Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How I ended up writing an audio drama, Part II: fun times with Chancellor Gorkon

Having written the first part of what would eventually come to be The Confessions of Dorian Gray: The Spirits of Christmas I figured my duties were done and dusted and I wouldn’t really hear too much more about it except for little updates here and there from TOH. Which was fine, because in January I landed a massive copywriting gig that had me chained to my desk writing everything from how to look after your roses, to re-roofing a garden shed and what plants won’t die if you’re a hapless idiot who forgets to water them (didn’t really have to research that one too much).

Nevertheless, as March of 2015 rolled along TOH asked me if I’d like to visit the studio to see my script be recorded. What a silly question - of course I would! So I took a cheeky day off from writing about the best way to trim your bush and headed off deeper into West London where I’d get to hang out at the studio, have a lovely lunch and get to meet the cast before seeing them do their thing. Now of course, because Dorian was an ongoing series it had it’s established leading man in the form or Alexander Vlahos, along with Hugh Skinner returning as the vampire Toby. But the main guest role - a villainous Santa Claus no less! - needed to be filled…

I remember when TOH first started discussing ideas for potential Santas. I was obviously intrigued by many of the names he threw out there, but as casting wasn’t really in my remit as writer, I tried to be a little bit… shall we say ‘dispassionate’ about it? I do recall the first time he mentioned David Warner (yes, *that* David Warner), though, because I enthusiastically went “Ooooooo!” before adding “but of course it’s not my decision.”

Anyway, TOH ultimately did ask David Warner, and David Warner said yes. And I did a little nerd squeal because David Warner’s been in two Star Trek films, two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Titanic, Tron and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and now he was going to be in something I’d written. Life can be crazy like that.

So on a brisk March morning TOH and I headed into the studio where I was introduced to Alex, Hugh, and David Blackwell who plays Simon Darlow in the one scene I didn’t write. From the outset they were all absolutely lovely and made me feel very welcome; Alex even popped out to the local shop and bought us all Freddos. Gul Madred David, I was assured, would be joining us around midday (no doubt after having finished asking Patrick Stewart how many lights there are for the day).

Recording got underway and everything was grand. It was a joy to hear such a lovely bunch of actors bring the words I wrote to life, adding a depth and nuance that lifted them beyond what had spilled from my brain onto the pages in front of them. But it wasn't just all me sitting there listening - I got to go into a recording booth too! Firstly to be involved in a brief chat for an interview that’s included as part of the Christmas special’s bonus features, then to record my cameo role as ‘Neighbour no. 2’ where I powerfully delivered the line “PISS OFF!” with a verbal punch that will no doubt lead to me being showered with nominations come awards season, and rewarded with my own critically acclaimed spin-off series in due course.

Shortly after delivering the performance of a lifetime, TOH asked if I would go and sit in the green room while everyone else was kept busy recording so I could open the door ‘when David arrives.’ I was simultaneously thrilled and shitting myself at the prospect.

For the next 15 minutes I sat alone faffing about on Facebook and Twitter on my iPhone when all of a sudden the doorbell buzzed. I jumped to my feet and scampered over to the grainy little screen that showed who’d pressed the buzzer. I couldn't really see who it was, but I *knew* who it is. I thumbed the door release and started hyperventilating. Moments later, he was standing before me: Federation ambassador St. John Talbot The legendary David Warner.

Now, I’ve met plenty of actors before; some are lovely, some require… a bit of pampering and TLC. From the outset, David Warner was just THE LOVELIEST CHAP. Straight away he introduced himself to me before saying “Ah! You must be our writer!” We chatted for a bit, then he whipped out a copy of the script and asked if we could go over some lines so he could clarify exactly how they should be delivered. My response was something along the lines of ‘ER, OF COURSE’/‘HELL YES.’

And that’s how, one Monday afternoon last year, I ended up running lines with Chancellor Gorkon of the Klingon High Council.

All in all, the whole process of being being involved with The Confessions of Dorian Gray was a delight, and just a few weeks ago, almost exactly a year to the day since I delivered my first draft of the script, I got my finished copy through the post. The Spirits of Christmas went on sale on December 21st, and the reaction to it based solely on what I’ve seen on Twitter has been very positive (one review gave it 9.7 out of 10!), which makes me a very happy bunny.

So if you’ve not listened to it yet, do be a dear and go order a copy, yeah?


Inexplicable DeVice said...

Ah, so *that's* how it happened!

Although, I note a particular absence of pink goop splattered about the place...

::goes off to listen to the trailer::

Tim said...

Yep, that's how it happened! And no pink goop! I actually meant to add a photo to this post as proof and FORGOT.