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An Interview With Toby Whithouse

10th Sep 2011

The God Complex promises to be one of the creepiest stories of the year. A mysterious hotel, some terrifying monsters and a Minotaur... What's not to love? Arthur Darvill has already promised us a wonderfully scary adventure and so we caught up with the award-winning writer, Toby Whithouse (School Reunion, The Vampires of Venice), and quizzed him about his latest story: The God Complex.

Could you tell us a little about your episode, The God Complex?
Toby Whithouse: Initially this episode was intended for the previous series. I developed it from a one-line pitch from Steven: "The Doctor and Amy are stranded in a hotel, and the corridors and rooms keep shifting, so that they're completely lost".

As a kid I loved reading the Greek myths. It's a theme I've alluded to in previous things I've written. My first play was a modern day domestic tragedy that was inspired by the legends of the House of Atreus. So when we started discussing what monster might lurk at the heart of this maze, I immediately thought of the Minotaur - the monstrous half man half bull from the legend of Theseus. In that story, the Minotaur is presented with tributes - sacrifices - and again that was something I wanted to employ for this story.

As it was, we ended up bumping that episode to the next series... and instead I did Vampires of Venice.

Have you seen the finished episode yet? What did you think?
TW: I'm thrilled with it. It's my third Doctor Who and it's the one I love the most, by far. It's beautifully directed by Nick Hurran - a genuinely wonderful piece of work. He's imbued this bland domestic setting with genuine terror and creepiness. And the cast are brilliant without exception. It slightly reminds me of Sapphire and Steel - a bonkers sci-fi show from my youth that I loved.

It's your scariest one yet... Was it inspired by anything that's ever happened to you?
TW: I think the idea of being lost is a pretty general fear. It got me wondering whether that's what mazes - old mazes, like Hampton Court - were invented for. Nowadays we have roller-coasters and Doctor Who to scare us, but maybe, hundreds of years ago that's why people had mazes - to give themselves that exciting little tingle of terror, to tap into that innate fear and thrill of being lost.

What's next for you? Any chance you'll be working on Doctor Who again in the near future?
TW: Well, right now I'm up to my eyes in Being Human 4. That'll keep me busy until about November... after that? Well, let's just say... emails have been exchanged. Ideas have been discussed. Tea has been drank.

Massive thanks to Toby Whithouse who took time out of a very busy schedule to answer our questions. The God Complex is on Saturday, 7.10pm on BBC ONE and is followed by Doctor Who Confidential on BBC3.

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