"Time Lord Victorious is a festival of Doctor Who." Part one of our chat with producer and writer James Goss
Time Lord Victorious is an ambitious Doctor Who project like no other. The adventures of the Doctor (in various incarnations) and the Tales of the Dark Times, covers a wide range of products, including books, comics, audios and an animated Daleks TV series. Check out our reviews of the first round of Big Finish audios and the first Tenth Doctor novel The Knight, The Fool and The Dead in our dedicated page here.
The producer of Time Lord Victorious is no stranger to the world of Doctor Who. James Goss is a writer and producer and lifelong fan of the show. He ran the Doctor Who website twenty years ago, commissioned the very first animation of lost Doctor Who episodes with the DVD release of Patrick Troughton's The Invasion and has written several Doctor Who books and a whole host audios for Big Finish and other spin-off material, most notably Torchwood, for which he also serves as producer of the current content on the audio site.
I had the opportunity to chat to James Goss about his work and passion for Doctor Who. In the first of two interviews with the writer and producer, I chat to James about Time Lord Victorious and just how ambitious a project it is.
Can you tell us how Time Lord Victorious came about?
I honestly can’t claim to have invented it or anything, because it’s something that BBC Studios has wanted to do for about five years now, it’s just taken a while to just get everything aligned.
I was approached last summer and asked, do you want to do this? And I thought ‘oh, this sounds fun!’ It’s something that I always felt the Doctor Who brand should be trying to do. When I was running the Doctor Who website, way back twenty years ago, we tried to do something then, which was storytelling that would take place as novels, gaming and webcasts, but we never managed to bring it all together. It would have been lovely if we had.
Now we’re seeing BBC Studios really wanting to do it now and having this amazing relationship with the licensees who’ve all been brilliant throughout – there’s so many licensees who took part – because it was originally just supposed to be a linked series of audio dramas, and novels and comics, and it has grown and grown to over forty products.
That’s a lot of content. What have been the most exciting products to come out of this?
There’s storytelling on a T shirt; it’s one of those things where you go ‘wow, that is crazy!’ And the fact that you know you can get Time Lord Victorious coasters! But I think there’s now so much brilliant Time Lord Victorious-ness, that you sort of take the amazing, iconic, parts like the Daleks! animation, the Titan Comics or the Big Finish audio dramas for granted because you’re going, ‘but also, there’s coasters!’
It’s also been great in the sense of being able to reach out to lots and lots of interesting creators, because obviously, this wouldn’t have happened without the support of all the various licensees really, really working to make Time Lord Victorious happen.
There was a period where, right on in early March, where Scott Handcock and David Richardson, who were doing a lot of the work on recording the Big Finish stuff, said well, you know, this COVID thing, it might not happen. And I was going oh, surely there’s a way? And then Scott came back and went, yeah, we found a way that that Paul McGann can record using his son’s band kit.
How would you describe Time Lord Victorious?
It’s a festival, it really is! Just that idea of everybody turning up, putting up a stall and going, this is what we can do! That has been the really wonderful thing about it. You get mad, mad, lovely things happening. It’s been the idea of it’s something that’s fun, and it’s a little bit showy, offy, but it’s also just a massive celebration of Doctor Who. In a year when everyone’s a bit grim, having something that’s actually running for months, which is basically like a giant Doctor Who funfair, that anybody can take part in, is just wonderful. You know, it’s the Doctor Who brand equivalent of a rollercoaster, and that is just delightful.
We’ve been able to involve, I think, every major licensee; they’ve all turned up and been brilliant. I hope that one of the things about Time Lord Victorious, is that everyone’s love for the show comes through. Like Forbidden Planet, who came up with the idea of the Brian the Ood T-shirt. That came from a place of ‘Oh my God, I’ve always wanted to tell a story on a T shirt, can we do that?’. You know, that’s come from their real love of Doctor Who.
How did Covid-19 change some of those plans, particularly the more interactive elements?
Mmm, well, yes! There was a meeting in in late March. I’d gone to Turkey to rescue my parents who were on holiday and managed to get them on a rescue flight. I then managed to get myself on a flight home and arrived back just in time for my weekly Time Lord Victorious meeting. I was expecting it to be a complete disaster. Because, I really thought everyone would have gone well, there’s a global pandemic, we can’t do this. And instead, every single licensee in this Zoom meeting was going, we found a way, we know what we’re doing. The fact that you have Big Finish going, we thought it was impossible, but Paul McGann has recorded in his home; you could just sense this enthusiasm. And people went, we’re doing it. we’re doing it.
When you speak to Bob Remington at Escape Hunt; they sat down and they said ‘all right, well, if we can’t run an escape room, what we’ll do is, we’ll do it as a play at home escape room, that people can download, which is fabulous.
It’s the same with the Immersive Everywhere team - they sat down, and they worked it out. Luckily, they’ve got an enormous performance space, but they just worked out, essentially, how they could launch an immersive event in a COVID secure, safe workspace.
What’s been, for you, the most exciting release in the Time Lord Victorious range?
The problem is that I have a really short attention span. So, the only correct answer is whichever bit I’m working on at the moment. This morning, I’ve been having a zoom call with Immersive Everywhere to discuss Time Fracture, which has just been brilliant. You know, going into the incredibly minute detail about time travel!
This morning, I’ve seen the final episode of the Daleks! animation, which sees the Mechanoids and the Daleks having a really massive fight. This is something I wanted to see from my childhood. Chris Allen, the producer, and Studio Liddell, have been really working on actually making an animation happen in a year when you think, oh, surely nothing’s happening. Studio Liddell are in Manchester, making this thing. Normally, you would expect to be up and down on the train three or four times a month, but instead we’ve just been dealing with each other via email.
So, I know you’re looking for an answer where I go, ‘Oh, I really actually just like the drinks coasters!’ But there isn’t one thing. There’s so much stuff happening. I spent a lovely Sunday the other day, putting together the last episode of the Comic Creator, sitting in the app going, ‘oh, I can actually do this thing with the background here, what a lovely time I’m having with the app!’ And you go it’s the weekend, you’re no longer being paid by BBC Studios. What are you doing? And I’m like, because it’s so much fun!
Would you do something like this again if asked?
God, yes. Hopefully, there will not be a global pandemic though!
It has been so much fun. We’ve learned a lot about the enthusiasm of licensees and fans. It would be lovely to apply that and do it again. Because, from my point of view, I see no reason why the Doctor Who brand shouldn’t frankly, show off. Basically that is what Time Lord Victorious is, it’s Doctor Who showing off and going ‘this is what all the brilliant people who work on the brand can do’. I think Doctor Who should constantly be doing that.
Definitely! There’s always the 60th anniversary in three years!
It’s gone from that point when I was a kid, when the whole idea of ‘wow, it’s the 20th anniversary of Doctor Who’ was so exciting. Now, I’m just old. I can’t give you anything more than that. I’m really old!
A massive thanks to James Goss and the BBC for taking part. We'll be back soon to chat with James about his work on Big Finish, particularly his work on the more adult-orientated Torchwood...