Instead of a Sunday GCC Preview this week, we have the first of a bunch of interviews this week with big figures in geekdom. First up, Dan Freeman. He’s a big writer/producer/director in the world of “radiophonic dramas,” having worked in the world of Doctor Who and, most recently, his new Minister of Chance series. It was terrific to talk to him and I think you’ll enjoy it!
Firstly, Geek Crash Course is a show designed to inform those outside-looking-in on geek culture. Could you give our readers a quick Geek Crash Course on The Minister of Chance in your own words?
The Minister is a Timelord, originally played by Stephen Fry in the BBC Doctor Who series Death Comes to Time, now regenerated into Julian Wadham. He doesn’t have a TARDIS, he travels by making doorways from world to world. He also has a companion, Kitty, played by Lauren Crace. The series is a radiophonic podcast, and its free, so I hope all your readers will give it a try! It’s at www.ministerofchance.com. The production is funded by fans – there are two existing episodes and we’re planning Episode 3.
The Minister was first introduced in the Doctor Who audio Death Comes to Time, which created a much more mythical atmosphere for the world of the Time Lords. What was your inspiration in bringing this touch of myth and legend to the series?
Oh, good question! You know, I’m just not sure. I guess I’m not so interested in the paraphernalia of Sci-Fi, if you know what I mean? I think I wanted to extend and deepen the story and my sensibilities are more mythological than anything. I’m not really interested in gadgetry or detail, I’m interested in the bigger picture.
The ending of Death Comes to Time features the potential death of the Doctor. Was your intention to create a finite ending for the Doctor’s adventures or was there a plan for future adventures in this darker version of the so-called Whoniverse?
Well, we didn’t know what would happen, but I think we always planned to go forward with The Minister. Given that at that time, Doctor Who had long finished on the BBC, I thought it was best to do what they did with Star Trek TNG – to say a fond goodbye to the actual characters and to move ahead with completely new ones, but with a notional continuity – keeping the spirit of the thing. Hence, The Minister.
On to the Minister himself. The Minister of Chance follows the titular Time Lord in all-new adventures. How is it possible to make new Minister adventures, specifically in terms of potential licensing issues?
Actually, the weird thing is that there aren’t any licensing issues. He’s officially a Timelord according to the BBC, but I own him. He doesn’t have a TARDIS (it was revoked when he fought The Doctor in Death Comes to Time) and we don’t use the Daleks or any properties owned by outside parties. You have to remember that the BBC can’t use the Daleks and so on, they have to ask permission more than we do!
The cast of The Minister of Chance features some amazing actors, like Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Jenny Agutter, Paul Darrow, and of course Julian Wadham as the Minister himself. How were you able to get so many talented people in one place? What’s it like working with them?
Well to be honest they just liked the script and the whole project, and they all said yes. I’ve been wanting to work with Julian for years, he’s unbelievable, I love working with him. The whole cast are very easygoing and game and up for it, which is fantastic. They all get on well too, it’s great to see the Macs working together because they know each other of old, and Julian and Lauren get on really really well which is lovely to see. I can honestly say it’s a really fun atmosphere. That’s partly because McCoy and Darrow are great comedians so there are a lot of jokes going to and fro.
Any fun stories from the recordings?
Well there are those scenes where somebody starts laughing and then nobody can stop. I actually have quite a few of them on tape, I’m going to put them on the CD release. The main culprits were Julian and Lauren, there are photos on our Facebook page of them laughing for about five minutes and we couldn’t carry on!
The Minister of Chance recently ended a fundraiser for the third episode and released a sizzle reel for a potential film version. What can we expect from the future adventures of the Minister? Will we find out how the Minister got from the end of DCtT to the beginning of the first MoC episode?
At this I must smile very smugly and raise my eyebrows mysteriously, and try and look a lot cooler than I am. There are new characters coming, we find out more about The Horseman, there are some very cool new cast members that I think will get a loud squee from geeks…
Out of curiosity, how far out do you have the series planned?
Quite far ahead, I know what happens. It goes in seasons, each season has six eps.
Finally, a must-ask geek question: if you could choose any superpower, what would you pick?
The ability to locate car keys.
Thanks again for talking with us!
It’s my pleasure, thanks for asking, and thanks for helping to publicize The Minister of Chance!