turn the planet into a firey hell, then they'd be able to go anywhere they wanted without risk.
Some other people: Now, the thing about a Plinian eruption is that the pyroclastic cloud--
Yes, yes, I know, we all know. The volcano eruption sequence is as accurate as possible, given that we don't know absolutely everything that happened. But time has been compressed somewhat, for dramatic purposes. I know it lasted nearly 24 hours with a rain of ash and pumice, I know many died because of the toxic gases that escaped, I know many were crushed to death, I know there were 4 or 5 pyroclastic surges (we only showed 2 of them), and I know lots of people managed to get out. I also know there were other areas hit, not just Pompeii - but the Doctor landed in Pompeii, so they couldn't really do much about Herculaneum and so on. There's a lot of stuff that required lots of talky explanation, and wasn't relevant to this story, so when that happens, it's best to just leave it out. It doesn't mean it's not there, just not on screen. Basically, anything that's incorrect? It's because the Pyrovile altered things by messing around. There.