Mutually Assured Destruction – Interview with Lizzie Hopley

The third and final (ish) full-cast audio in the Time Lord Victorious mega-story has just arrived from Big Finish with Mutually Assured Destruction by Lizzie Hopley. After the Eighth Doctor’s uneasy alliance with the Daleks ended about as well as you’d expect, the Doctor is trapped in a fight for survival…

The fallout of the great battle.

Outnumbered and alone, on a Dalek time-ship careering through the vortex, the Doctor must use all his cunning to survive. As the saucer disintegrates around them, the Doctor is trapped with a crew of increasingly desperate Daleks.

Or are the Daleks trapped with him?

Synopsis

Doctor Who – Time Lord Victorious: Mutually Assured Destruction is out now and is available from the Big Finish website.

Interview with Lizzie Hopley

With the Time Lord Victorious event moving towards its conclusion, how did Lizzie get involved with writing its final audio outing?

I got a call out of the blue from the glorious Matt Fitton. I was in the middle of another script for him and he said how’s about ditching that for now and writing ‘Die Hard on a Dalek Ship?’ I didn’t have to think twice. It was the best pitch I’d received ever for a script.

Lizzie Hopley
Mutually Assured Destruction by Lizzie Hopley
Mutually Assured Destruction by Lizzie Hopley

With two previous stories to build on, how did she and Matt Fitton handle the storyline?

I didn’t really have that responsibility as this story was kind of a standalone adventure. Matt gave me the starting off point and where I had to get to by the end. I quite liked having the free rein but there are a lot of clever brains who have designed and held the whole of TLV in their brains. I’m looking forward to seeing how Die Hard with Daleks fits in. 

Lizzie Hopley

Paul McGann

As well as being a prolific writer, Lizzie is also an actor and has worked with Big Finish in both capacities. Among her many credits, Lizzie played Gemma – erstwhile companion of the Eighth Doctor – working alongside Paul McGann in 2005’s Terror Firma. Did seeing him play the Doctor up close help the writing process?

Definitely. I could hear his voice in my head throughout. He was quite a quiet presence in the studio when I worked with him. A lot of thinking, then he’d make a joke or an observation and come to life with all this colour – very like his Doctor. Charming and spontaneous. Of course, I then had to imagine him in a Bruce Willis vest which was a chore. 

Lizzie Hopley

And what about tying into the larger Time Lord Victorious narrative, like the Eighth Doctor’s other adventures both before and after Mutually Assured Destruction?

I think I got away with most of that as it was very much an action story, rather than continuity laden plot. A different kind of challenge as I’d never written quite such an action packed audio before.

Lizzie Hopley
Terror Firma by Joseph Lidster (c) Big Finish Productions
Terror Firma by Joseph Lidster (c) Big Finish Productions

Die Hard with Daleks

With such a bizarre brief as Die Hard with Daleks, which part of the writing process did Lizzie most enjoy?

Spoiler alert! It was definitely the scene between the Doctor and the Scientist. I needed to convey weightlessness on audio so decided to throw in a waltz in anti-gravity. It was the perfect blend of Paul’s cavalier flair and uptight Dalek logic! I can’t wait to hear that scene and how it’s been designed by the Big Finish sound wizards. 

Lizzie Hopley

Released last month, Lizzie contributed Castle Hydra, a story to the Doctor Who Main Range release Shadow of the Daleks. However, despite the title, that particular story didn’t feature any Daleks making Mutually Assured Destruction her first time writing for them. How did she approach such a task?

I sought some advice from Nick Briggs as I’d not written for Daleks before. He was brilliant, aside from saying if I got it wrong, he’d just rewrite it – fair enough!

Lizzie Hopley

With Daleks ticked off the bucket list, are there any more Doctor Who characters Lizzie would love to write for some day?

I had a list and one by one, they’re all getting ticked off. I really can’t say any more! I feel very lucky. Saying that, I always had a soft spot for Turlough…

Lizzie Hopley

And finally, in a shameless bid for an exclusive, I asked Lizzie if she can tease any upcoming projects.

Can’t say a word, sorry! I’ve been lucky in that I’ve spend most of both lockdowns writing for Big Finish and there’s a lot coming up that I’m excited by. Look out for a character called Miskavel – a few of us have worked on her recently and I’m particularly proud of her.  

Lizzie Hopley

With thanks to Lizzie Hopley for taking the time to chat with me and Big Finish for their support.

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