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Cartmel, Andrew

Entry updated 11 September 2023. Tagged: Author, Comics, TV.

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(1958-    ) UK computer worker, author and Television script editor for the 24th-26th seasons (1987-1989) of Doctor Who, covering Sylvester McCoy's stint as the Seventh Doctor. Cartmel went on to write a number of novels Tied to this and other series. His standalone novel The Wise (1999) is a supernatural tale.

The couple of years prior to Cartmel's appointment had not been good for Doctor Who, with the Controller of the BBC being hostile, weaker stories sometimes inclined towards sadism, and a script editor, Eric Saward, who appeared unsympathetic to the Doctor as a character: in the best story of the Colin Baker years, Saward's own Resurrection of the Daleks (1984), the Doctor is almost in a secondary role. Creatively, the series seemed to be on its last legs.

The sight of McCoy rolling around on the floor in the first episode of the 24th season, Time of the Rani (1987), did not inspire confidence, but by its final serial, Dragonfire (1987), matters had noticeably improved, with a story that felt more like Doctor Who, McCoy settling into the role and current companion Mel (Bonnie Langford) shuffled offstage to be replaced by the tougher Ace (Sophie Aldred) (see Women in SF). Budgetary constraints and Cartmel's lack of experience were always issues, but the 25th season continued the improvement, whilst the 26th was particularly strong with three memorable Doctor Who serials, Remembrance of the Daleks (1988), Ghostlight (1989) and The Curse of Fenric (1989).

Aside from Time of the Rani, the storylines were largely written by people brought in by Cartmel: Ben Aaronovitch, Ian Briggs, Kevin Clarke, Graeme Curry, Malcolm Kohll, Rona Munro, Marc Platt and Stephen Wyatt; Munro was the only person to write episodes for both eras of the series. Unfortunately the improvement in stories was not reflected in the viewing figures and the show was cancelled, but the series had ended in a creatively healthy state and its direction was followed by Russell T Davies and colleagues when Doctor Who was revived in 2005 – such as the focus on the Doctor's companions and making the Daleks scary again.

The so-called "Cartmel Masterplan", composed with Aaronovitch and Platt, was a proposed backstory to the Doctor intended to make him more mysterious; the cancellation of the show meant this never got beyond showing him to be an accomplished manipulator of events, with hints dropped that he was a major figure in Timelord history; however, it played a part in the Virgin New Adventures novels. Though the original series had often been Political, it was determinedly so during this period, most overtly with the anti-Thatcherite The Happiness Patrol (1988).

Cartmel, who has cited Alan Moore as a significant influence on his work, has co-scripted a number of Graphic Novel tie-ins to Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series [see Checklist below]. Beside the books listed below he has also written crime thrillers and scripted further Comics for 2000 AD and for Marvel Comics UK. [SP]

see also: Starburst.

Andrew J Cartmel

born Woolwich, London: 6 April 1958

works (selected)


Doctor Who: New Adventures

Doctor Who

Judge Dredd

2000AD: Strontium Dog

The Prisoner

  • Miss Freedom (Los Angeles, California: Powys Media, 2008) [tie to The Prisoner: The Prisoner: pb/]

Rivers of London/Peter Grant graphic novels

individual titles



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