Iain McLaughlin

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The Last Power

A thankfully unmade Doctor Who adventure

In 1993, I was young and foolish. As I write this in 2017 I am older and still foolish, but back in 1993 I was young and daft. Bear that in mind when you read this.

I was a Doctor Who fan as far back as I could remember and I was gutted that the show had gone off-air at the end of the 26th Season. I was annoyed because I loved the show and also because I had pitched a story titled Endeavour to script editor Andrew Cartmel. I heard back from Andrew after the show was canned, in which he very kindly went through my script, pointing out its failings and also whatever strengths it may have had. It was very kind of him to do that and I am enormously grateful to him for taking the time to do that. He also invited me to pitch something to him at Casualty, but my Dad's death pretty much stopped me writing for about a few years. I just couldn't bring myself to write. I will not bore anybody with details of the spiky relationship between my Dad and me but I just didn't want to write and so, despite having plenty of ideas for Casualty, I did nothing with them. That is a huge regret in my life. I should have forced myself to see the opportunity that had been put in front of me and grasped it with both grubby hands.

So I didn't write for a while, other than for The Beezer and Topper, which was my day job.

And then I heard Doctor Who was coming back. These were pre-internet days when I heard rumours Doctor Who was coming back for a 30th anniversary adventure, I started pondering an idea. It enthused me and got me interested in writing again and so I wrote it. It was called The Last Power and started and finished with the Seventh Doctor regenerating. 

I have to say now that having recently found and read this... it's a terrible script. It's genuinely awful. It doesn't have any real focus, and it doesn't really have the oomph it should have. It was just a set of connected incidents. I think I improved it as a story on its second draft but in making it move faster and be more connected I made it even fanwankier. And yes, fanwank is a word.

So what and who were in this farrago of fanwank?

The Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors with archive of the First and Second Doctors, Ace, the Brigadier, Peri, Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, and Sontarans. All of the monsters were being plucked out of history in an effort to make the universe safer. The Seventh Doctor was killed trying to put them back where they belonged to keep history safe. His other selves were dragged in to help and each Doctor faced off against a monster. The Fourth was against Cybermen on a freighter, the Fifth faced Ice Warriors on an ice planet, the Sixth had Davros and the Daleks (and his attempts at redesigning and evolving the Daleks) while the Seventh dealt with giant carnivores, the Drofen (who I later used in the Erimem novella The Beast of Stalingrad), while the Third Doctor had to fend off Sontarans who were trying to stop the Doctors from putting the other races back so that they could fill the void. There was also a Keeper of this sort of prison realm, who I wrote with Sir John Mills in my head.

There's not a lot of this story that I like, and I will NEVER let anybody else read it again because it is AWFUL... but I did like the stuff between the Brigadier and Peri, who was actually a villainous presence in the story. I also liked a scene in which a holographic projection of the Third warned the Fourth Doctor about a Cyberman approaching him... which the Fourth had in hand and he chopped the Cyberman in half by closing an emergency bulkhead door on it. 

All in all it's just not very good at all, and it is back in a cardboard box in my loft and that's where it's staying. But it's here for the sake of completion and also because it got me writing again. It reminded me why I love writing and because of this I started talking to BBV about maybe writing for them, and ultimately it influenced my decision to submit scripts to Big Finish. So while The Last Power might be a load of old toot, it's a load of old toot without which I'd never had written any of the scripts or books I have written.

In this story...