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The who, what and why of the Doctor
by Nick Walters
19 February 2003 2015 GMT

Bristol Doctor Who author Nick Walters's guide to the Doctor - past, present and future and his new book: Reckless Engineering.
Nick has had four of his Doctor Who novels published
Read about Reckless Engineering, and then browse Nick's guide to Doctor Who.
> Introduction
> Guide part 1
> Guide part 2
> Guide part 3
> Guide part 4
> Guide part 5
:: This story
> Internet links:

The BBC's official Doctor Who site

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites

Why Bristol?

Ever since I stared writing, it was my intention to write a story set in Bristol.

Not just because it’s the city in which I happen to live, but because it has got a fascinating and colourful history, and, of course, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, greatest Briton (whatever the polls say).

Researching the character, I realised that he would be the perfect foil for the Doctor.

A workaholic who never took fools gladly, Brunel was a driven man, whose engineering genius was complemented with his eye for beautiful design – one look at the Suspension Bridge is enough to convince you of this.

View of Totterdown
Nick's neighbourhood of Totterdown features in the book.

But he was never the best man to work for, and he dedicated himself to his work at the expense of his health, and his life.

An arrogant, irascible, driven, genius... it struck me that this man could almost be the Doctor.

And so a story in which the Doctor teams up with Isambard Kingdom Brunel to save the world (or as it turned out, reality itself) seemed to me a great, fun idea that would make a great story.

This could be Totterdown or anywhere

I live in Totterdown, south of the river, with amazing views over Bristol.

The name ‘Totterdown’ is derived from the Old English 'totem' which means ‘view’, so Totterdown literally means ‘look out on the down’.

Lower Totterdown was also once called Aldburiham, which roughly translates as: ald = old, buri = hill fort, ham = home.

Walking around Totterdown it is easy to imagine that the place could have once been a hill fort, and it was this that gave me the idea of setting the story in an alternative present day.

I envisaged a place where the Industrial Revolution never happened and the inhabitants of Bristol live in walled forts defending themselves from bands of outlaws – and worse.

Suspension bridge
Brunel's SS Great Britain is among the Bristol places mentioned

Bristol bits

As the story developed, I decided to include as many famous Bristol locations as reasonably possible given the plot.

I managed to fit in the Suspension Bridge, Queen Square, Ashton Court and its Mansion House, the Floating Harbour, the Downs and the ss Great Britain.

It's not mentioned by name but the Llandoger Trow is also in there. The pub has a previous literary claim to fame - Robert Louis Stevenson stayed there to imbibe atmosphere for Treasure Island.

Bit of a ‘tourist’s greatest hits’, I admit, but the majority of the people reading the book won’t ever have been to Bristol (the books have worldwide distribution) so I wanted to include the most recognisable landmarks.

Who knows, my book might even make people want to come to Bristol and check it out for themselves...

>> Continue Nick's Doctor Who guide

I realised that Brunel would be the perfect foil for the Doctor.
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