Recorded on: 19 November 2021
Recorded at: PRL Studios
About the winning entry
The judging panel:
- Nicholas Briggs, Creative Director for Big Finish
- Alfie Shaw, Producer of the Doctor Who - Short Trips range
- Robert Shearman, writer and author
- Emily Cook, Producer of Doctor Who for Big Finish
Robert Shearman said: One of the things for a writer that makes playing in the Doctor Who sandbox so fun is the range of the stories you can tell – any storyteller can stamp their own mark upon it and make it as personal as they want it to be.
This is such an exciting debut for Joe – this tale of dread written with such wit and such command of atmosphere. Doing what Doctor Who can do best, extraordinary horror colliding with everyday heroism. It's been such a hard year for all of us, and it was genuinely moving to see the bravery and optimism as so many writers submitted their tales to us. Joe Vevers seemed to me to capture the moment breathtakingly well, that with courage we will soon come out of the darkness.
Emily Cook added: What really stood out for me with Joe’s entry was just how atmospheric it was. His description of the story’s location – the old Scottish fishing town of Lichyrwick – was a setting I could instantly hear. In my head, it sounded evocative and eerie, and very Doctor Who.
Joe’s written well for the Ninth Doctor. When the Doctor arrives, he’s simply looking for chips to cheer up his friend but, as is always the case with the Doctor, he stumbles across trouble, when he meets a young boy. Joe has created a great character in Malcolm. I love it when we meet the Doctor through the eyes of a child and Joe explores their encounter wonderfully. There were lots of good entries this year. But this is a lovely, traditional Doctor Who story, well-conceived and well-executed – a winning combination! I hope fans enjoy hearing it brought to life.
Alfie Shaw said: It was a delight working with Joe on The Lichyrwick Abomination, which is a very different style of story from previous winners of the Paul Spragg Opportunity. It leans more into the horror elements of Doctor Who, with the eponymous town of Lichyrwick under nightly siege from a terrifying creature. Joe has flawlessly managed to balance the horror and the emotional heart of the story in the character of Malcolm, as well as superbly capturing the Ninth Doctor’s voice.
Q&A with Joe Vevers about his winning entry:
What was the inspiration for the story?
I've always liked when Doctor Who explores darker stories and themes, so I knew I wanted to write a story that does the same. I grew up in a small, coastal Scottish town, similar to where the story is set, and always wondered what would happen if one day the TARDIS showed up. The monster that haunts the town in the story is based on a picture I saw of a long-extinct creature that is absolutely HUGE and terrifying, and I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to write something about it!
I couldn’t really believe it! I had to re-read the email about a hundred times to make sure my brain wasn’t playing tricks on me. Eventually, I was just yelling and laughing and probably really irritating the neighbours. I started watching Doctor Who when I was ten years old, and I wouldn’t be pursuing a career in writing now without it, so to be working in that world with those characters is an absolute dream come true!
The whole process has been such a wonderfully collaborative experience. The team at Big Finish have been so incredibly helpful and supportive in getting the story from submission to the final production. Writing this script has been invaluable experience for me, and I can’t thank Big Finish enough for allowing me tell the story I wanted to tell. I hope everyone enjoys listening to it as much as I did writing it!
Just write the story you want to hear. I’d let the entry deadline go by in past years without entering because I didn’t feel “qualified” to be writing Doctor Who and was just too daunted by the idea. Try not to let any anxieties get to you and just write a story that speaks to you. And have fun with it!