Cystic Fibrosis, Lockdown & Doctor Who

Cystic Fibrosis & Lockdown/Shielding
Due to my Cystic Fibrosis I am classed as a Clinically Extremely Vulnerable person, which means during the pandemic brought on by Coronavirus aka COVID-19, I’ve had to go into shielding since the lockdown first occurred in March 2020.

During the lockdown and shielding, I turned to film making and explored what films I could make using the resources I have in green screen and the edit suite software such as After Effects and Premiere Pro. I’ve already made blogs about this at the time as linked below.

Week 1: The Muppet Show
Week 2: The Muppet Show
Week 3: The Muppet Show
Jim Henson tribute

Basic green screen set used for The Muppet Show

I learned a lot about working with green screen, building 3D CGI sets, animation and choreography, which as you can see in the final video below how these come together to make a film.

The Muppet Show
Filmed in April 2020 during lockdown 1

During the making of The Muppet Show, I realised the basic set used was too small for some of the puppets used, so built a much larger set in the spare bedroom, which has since been built to a much larger scale for the more recent Doctor Who film projects.

Inspiration of Doctor Who & Cystic Fibrosis storylines
In 1998 I wrote a story called Genesis of a Time Lord, which used Doctor Who to tell the story of what it is like to live with Cystic Fibrosis. In 2003 I took an extract from the novel and made a film. Here is a link to a blog about the making of the film and includes a download of the original novel.

The Screenplay of 2003

Considering the resources, edit suite and lack of actors, I feel I did a good job of the film, which sees Wythenshawe Hospital and the Cystic Fibrosis clinic used as a backdrop.  The receptionist, Pauline Jacklin, and Professor Webb in the film aren’t actors, but actually work in the Cystic Fibrosis unit and played themselves.  Professor Webb has looked after me since I was 16 years old and I’ve known Pauline Jacklin for at least 20 years.  Pauline since retired in December 2020.

Master of Deception came about as a suggestion by a fellow Cystic Fibrosis, friend Chris Strand, who played himself in the episode. He watched Genesis of a Time Lord and suggested I did a remake with the resources I now have.

Although I thought this was a brilliant idea, I knew keeping faithful to the novel version of Genesis of a Time Lord still wouldn’t be possible. Mainly due to the number of actors, costumes, props and sets required. The scale of the production and budget would be similar to the BBC.

However the idea behind Master of Deception was to use the Genesis film as an explanation why Earth is often invaded by Daleks, Cybermen and other Doctor Who aliens whilst telling the story of how Cystic Fibrosis life would have been affected had the Cystic Fibrosis gene had not been discovered in 1989.

How film making has helped with lockdown/shielding
Filming has helped keep my mind working. Plus there’s a lot of physical work involved too.  Making the console changed how I make films vastly and the episodes COVID, Master of Death and Planet Unknown were tests to see what I could and couldn’t do with the resources I now have. I’ve learned a lot from these and learned how to work with green screen and the console to give the films a professional finish.

Future Doctor Who episodes
I’ve written episodes 5, 6 and 7 with the script for episode 5 almost ready to start filming.

Episode 5, Master of Dimensions, will look at how the Cystic Fibrosis interact with each other. In reality interactions usually take place on social media such as Facebook. In Doctor Who, the story looks at how the Cystic Fibrosis community interact with each other through dreams.

Episode 6, The Hybrid, will look at the basic science behind the making of vaccines and treatments, not just for CF, but for general illnesses. This episode will feature a new look Silurian.

The Silurian design as seen in 1970 and 2010
The Silurian Hybrid

The costume I have (Silurian Hybrid) was designed and made by Robin, who is also writing the script. The Silurian Hybrid will feature in the episode and become a new companion for the Doctor.

Episode 7, title TBC, will explore a behind the scenes of how the TARDIS scenes are made, which sees the Doctor visiting Peter.  This will more or less be a documentary drama with some comical interactions between the Doctor and Peter.

Inspiration for the Doctor Who episodes
When writing and filming these recent Doctor Who episodes, fellow Doctor Who fan Robin, who lives in Isle of Man, has inspired how the history of Doctor Who can be used to make new episodes whilst fellow CFer Chris, who lives in Manchester, has inspired how the workings of CF and related issues such as diabetes can be used to make CF related storylines.

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