Russell T Davies
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Stephen Russell DaviesBorn: Sat 27th April 1963 (age: 50)
Russell T Davies is best known as the creative force behind the revived series of Doctor Who launched in the spring of 2005. he was show-runner throughout the era of the Nineth and Tenth Doctors.
Davis born in Mount Pleasant Hospital, Swansea, the youngest of three children and the only son.
At the age of fourteen, Davies auditioned for and joined the newly formed West Glamorgan Youth Theatre (WGYT). The group's founder and director, Godfrey Evans, considered him to be "a total all-rounder" who was talented and popular with the other students. Working with the group allowed him to define his own sexual identity: he embarked on a several-month relationship with fellow youth thespian Rhian Morgan, and later came out as homosexual in his teenage years.
In 1981, Davis was accepted by Worcester College, Oxford to study for an English literature degree. At Oxford, he realised that he was enamoured with the narrative aspect of fiction, especially nineteenth-century literature such as Charles Dickens.
Davies was taken on as a member of the BBC Wales Children's department in 1985 and was initially given one-day contracts and commissions, such as illustrating for Why Don't You...?. On 1 June 1987, Davies made his first and only appearance as a television presenter on Play School alongside regular presenter Chloë Ashcroft. Why Don't You...? line producer Peter Charlton suggested that he should take his career public, because he thought he would "be good on camera". Eventually granted the opportunity for sporadic appearances over a period of six months, he hosted one episode as a storytelling illustrator before walking off the set and commenting that he "[was] not doing that again". The appearance remains an in-joke in the industry, and the recordings were invariably requested for any wrap parties Davies attended.
During his tenure on Why Don't You...?, Davies oversaw the creation and production of a story that took place in Loch Ness. The story was the precursor for his first freelance children's project: Dark Season. The show, originally called The Adventuresome Three, would feature the Why Don't You...? characters in a purely dramatic setting influenced by his favourite television shows in his childhood. He submitted the script simultaneously to the head of the BBC's Children's department, Anna Home, and Granada Television. The first three episodes of Dark Season feature three young teenagers in a contemporary secondary school, Reet (Kate Winslet), Marcie (Victoria Lambert), and Tom (Ben Chandler) who discover a plot by the villain Mr Eldritch (Grant Parsons) to take over the world using school computers.
In September 1997, Davies started to develop a series for Channel 4 which reflected the "hedonistic lifestyle" of the gay quarter of Manchester. Encouraged by ex-Granada executives Catriona MacKenzie and Gub Neil to "go gay", the series would focus on a group of friends in Manchester's gay scene, tentatively titled The Other End of the Ballroom, and later, Queer as Fuck.
The series transmission in early 1999 came when Parliament were discussing LGBT equality; the series première aired on the day the House of Lords was discussing the Sexual Offences Act 1999, which would have reduced the age of consent for homosexual couples to 16. The transmission of the première was controversial, in particular because of Nathan's age of 15, and received 136 complaints to Ofcom, in addition to disapproval from his parents and conservative activist Mary Whitehouse.
Davies next project was Bob and Rose, based on a gay friend who married a woman and fathered a child. He saw the relationship as a promising concept for an unconventional love story and asked the couple about their relationship to develop the show.After originally developing the series around the prejudice that he and his gay friends had shown, he realised he was creating caricatures for the purpose of exposing them, and instead focused on telling a traditional love story and gave the couple the traditionally British names of Bob Gossage and Rose Cooper.
Shortly after the transmission of Bob & Rose, Davies was approached by Abbott to help write for his new BBC show Linda Green. He accepted the offer and wrote an episode where the titular character, portrayed by Liza Tarbuck, and her friends attend a schoolmate's funeral and become psychologically haunted by the deceased woman's solitary life.
Hi next project, The Second Coming had been several years in the making and had endured many rewrites from the first draft presented to Channel 4 in 2000, but retained its key concept of a realistic depiction of the Second Coming of Christ with a humanity-centred deity. Davies approached Christopher Eccleston to play the leading role, based on his performance as Nicky Hutchinson in the drama Our Friends in the North. The Second Coming was controversial from conception. When it was a Channel 4 project, it was the focus of a Sunday Express article a year before its original projected transmission date of late-2001. The series was eventually broadcast from 9–10 February 2003 to 6.3 million and 5.4 million viewers respectively, and received mixed reactions from the audience. Davies would receive death threats for its atheistic message and criticism for its anti-climatic ending, but would later be nominated for two Television Awards and one Royal Television Society Award.
Davies' next project would see him return to Swansea to film a series centred on a family's discovery that they owned the entire city. Based on the tale of the Welsh pirate Robert Edwards and his descendants' claim to 77 acres (310,000 m2) of real estate in Lower Manhattan, New York City, The Vivaldi Inheritance, later renamed Mine All Mine, was born out of Davies' return to Wales and his reflection of the role of family since his mother's death.
Shortly after the transmission of Mine All Mine, the BBC commissioned Davies to produce the revival of Doctor Who, completing his decade-long quest to return the series to the airwaves. At the same time, he was developing two scripts: the first, a cinematic adaptation of the Charles Ingram Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? scandal, was cancelled after he accepted the Doctor Who job; and the second, a dramatisation of the life of the Venetian adventurer and lover Giacomo Casanova, would be his next show with Red Productions.
Davies' association with Casanova began when London Weekend Television producers Julie Gardner, Michele Buck, and Damien Timmer approached him to write a 21st-century adaptation. He accepted to script the series because it was "the best subject in the world" and, after reading Casanova's memoirs, sought to create a realistic depiction of Casanova instead of further perpetuating the stereotype of a hypersexual lover. Casanova was filmed alongside the first few episodes of the new series of Doctor Who, which prompted producers common to both projects, including Davies and Gardner, to make daily journeys between the former's production in Lancashire and Cheshire and the latter's production in Cardiff.
Since watching the First Doctor's (William Hartnell) regeneration into the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) at the end of the 1966 serial The Tenth Planet, Davies had "fallen in love" with the show and, by the mid-70s, was regularly writing reviews of broadcast serials in his diary. His favourite writer and childhood hero was Robert Holmes; during his career, he has complimented the creative use of BBC studios to create "terror and claustrophobia" for Holmes' 1975 script The Ark in Space and has opined that the first episode of The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977) featured "the best dialogue ever written; it's up there with Dennis Potter".
Doctor Who was the first show he voluntarily wrote a pitch for—regularly, he opted to outline concepts of shows to commissioning executives and offer to write the pilot episode, because he felt that a pitch made him "feel like [he's] killing the work".The fifteen-page pitch outlined a Doctor who was "your best friend; someone you want to be with all the time", the eighteen-year-old Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) as a "perfect match" for the new Doctor, avoidance of the forty-year back story "except for the good bits", the retention of the TARDIS, sonic screwdriver, and Daleks, removal of the Time Lords, and a greater focus on humanity. His pitch was submitted for the first production meeting in December 2003, with a series of thirteen episodes obtained by pressure from BBC Worldwide and a workable budget from Julie Gardner.
The first new series of Doctor Who featured eight scripts by Davies, the remainder being allocated to experienced drama writers and previous writers for the show's ancillary releases: Steven Moffat would pen a two-episode story, while Mark Gatiss, Robert Shearman, and Paul Cornell would each write one script.
By early 2004, the show had settled into a regular production cycle. Davies, Gardner, and BBC Controller of Drama Mal Young took posts as executive producers, while Phil Collinson, an old colleague from Granada, took the role of producer.Davies' official role as head writer and executive producer, or "showrunner", consisted of laying a skeletal plot for the entire series, holding "tone meetings" to correctly identify the tone of an episode, often being described in one word—for example, the "tone word" for Moffat's "The Empty Child" was "romantic"—and overseeing all aspects of production.
In October 2005, BBC Three Controller Stuart Murphy invited Davies to create a post-watershed Doctor Who spin-off in the wake of the parent series' popularity. Torchwood, named after a anagrammatic title ruse used to dissuade leaks of Doctor Who's first series, incorporated elements from an abandoned Davies project titled Excalibur alongside the pansexual 51st century time-traveller Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and a team of alien hunters in Cardiff. The show began production in April 2006 and was marketed through foreshadowing in the main story arc of Doctor Who's second series, which portrayed Torchwood as a covert governmental organisation that monitor, exploit, and suppress the existence of extraterrestrial life and technology. Upon its transmission, Torchwood was one of BBC Three's most popular shows; however, it received criticism for "adolescent" use of sexual and violent themes. This led the production team to alter the format to be subtler in its portrayal of adult themes.
Concurrently, he was approached to produce a CBBC show which was described as Young Doctor Who.Reluctant to diminish the mystery of the Doctor's character, he proposed a show starring Elisabeth Sladen as the once-popular companion Sarah Jane Smith. The Sarah Jane Adventures was a show similar in style to the failed 1981 spin-off K-9 and Company, and portrayed Sarah Jane investigating aliens with local schoolchildren in the London Borough of Ealing. The show was given a backdoor pilot as the Doctor Who episode "School Reunion" and premièred in its own right with "Invasion of the Bane" on 1 January 2007.
In September 2008, BBC Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing, published The Writer's Tale, a collection of emails between Davies and Radio Times and Doctor Who Magazine journalist Benjamin Cook. Dubbed the "Great Correspondence" by Davies and Cook, The Writer's Tale covers a period between February 2007 and March 2008 and explores his writing processes and the development of his scripts for the fourth series of Doctor Who: "Voyage of the Damned", "Partners in Crime", "Midnight", "Turn Left", "The Stolen Earth", and "Journey's End".