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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 513 > TAKING OUR BREATH AWAY!


Doctor Who meets ‘Space Zombies’ in Oxygen! Writer Jamie Mathieson talks us through the process of turning space suits into marauding monsters…

It’s six weeks before the transmission of Oxygen – Episode 5 of the latest series of Doctor Who – and Doctor Who Magazine is on the blower to writer Jamie Mathieson. The man who put a mummy on the Orient Express, gave two-dimensional invaders depth, and bestowed immortality upon Ashildr is talking about killing Bill Potts – that horrific, oddly beautiful scene where the Ganymede Systems Series 12 smart suits disable her central nervous system and she slumps forward, lifeless.

“I’ve not seen it yet, but there’s something quite nice about the powerlessness of that scene,” shares Jamie. “The suits are coming from behind Bill and she can’t even move. It has that dreamlike ‘running through treacle’ vibe to it. Part of the viewer knows you’re not really going to kill off Bill halfway through the series, but still…”

Jamie tells DWM that Bill wasn’t always going to join the suited horde against the Doctor and the Chasm Forge survivors, though…

“For a few drafts we had corpses all around Bill and her talking to the Doctor over the radio, saying, ‘What do I do?’”

“I wrote an earlier version of that whole sequence in which, rather than ‘dying’, Bill comes to again after a few minutes, but surrounded by the suits,” he says. “For a few drafts we had that, these corpses all around her and her talking to the Doctor over the radio, saying, ‘What do I do?’ And as a scene, it felt like a real jewel in the crown. It was horrific, these monsters two inches from her face, thinking she’s dead, and she has to pretend to be. Everyone agreed it was a great scene, and it was almost like I was protecting it as I redrafted other things around it.

“But it was a classic example of ‘kill your darlings’ – because I was protecting that scene, the climax didn’t work as well as it might have done. It needed the direct line through to the Doctor saying, ‘Right, we’re going to blow ourselves up,’ but it just didn’t work with Bill in another place. [Showrunner] Steven Moffat did a pass on the script and got rid of it entirely, and suddenly the ending worked. It just shows you that if you cut the thing everyone is clapping their hands at, another part of the story can come into focus.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • Exclusive previews of the next four episodes of the 2017 series of Doctor Who – The Lie of the Land, Empress of Mars, The Eaters of Light, and World Enough and Time. Plus, interviews writers Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Toby Whithouse and Rona Munro. • Showrunner Steven Moffat answers reader's questions. • A look into how one of the original Ice Warrior helmets from the1960s has survived to the present day. • An in-depth interview with Jamie Mathieson, who reveals the secrets behind the writing of episode 5, Oxygen. • Part Two of the new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill: The Soul Garden, by Scott Gray, with art by Martin Geraghty. • Reviews of the latest episodes, Knock Knock, Oxygen, Extremis and The Pyramid at the End of the World. • The Fact of Fiction delves into the 1967 story The Macra Terror. • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!