I first made contact with BBC Publishing in January 1996, just as the news regarding the Paul McGann TV Movie was breaking. I had been in touch with Executive Producer Philip Segal’s office in America regarding a ‘Making Of’ book to tie in with the project, and they had suggested that I should contact the BBC in London as all spin-off merchandise was being handled from there.

I therefore proposed the idea to BBC Publishing and, despite all my best efforts, they turned it down flat. I never did get to the bottom of what their reluctance was based on, but later discussions suggested that it was because there was a problem regarding the BBC’s use of photographs from the production - clearance had not been properly obtained for the BBC to be able to use them in any projects, and the cast had photo clearance on any shots that were to be used, effectively rendering any pictorial work a nightmare of negotiation and expense. There was also the problem that a photo-ban had been imposed on the production, with only the official photographer allowed to take pictures. This meant that, even if the BBC had wanted to do the book, I would have been unable to have taken any pictures myself, and would have had to have relied on the ‘official’ shots, very few of which were behind-the-scenes.

However, realising that I was keen, and knew something about the show, early in March I received a phone call from BBC Publishing’s office asking whether I would be interested in writing a Doctor Who TX-File. This was one in a new series of booklets aimed at younger children which looked at different television shows. There was to be one on the BBC’s flagship Saturday Morning show Live and Kicking, one on the pop duo Ant and Dec, and, perhaps surprisingly, one on Doctor Who.

The only snag was that they had very little budget for it and could only offer me a fixed one-off payment (no royalties) which was very low indeed.

After discussing the idea through with them on the Thursday afternoon, I realised that what they wanted was really very simple and straightforward - character outlines of each Doctor, the Master and the TARDIS. So I agreed to the terms and came off the ‘phone. Now, I was due to have a meeting up at the BBC the following day - I think it was to do research for one of the Handbooks - and so I wondered whether I could actually get the text done that evening. I started that minute, and an hour or so later had quite a good outline, so I phoned the BBC back and said, much to their astonishment, that I could deliver the text the following day. They were, of course, pleased, and so I completed and polished the text over the evening and, the next day, delivered it to them.

The only problem I had, of course, was that the TVM had not been transmitted and was veiled in secrecy. Therefore, how was I to write the section on the eighth Doctor and the Eric Roberts Master? What I ended up doing was some brief sketch work based on a snatched phone conversation with a very stressed Gary Russell (who was at the time struggling to complete the novelisation) which the BBC then added to and amended to better fit the actual characters as eventually seen on screen.

Given that the BBC was offering such a low payment for the work, I felt quite justified at spending as little time as possible on it, and also, it was a very simple project. I believe I currently hold some sort of record in BBC books for the shortest time between commission and delivery - about 24 hours - and the end result was not at all bad. I also chose the photographs for the release, and added captions (they didn’t originally want these but I suggested it might be nice, especially for characters other than the Doctor and the Master) once the layout had been completed.

The TX-File series unfortunately did not take off, and after about six months was scrapped altogether, so I suppose these little Doctor Who filofax books might become quite collectible. Who knows?