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Frank Cottrell-Boyce, writer of Smile, tells DWM why his episode is set on a Utopian world, and explains how Dystopian fiction has morphed into reality…

“Did you like it?” asks Frank Cottrell-Boyce in a softly spoken, relaxed Liverpool accent that suggests he’s anything but worried. “I’m so nervous about it.”

DWM is catching up with Frank just over a week before the broadcast of Smile, the second episode of the 2017 series of Doctor Who – and Frank’s second script for the series, following on from 2014’s In the Forest of the Night. Considering a lengthy CV that stretches back 30 years and takes in TV, film, books and critically acclaimed Olympic opening ceremonies, are nerves just a part of the job for a ‘first night’?

“Only for Doctor Who,” admits Frank. “You feel really nervous about Doctor Who because you grew up with it and there’s a vocal fan base out there, but you’ve got to just forget about that, come off Twitter and not think about it.”

It’s the Easter holidays, which means Frank is in the thick of domestic activity during our phone conversation. “Everybody’s coming home for Easter, so I’m picking things up, dropping things off,” he says apologetically while preparing lunch. As a father of seven, it makes for a lively home life. “I live in a noisy, chaotic house, and I think it maybe makes you value silence more.”

In a contrast to Frank’s domestic reality (which he clearly thrives on), the first half of Smile is punctuated with moments of silence, centring on the Doctor and Bill investigating the empty walkways of the futuristic buildings found on colony world Gliese 581 D.

“The brief was to write Bill’s first big adventure in space,” explains Frank, “so I wanted it to be a two-hander, and part of that two-hander is just them sharing quiet together and letting her work out who the Doctor is, for us, again.”

It’s a remarkably traditional opening…

“Yeah, it feels like a 1960s episode of Doctor Who, and there was a lot more of that in the script. There was a lot more walking around and I wanted that 60s thing. If you think about William Hartnell’s Doctor, the current Doctor is now a teacher, and back then they had that sage old man who knew stuff; the Gandalf figure, that wise old chap.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • Previews of the new episodes Knock Knock, Oxygen, Extremis and The Pyramid at the End of the World • Knock Knock guest star David Suchet is interviewed • An in-depth interview with Doctor Who the director of the first two episodes of the new series, The Pilot and Smile: Lawrence Gough • Doctor Who writers Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Smile) and Sarah Dollard (Thin Ice) reveal the stories behind their scripts • Bill Potts makes her comic strip début in the first part of the new comic strip adventure The Soul Garden, by Scott Gray, with art by Martin Geraghty. • It's the end of the world as we know it as The Fact of Fiction delves into the 1966 story The Ark. • DWM reviews of the first three episodes of the new series: The Pilot, Smile and Thin Ice. • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!