Neil Gaiman’s script for the beloved British Doctor Who is decidedly Doctor Who, the fantasist said this past Sunday, during a segment of the three-day, celeb-infused New Yorker Festival. “Classic Doctor Who episodes are always filmed at some point in a quarry, and I’m incredibly pleased to say they have spent the last week filming in a quarry, in the rain, which is awesome.” The episode is set to air around Easter of next year, and will feature actress Suranne Jones in a guest role as a character called Idris, who Gaiman revealed “may very well be an old acquaintance of the doctor with a new face.”
The tidbit came at the end of an hour of conversation between Gaiman and New Yorker staffer Dana Goodyear, who profiled him earlier this year for the magazine. Speaking to a packed hall, Gaiman unwound a string of anecdotes in practiced style. His explanation of how his fantastically creepy children’s book Coraline came to be started with a line as sinister as any he’s written: “Because Morgan DeFoire lied.” DeFoire, the daughter of Gaiman’s longtime agent Merrilee Heifetz, acted as a litmus test back when the manuscript was still thought unpublishable for a young audience. It was decided that if Morgan and her sister Emily could stand the book without being “traumatized,” as Gaiman put it, Heifetz would reconsider consigning Coraline to the adult bin with all the other horror novels. The girls proved Gaiman right, listening with faces more eager than petrified, and the book went on to claim the loyalty of children around the world, winning two awards (a Hugo and Nebula) and a movie contract, before becoming a musical. At the off-Broadway premiere of the show, Gaiman learned what Morgan DeFoire, seated beside him, had really thought of Coraline.
“I told her, ‘You know, we kind of have you to thank for all this, because you weren’t scared by it. And she said, ‘Actually, I was terrified. But I wanted to know what happened next. I knew if I let anybody know I was scared, I wouldn’t find out.’”
The Doctor Who project is the only known offering in the near future from the prolific writer. No doubt after the episode’s debut, he’ll have another story to tell.