Interview with Doctor Who Writer, Joseph Lidster

UPDATE: The Doctor Who: Cybermen Monster File is now only available from BBC Worldwide.

Doctor Who – The Cybermen Monster File Ebook is available to download now and contains a brilliant, brand new adventure called Cybermen: Status Update, written by Joseph Lidster (Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Wizards vs Aliens). 

We caught up with Joseph and asked him about the new adventure, his favourite Cyber moments and any advice he might have for aspiring writers…

Question: Could you sum up the new adventure, Cybermen: Status Update, in 140 characters or less?

Joseph Lidster: Status Update is the tale of a normal teenage boy living a normal teenage life until the day the Cybermen invade. And it features pork pies.

Q: Talk us through where Cybermen: Status Update came from… What inspired the story and the ideas for Jacob and BOB?

JL: I've found in the past that telling short stories in the first person gives you more of a chance to tell something a bit different. There have been so many brilliant Cybermen stories over the years so it can be quite difficult to come up with something new for them to do - and even harder to do this in a short story. By telling it from the point of view of a teenage boy it allowed me to explore what it would be like if an invasion actually happened. It's about what he goes through, his family, the girl he fancies and so on. I then decided to give it a little extra by having it told through social media. We're all using social media more and more so it felt a bit new and relevant. It also meant that, as the BOB device records your thoughts directly, I could keep telling the story from the main character's point of view - even when terrible things are happening. Plus, of course, there's some fun to be had comparing our reliance on social media and technology to what the Cybermen have done to themselves.

Q: Why do you think the Cybermen remain so popular after so many decades?

JL: I personally always found them scarier than the Daleks because they just seem so unstoppable. Most monsters are different to us. The Cybermen are better than us. They are us but stronger and faster. There's a real logic to what they did to themselves and to what they want to do to every living creature in the Universe.

Q: What’s been your favourite scene featuring the Cybermen since their return in 2006?

JL: It's got to be them fighting the Daleks in the Torchwood Institute in Doomsday. "This is not war. This is pest control."

Q: And delving back a little further, which of the early (pre-Rise of the Cybermen) stories is your favourite?

JL: My favourite has to be Silver Nemesis. It's my first real memory of the Cybermen. It's not the most popular story but I love it for just how entertaining it is. Lady Peinforte is a fantastic character and the Doctor and Ace are just absolutely lovely in it. It's funny and bonkers and still feels fresh and modern today.

Q: What was your favourite version of the Cybermen and why? And you’re not allowed to pick the current version!

JL: I think the original version with their cloth faces are still chilling, even today!

Q: Cybermats, Cybershades or Cybermites?

JL: Cybermats! I remember watching the video of Revenge of the Cybermen when I was younger and there's a moment when one jumps up and attacks Sarah Jane Smith and it's horrific!

Q: If you could give the Cybermen just one emotion, what would it be?

JL: Well, it wouldn't be anger! An angry Cyberman would be even more terrifying. Joy! A really happy Cyberman would be sweet.

Q: And finally, what advice would you give anyone who wants to become a writer?

JL: The most important piece of advice for anyone who wants to be a writer is that they should write! It sounds obvious but it's true. Write stories, plays, anything. I'd then suggest looking for local acting and writing groups so you can meet other writers. The BBC Writersroom website is also really helpful so do check that out.

Many thanks to Joseph Lidster!

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