TV Series

Quick-fire Questions: Gareth Roberts

By Christopher Allen

He's written for the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith on TV, in books and on audio. He's pitted James Corden against Cybermen, and Catherine Tate against a giant wasp. But how would Gareth Roberts - writer of this week's episode The Caretaker - get on when he faced our quick-fire questions?

What inspired you to write this episode?
Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin wanted to show the new Doctor in everyday life in the present day. He’s been in the past and future a lot already this year so it was time to bring him to the here and now. I’d written The Lodger and Closing Time for Matt Smith’s Doctor and they wanted something along similar lines. Peter’s Doctor is still a fish out of water in our world but in a very different way to Matt. He doesn’t have any time for social niceties, or even trying to blend in. He thinks it’ll be easy. Also, Steven had carefully plotted out the story of the Doctor, Clara and Danny across the series, and this episode is a major turning point for them all.

What’s your first memory of Doctor Who?
The trailer for Episode One of The Three Doctors. The image of the Doctor and Jo Grant in Bessie being menaced by a black blob really stuck in my mind. When I saw it again I realised it was a blue blob. But then, first time around, I was watching in black and white.

Describe the Doctor in one word.

If you had a TARDIS, where and/or when would you go?
London in the far future. I'd like to know what happens next. I don’t understand people who want to visit the past. We know about the past. And what if I needed a tooth out?

Where’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited in real life?
Skara Brae. A perfectly preserved prehistoric village on the Orkney Islands. It’s mind-blowing but because it’s so hard to get to, most people don’t know about it. The Orkneys in general are so full of history. They make Stonehenge look like Hartlepool bus station.

What scary thing would you least like to encounter in real life?
The thing I’m most scared of would be society breaking down. I really like modern civilization. Except for rollercoasters. Any kind of fairground ride actually. I accidentally went on Space Mountain at Disneyland once, and I’m still recovering.

What’s your favourite memory of working on Doctor Who?
The readthrough for The Lodger. It went down really well, and Matt Smith and James Corden were amazing. It was also the readthrough for Amy’s Choice and I got to read in for Toby Jones. So I was the first incarnation of the Dream Lord.

Are you a passionate fan of anything other than Doctor Who?
So many things it’s hard to narrow it down. Off the top of my head, Marc Almond, Blake’s 7, Herodotus, John Dickson-Carr, The Good Wife, Van Der Graaf Generator, Nurse Jackie, Sparks, Locke & Key... I could go on. At the moment I’ve just discovered a poet called Connie Bensley who I think is amazing, am really enjoying bizarre 60s crime drama The Man in Room 17 on DVD and also last week I went to see Kate Bush live which was one of the most astounding experiences of my life.

Did you take any pictures on set, and could you share one with us?
We’re not allowed. And I couldn’t make to the filming it this time. But I got the rushes sent to me every day and I was punching the air at the performances of Peter, Jenna and Sam.

Find out where to watch Doctor Who near you. Coming soon: The Caretaker...

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