Writer's Commentary

Five: February 1970

The bulk of continuity references in this chapter revolve around Inferno. Stevens meets Petra Williams at Imperial University in London's South Kensingston area. This was where my wife Alison got her degree and thus is an area I knew well enough to set a sequence there. The journalist encounters brash Australian Greg Sutton and they go for a drink in a nearby pub, the Queen's Arms. My wife's choir used to rehearse at Imperial on Sunday evenings and then go to that pub afterwards for a pint, so I've warmed the benches inside the Queen's Arms many times.

Re-reading this chapter, I enjoy Stevens' description of Inferno's plot as a 'science fiction potboiler'. I think he's being a bit harsh on a gripping yarn, but if you take the events of almost any Doctor Who story and boil them down to a few sentences they do sound rather fanciful. During research for Who Killed Kennedy I was bemused and amazed by some of the Pertwee era stories. The Master's convoluted plan in The Mind of Evil, for example, beggars belief.

Stevens is summoned to meet the editor of The Daily Chronicle, whose description is based on the New Zealand Herald's editor at the time I was working for that paper. I spent more than two years at the Herald but only spoke to the editor three times. He seemed nicer than the Chronicle's boss.

At the start of Part One Stevens is a Fleet Street hack whose motto is never let the facts get in the way of a good story. By the end of Part One he turns down fifty thousand pounds to keep quiet, quitting his secure job in pursuit of the Doctor and UNIT. His pregnant wife walks out on him after being sent evidence of Stevens' one-night stand. But despite all of this, the ending is upbeat. Stevens has rediscovered a little of his soul, he's intent of finding the truth and redeeming himself. If this were a three act screenplay, this is the end of Act One.

<< Chapter 4 CommentaryChapter 5Chapter 6 Commentary >>