Want to know what the mummy smells like? What it's like to write on the British institution that is Who? How I got the gig? How I got the gig twice? Where I buried the bodies? Ask away.

But a word of advice: Treat this as a chance to look behind the curtain of the show, not to rage about it.

Seriously - any I preferred Tennant/Smith/RTD “questions” I'll just ignore. Similarly, if you hated the episode, you're welcome to that opinion, but again, not likely to get a response. There are plenty of other forums to vent out there. This is not one of them.

Also, check out my previous AMA.. If you have questions about my early years or starting in writing, it may have been covered there. Could save us all a bit of time. And by all of us, I mean me.

Here I am on twitter. Follow me why don't ya?
Here's my Blog

Those of you in other time zones, don't despair. I will check back tomorrow (Sunday) and answer some more. I am in this for the long haul people.

Okay, let's do this. My name is Jamie Mathieson. I'm 44 years old and I've been a Redditor for seven years. I am a colossal geek for comics, computer games and sci-fi of all stripes. I used to be a stand-up and recently I wrote two episodes of Doctor Who. AMA. (I'll start answering after the show)

Okay, been typing solidly since the show aired and am beat. It's 00.13 in the UK. I'll be back again tomorrow for the US. Thanks for all the great feedback. Reddit rules.

Back again. Hello America! 8.00 am here. Come at me!

Well that was fun. I feel I paid my Reddit dues. Thank for all the nice feedback. I'm outta here.

13.47 GMT

Comments: 2109 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

gwvent943 karma

Forget the smell of the mummy, what does Jenna Coleman smell like?

packmath2512 karma

You see Reddit, this is why we can't have nice things?

I've never got close enough to smell her, but I imagine she smells of a freshly printed restraining order and a night in the cells.

benjamin_jabituya447 karma

Neil Gaiman was quite vocal during the week about the lack of female writers for the show Jamie, what's your opinion on the matter?

Also if I can ask another, how is the direction or story that you write made to tie into the season's myth arc/ big bad storyline? Are yiu told to include certain lines of dialogue or similar? Cheers for this ama, I've been loving this season and am looking forward to tonights episode!

packmath459 karma

It would be lovely to have female writers on Who. To quote Neil Gaiman: "In the six years I’ve been working with the Doctor Who team, the producers and script editors I’ve directly worked with (four out of six of whom have been women) have had a lot of attention on getting women writers onto the team. They’ve reached out to a lot of women writers — I know that Steven Moffat has personally been in touch with a lot of female writers and been defeated over and over by scheduling problems, and people saying no, and been as frustrated as anybody (probably much more frustrated as he’s the one reaching out). It’s a priority for them too."

ednemo13360 karma

How much of what you write is influenced by what is coming in the future for a drawn-out storyline? Do you have to make sure you fit in certain things to advance character development to fit in with what you know is a certain end point?

packmath429 karma

Both my eps are fairly self contained, so not much really, but we were all kept in the loop on everything. Copies of other writer's scripts, rough footage from eps etc. The most shocking example of this I had was writing my first script and getting an email saying 'Here's a link to footage from Peter Capaldi's first episode' months before it aired. I was just sitting in my lounge on my laptop watching it, thinking, Jeez. But suddenly writing the Doctor's new voice got a lot easier.

Neusbaum349 karma

How much does the story change from concept to production?

Are there Doctor Who fact checking editors that adjust dialogue to better/accurately represent the Doctor Who of seasons past?

And how do I get my hands on the Doctor Who crib used by River.....? I have a baby on the way and would love to build or purchase the crib.... I would receive mucho "good husband" points with my pregnant wife. I'm currently in the negative, -2, for not wanting to turn off the air conditioning a few days ago.

packmath422 karma

In my case, massive changes. In both Flatline and Mummy, lots of big rewrites, but when you get a good note from Steven Moffat, you pay attention. In the case of Mummy, I was far too ambitious to begin with. The train was stopping off and visiting 'The Seven Wonders of the Universe'. The Mummy's method of killing and origins were also a lot more convoluted to begin with. But then the reality of 45 minutes sink in...

ecto_biologist248 karma

Did you get to work directly with Capaldi? If so, how was it?

packmath515 karma

I met him a couple of times, but no big chats. He complimented me on the script of Mummy as I left the readthrough, which was nice of him. And I watched him practice his yo-yo after another meet. Rock and roll.

not-really-here-239 karma

Did Peter Capaldi say the lines exactly as you wrote/envisioned them or did he tweak anything?

packmath563 karma

The jelly babies were his idea! Which I think we can all agree was genius.

TheMotherfucker193 karma

If you had to write an episode about the return of the Master, how would you go about it? What would be his response to the Doctor's current regeneration and how would that affect his characterization?

packmath676 karma

You do all know that the new Doctor is really the Master? Is that not clear to everyone by now? He couldn't be that callous and be The Doctor. That's why the regeneration was so abrupt. The master beamed out the regenerating 11 and beamed himself in. Simples.

madareklaw173 karma

Hi Mr. Mathieson, Congratulations on getting two of your scripts aired! here are my questions.

  • Who is your favorite Dr.Who villain and why?
  • Who do i have to kill to have a go at scripting an episode?

**edit: 9/10 for the episode moar pls

packmath231 karma

I've got a soft spot for Davros. He invented the Daleks! And he's half dalek. Or something.

I think to get to write for Who, you have to prove your worth elsewhere. I don't think I would have had a shot had I not had four years of Being Human under my belt. Even then, I had a meeting with Mr Moffat two years ago where I failed to get the gig. Pitched him ideas, none of which took his fancy. Two years later, another meet, one of them stuck, which became Flatline...

NeonNytrox129 karma

Letting Foxes do the cover for "Don't Stop Me Now" was genius. That was fantastic.

Now for my question: what's the scariest being that the Doctor has faced, in your opinion?

packmath366 karma


Frajer128 karma

Dr. Who has been on for so long, does that make it harder or easier to write for?

packmath193 karma

I was never a fan of the original (too scared) so there is a gaping void of knowledge in the Who Lore bit of my brain. I just come up with the coolest ideas I can and trust the Who staff to point out if I am ripping off the plot of a Troughton classic.

DrummerVim95 karma

Mr Mathieson! I was wondering what was your favourite style of Who episode ... do you like the timey-wimey ones like The Big Bang or the scary ones or the more funny light-hearted ones? And why?

I'm really looking forward to the next couple of episodes, always exciting to see the work of a new writer.

Thank you! :)

post-episode edit: Blimey that was good. Properly tense episode, with 12 once again asserting himself as cynical but ultimately effective. Great work indeed, looking forward to Flatline even more now!

packmath142 karma

One of the lovely things about Who is that it's a very elastic format, both in terms of 'anywhere in time and space' but also genre. You can do farce, drama, horror, sci-fi and so on. I love a good conceptual one. Loved the Big Bang. I like a head masher, me. Thus FAQ About Time Travel, (a film I wrote) And Blink, of course.

TheTretheway94 karma

You're commissioned to rewrite Mummy as a classic four-part story. Where do the cliffhangers go and what do you bring in to fill the extra 55 minutes?

packmath281 karma

I'd make it a musical.

I-Molest-Sheep91 karma

What do you think of Cardiff?

packmath487 karma

Your name betrays you.

_90772 karma

Do you have a basic formula or structure to which you must adhere? That is, how much freedom do you have as a writer? Could you say, kill off Clara Oswald in a fire, have her ashes fly everywhere and then have The Doctor bring here back to life by going to the place where things go when they die ("heaven") and bring her back? I feel like this would be a pretty big change in style. Thanks!

packmath84 karma

An outline has to be approved before they let you write the script, but no basic formulas or structures as such.

Sate_Hen68 karma

What's Moffat like to work with. Do you get briefs on what the episode should be about? Does he have a lot of input or does let you get on with it?

packmath121 karma

I find him a delight. He is very quick and smart, and with a line can solve a script problem that's been bugging you for days. A note from Mr Moffat is worth it's weight in gold. Just posted new blog which is relevant. http://jamiemathieson.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/building-better-mummy.html

Boathead9656 karma

How did you get the opportunity to write for the show?

packmath91 karma

I think it's an incremental thing, with a few components in the mix. Established through four years on Being Human (longest run as a writer other than the creator, Toby Whithouse) Good agent. I also had a couple of spec scripts out with various TV productions companies, one of which Hartswood liked (the company that made Sherlock) and through that, Steven read it and got me in for another Who meet. At which I pitched four ep ideas, four monsters, along with illustrations (art student way back when) and yay, got the gig.

DeepDiamond48 karma

What's your favourite Tv show besides Doctor Who?

packmath364 karma

Inspector Spacetime.

BatASaurus41 karma

Were you inspired by any previous writers? How much freedom were you given in writing your episodes? Thanks!!

packmath56 karma

I like to think that the Mummy concept is a very Moffat idea. Of the monster that only the victim can see. But that's just me self-aggrandizing. I was given a ton of freedom, but am very open to good notes, which from Steven tends to be the case. If he gives you a note which improves the ep tenfold, but means completely rewriting it, you shake him by the hand and start the rewrite with a spring in your step.

Maddie_N38 karma

What advice do you have for aspiring sci-fi screenwriters? My dream is to write for a show and be able to ruin people's days like Moffat does. Kidding about that last part (not really).

packmath128 karma

Write a lot. Which is deceptively deep advice, trust me. A lot of people don't write a lot. They talk a great script, but aren't actually writing anything. The analogy I like to use is playing a guitar. You wouldn't pick up a guitar, strum it once and expect to sound like Hendrix. So why should your first short story/script/novel be any good? You have to practice. A lot. So write a lot. The meme of the overnight success is your enemy. Purge it from your mind. It will only make you feel like a failure when it doesn't happen. You are learning to play the guitar. So practice. It is a marathon not a sprint. If you love it, you should want to do it anyway. Make it your obsession. If no-one was paying you, would you make up stories anyway? I would. I do. I did, for years...

CTU36 karma

Ok hoping you do get to my questions. Tho 1: What is it like working on such a long lived series? Do you free pressue, do you need to read up on lots of the lore to make sure you don't make continuity errors?

2: Are you limited in any way of what you can do, bring in when you write the scripts? Can you have had a River Song appearance if you wanted, or some other person from the past if you thought it fit in?

3: Do you watch the episode after its done and if so private screening or when it airs like everyone else?

packmath42 karma

1) I'm not a long term fan - I do what I feel to be good ideas and hope I am picked up by the staff if I plagiarize old stuff. 2) I wouldn't dream of touching the River Song storyline. It's Steven's baby. I think certain characters just scream ownership, and that's one of them. Other characters I would probably go case by case. 3) I've seen various cuts of my eps, but tonight was the first time with full music/effects etc.

num42133729 karma

I wish I could comment on the episode but I live in the US and can't watch i as it airs on BBC. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you and all the current writers for making one of the best seasons so far in a while. I've loved pretty much every episode. Is it hard writing for a new doctor that hasn't been fully explored yet or does that just give you more freedom to do whatever you want?

packmath97 karma

I wrote my first draft of Flatline not even knowing that Capaldi had been cast. Then I had a meeting with Mr Moffat where he outlined his vision of the 12th Doctor. I found myself picturing Dr Gregory House... from House. Which is not exactly how the 12th turned out, but it worked as good shorthand in my head for the next couple of drafts; cutting, rude but ultimately there to save lives. Dr House in the Tardis. Come on!

WingedSorcerer27 karma

Which episode did you write first and do you think it was was it more difficult to write two back to back episodes than it would be to write two disconnected episodes?

On an unrelated note is anything happening with ALT? I haven't heard anything about it in so long and I thought it sounded rather good.

packmath48 karma

I wrote a few drafts of Flatline first, then I got offered Mummy, wrote a few drafts of that, then went back to Flatline. As I was following myself, it was easier to know where I was going - if you follow me...

As for Alt, it's gone back to the E4 lab. Not allowed to say any more than that...

fielddb37526 karma

What is your favorite line you've made the Doctor say?

packmath86 karma

It comes next week. Spoilers...

BigBlackHungGuy23 karma

If you had a chance to edit "Blink" what would you change?

packmath76 karma

Not a second. But I am curious what prompted the question... do you have an edit in mind? Remove those pesky angels, perhaps...

iamateenagehandmodel23 karma

How do you get noticed as a writer in television?

packmath84 karma

A slow climb up a tall mountain. In 2000 I left my day job in Royal Mail Customer Services to pursue Stand up comedy. First TV work was Catchphrase, then Family Fortunes, then My Parents are Aliens, then FAQ About Time Travel, then Being Human and so on. 14 years in two lines...

TyrannosaurusRekts22 karma

What has been your favorite episode of Doctor Who ever? Thanks for your work!

packmath46 karma

Blink. Or The Pandorica Opens.

vaskr19 karma

How do you convincingly write for a genius like the doctor?

packmath53 karma

Dumb myself down.

Seriously tho, something to remember is that you can spend ages doing research and constructing a line of technobabble that he is going to deliver with speed and aplomb. It's all smoke and mirrors kids.

But there is something lovely about writing lines for The Doctor. Have to remind myself of that.

moorddroom19 karma

Do you ever think about altering dialogue for an accent? That certain words just sound better/worse while spoken by some actors.

And thank you for using "are you my mummy?". Effing brilliant.

packmath28 karma

Don't really think about accents, no. I think I have 12's voice in my head now.

Using 'Are you my mummy.' was a fairly late addition. The question was where to put it....

srslystopplz18 karma

What scriptwriting software do you prefer/use?

packmath46 karma

Final Draft is the industry standard in my experience. Never had a problem with it, but I've heard some horror stories. But I'm a computer nerd, so I backup like a mother...

jbordick17 karma

Do you have any favorite things/outside interests you find yourself giving a nod to when writing? If so, what are they typically, and how do you slip them in easiest to the story?

packmath33 karma

Well, comics got a nod. The Excelsior life extender was the name of the wheelchair that Mrs Pitt died in. And Excelsior is Stan Lee's catchphrase.

I also namechecked a ton of friends and rellies in the story. Just about every name/surname on there belonged to someone I know or share blood with...

Bashlet17 karma

What was your favourite part of writing episodes of DW? Was there anything you wanted to do or say in them that were ultimately scrapped?

packmath66 karma

I found the meetings with Steven great fun. Bouncing around ideas, breaking the story. There are a couple of filmed scenes from Mummy, cut for time. The first takes place in the 'lab carriage'. The Doctor notices that people have lit a candle near the scroll and are leaving trinkets and money. Perkins calls it a memorial. The Doctor is angry and insists it's a shrine and basically rants against superstition. I can see why it was cut as it doesn't advance the plot, but I loved it. The second was a 'Farewell Maisie' scene, which occurred on the planet at the end. Maisie was revealed near the fire, bringing back firewood. She mentioned that when the Doctor removed her pain and trauma, he took it away for good...

lostwonder16 karma

What's with the 66 seconds?

packmath76 karma

It's how long you have to live if you see a Mummy.

It's nice short amount of time in which you can panic but ultimately die. It's also an echo of 666 which is the number of the beast, as ever metal fan knows..

Dunkh9 karma

Is tonight's episode influenced by treatments of Victorian literature? "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" or "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters". Also as a possible alternate title "Mummy On The Orion Express" Cheers!

packmath19 karma

The title was from Steven. But it suggested a few things; Agatha Christie, of course, steampunk, murder mysteries. At one point it was a little broader and more of a pastiche. Steven wisely told me to make it more real.

Kakumei_keahi8 karma

As a story geek, wannabe writer, I have always wanted to ask this broad question:

What amount of freedom do you get to use the characters and possibly make large changes? do you get specific limitations?

Clara's last moment change of heart in the last minuet of the episode, was that you leading into your second written episode? Were you charged with the graceful, yet, willful exit of Clara, questioning herself this time and then perhaps being concrete about leaving the doctor next episode? (Speculation)

packmath16 karma

Steven Moffat controls the broad arc across the season. If I suddenly said 'I want Clara to leave the Doctor in this episode.' He'd sigh and shake his head while peeling an apple with a very sharp knife, never once breaking eye contact. But Clara was in Mummy and given the events at the end of Kill the Moon, there had to be an arc that made sense of that. Thus, the last hurrah idea.

deanasaurs777 karma

Sir. When might we get a Grant Morrison episode of the show? The patrons of r/barbelith want to know.

packmath14 karma

Is he a fan? That would be a thing to see. I have no power over such things, but it's a interesting thought experiment, isn't it? Fave Morrison work for the record - The Filth.

tylersburden6 karma

Do you answer any questions at all?

packmath9 karma


Something_Wicker6 karma

I've always been fascinated by the process of collaborative writing that goes into making this show.

How much input did Steven Moffat have on your two scripts (or just Mummy, if you want to avoid Flatline spoilers)? Were you given a story outline and asked to expand it, or did you have more or less free rein? Were many scenes or moments added by Moffat after you handed in your last draft?

packmath10 karma

Steven steered me away from an overly complex version of what you just saw, which is too complex to get into here. He also direct wrote a few bits between Clara and the Doctor, which I feel is as it should be. Their relationship has to have continuity between scripts. The 'sad smile' stuff was him, the talk about Clara hating The Doctor.

thesk8rguitarist5 karma

Did you have access to the Who Bible? What was it like if so?

packmath10 karma

If there is one, I wasn't shown it. Perhaps there is an inner circle to which I am not yet privy.

DragonHorcrux4 karma

I loved the episode! Very excited for next week :) Now for my questions: Who's your favourite companion? And how did you get the idea for yesterday's episode?

packmath8 karma

Sally Sparrow. Heh.

And as for the idea for the ep, that's answered here: http://jamiemathieson.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/building-better-mummy.html