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As Comic Relief counts down towards Red Nose Day 2017, we spoke to the charity’s co-founder, Richard Curtis, to find out a little about his two brushes with Doctor Who: 1999’s The Curse of Fatal Death and 2010’s Vincent and the Doctor…

Ouirky Who vignettes have become a tradition for the BBC’s two charity telethons – Comic Relief and Children in Need – but by 1999 they seemed like they might have become a thing of the past. Richard Curtis, patron saint of Comic Relief, relied on talented backroom staff to make each biennial Red Nose Day’s entertainment inspire the people of Britain to reach for their credit cards, and chief among these bods was TV producer Sue Vertue, daughter of legendary producer Beryl and wife of then celebrated farceur Steven Moffat.

“We would go through every available brand, be it dead or alive, that we might parody,” Richard recalls, “and my guess is that she mentioned Steven’s Who love. I definitely went to their wedding and was a friend of them both, so that’s my guess of how it came about.”

Unlike their chosen writer, Richard Curtis was no die-hard Doctor Who fan, but despite a childhood that saw him living in exotic locations around the world, he says, “I’ve got all the memories I should have. My essential watching period was the chap with the lisp, Jon Pertwee, and a lot of Tom Baker, and a bit of Davison. But we used to watch it a lot, on a rainy Saturday evening or whenever. I have a pretty good grounding!” “My memory of it isn’t necessarily any more reliable than anyone else’s, but…” Steven Moffat begins, before proving himself wrong: “Sue told me that what they do is work out who they can get to do stuff for free! And knowing that I was a big Doctor Who fan, she said I would probably be keen. So yes, I leapt at it, and did a lot of work on it – it’s about 20 minutes long, and I was there for all three days of the filming. Because I really did think, in perhaps the wrongest prediction of all time, it would be the only time I’d ever get to write Doctor Who. It seemed as far away from coming back as it could be, with the American TV version [starring Paul McGann in 1996] not having performed well enough over there, it seemed absolutely dead. This seemed like my only shot – that’s why I did it.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: A tribute to Sir John Hurt, the man who played the War Doctor, featuring contributions from those whose knew and worked with him, including David Tennant; Richard Curtis is interviewed about his Doctor work, including The Curse of Fatal Death and Vincent and the Doctor; showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers' questions; a look at the history of the home video recording of Doctor Who; the SFX of The Invisible Enemy, the story that took on Star Wars; Sydney Newman's attempts to reinvent Doctor Who in the 1980s is revealed; the Time Team watch Day of the Moon; new comic strip adventure as the Doctor faces the original Master in Doorway to Hell part three; DWM interviews the people behind the fanzine Vworp! Vworp! ; plus official news, reviews, previews, the Wotcha! page, prize-winning competitions and more!