Doctor Who writer Toby Whithouse shares secret of success at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

Toby Whithouse will be in conversation at New Theatre Royal on Wednesday.
Toby Whithouse will be in conversation at New Theatre Royal on Wednesday.
Tom Chambers as Bobby in Crazy For You. Picture by Richard Davenport

REVIEW: Crazy For You, at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton

  • Toby Whithouse is at New Theatre Royal on Wednesday, November 11 from 7.30pm - 9pm
  • Tickets: £15
  • Visit newtheatreroyal.com or call (023) 9264 9000 to book
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He is the man behind the hit BBC3 series Being Human and his words are voiced by The Doctor to millions of viewers.

And on Wednesday at 7.30pm screenwriter Toby Whithouse, who is a senior writer for Doctor Who, will share his secrets for success at New Theatre Royal.

The talk, which sees Toby in conversation with New Theatre Royal Creative Lab Associate and playwright Bernie Byrnes, will cover a selection of topics, including how to approach writing for the stage and screen.

Toby’s path to his current career was a winding one – he trained to be an actor at Guildford School of Music and Drama before the infamously fickle profession forced him to take matters into his own hands.

He says: ‘I did work as an actor. I was in a television series for a couple of years so I was being put up for a lot of auditions and getting sent a lot of scripts. I used to read some of them and think “these are absolutely terrible” and I wasn’t getting the parts I did go for. So I had this plan to write a script and put it on for me and my unemployed actor friends. It was something to do.’

This play turned out to be Jump Mr Malinoff, Jump, which was first performed in 2000 to wide acclaim.

‘Following on from that,’ Toby adds, ‘I was offered lots of TV scripts to write. You are more in control of your environment as a writer, whereas actors are constantly waiting for someone to give them an opportunity. To write you don’t need to get an audition; it is more of a meritocracy. As a writer I am not going to lose a job to someone because they are taller than me.’

Toby says it is crucial for new writers to find their own voice.

‘That is what ultimately will make you a valuable commodity. At first, I found myself channelling other writers, which is perhaps necessary at first. But then you take bits you like from one writer or another and meld it into your own style.’

For his work on Doctor Who, Toby has to share a character with other writers. He says it is a gig that for him is the exception to his own personal rule.

They say dance like no-one’s watching – well, I say write like no-one’s reading

Toby Whithouse

‘Doctor Who is a very special case for me, because I would never normally write episodes on somebody else’s show. But there is something so ridiculous and magical about it.’

When asked if he would consider taking the reins from present head writer Steven Moffat if they were handed to him, Toby says he ‘tries not to think about it.’

‘I think that Steven should be doing it for at least another 15 years.’

Aside from his work with time lords, Toby’s best-known televisual creation is the supernatural drama series Being Human.

It was nominated for three Bafta awards and enjoyed high viewer ratings, but it was a project that Toby never expected to take off.

‘The scripts you enjoy writing the most are the ones you think will never get made. You write for the pure enjoyment of it. That was the case with Being Human, because it came out of a very long development process.

‘They say dance like no-one’s watching – well, I say write as if no-one’s reading.’

Tickets: £15, visit newtheatreroyal.com or call (023) 9264 9000 to book.