A new and original audio drama about the final years of famed Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner, and his partner Gary Downie, is available for pre-order from AUK Studios
Me & Him & Who, set to be released in early December 2022 as a limited CD edition, explores the relationship between Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner and his partner Gary Downie. It’s a poignant but witty tale of a proper love/hate relationship as Nathan-Turner struggles with addition, and Downie battles cancer. A digital version will be available mid-2023.
John Nathan-Turner was the youngest producer of Doctor Who. Or was he? As he, himself, said, ‘Never let the facts get in the way of a good story’. Having worked bis way up the Doctor Who career ladder since 1969, he took over as producer ten years later. Over the next decade he would put his highly stylised mark on it on every aspect of the show.
However, he became so synonymous with Doctor Who that he delayed moving on until it was too late. When the BBC cancelled the show in 1989, he was in the wilderness, struggling to channel his flamboyance into anything else. Meanwhile the nasty side of the fan base turning against him and his decade-long tenure on the series.
The play features all the bickering and love of JNT and Downie’s intense relationship
Me & Him & Who is set towards the end of his life, as John tries to write his autobiography. But something always gets in the way, whether Downie’s cancer, his own drink-related illness, or just a reluctance to bite the BBC hand that once fed him. His relationship with friends becomes toxic. Gary’s wicked turn of phrase and no holds barred approach to saying what he thinks. We find them, both supporting each other and belittling each other in what appeared to be a love/hate relationship but was in fact an enduring and endearing romance.
In a sometimes bleakly comic tale, this two-man support network crumbles and rises from the ashes, with the desire always to be back in the limelight and put on a show. Any show. But the show we hear is the backstage gossip of a fading producer who’s still looking for his final Norma Desmond-esque closeup.
Former Doctor Who scriptwriter Stephen Wyatt has recreated the men he knew in a bleakly comic script
Me & Him & Who is written by Doctor Who scriptwriter Stephen Wyatt (The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Paradise Towers). “My mum and dad lived close to John and Gary in Saltdean,” he explains, “I used to drop in on them for tea and cake (latterly vodka and orange) and so in the bleak period after John left the BBC, I got to know them quite well. Me & Him & Who has a sad story of illness and decline to tell but I’ve tried to do justice also to John and Gary’s wit and resilience as well as the deep affection they had for each other behind the squabbling and the bitchery.”
Aside from knowing John and Gary personally, Stephen made good use of Richard Marson’s biography of John Nathan-Turner, Totally Tasteless. Marson says of the dramatisation, “Stephen has caught the poignancy of John and Gary’s later years without losing the humour. Great performances too. It seems to capture much of their humanity (as well as the egos and occasional hubris) and set it all against the context of the Who history we all know.”
Christopher Guard plays the famed Doctor Who producer in Me & Him & Who
Christopher Guard (Bellboy, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy) plays John Nathan-Turner.
“Playing John Nathan-Turner was the latest beautiful twist in my surreal relationship with John and Doctor Who,” says Guard. “‘Becoming’ him was at once almost impossible and yet somehow inevitable. In some ways I had nothing in common with John, yet I always felt I understood him. Like me, he had a rebel soul. If someone said you can’t, he invariably would. Feisty, fabulous, fearless JNT. It’s been a privilege inhabiting his wild, wilful, wondrous world.”
Barnaby Eaton-Jones, who pulls triple duty as producer, director, and script editor, explains why this story needed to be told. “To tell the story of the last few years of John Nathan-Turner’s life,” he says, “when he didn’t seem to be able to catch a break (and his partnership with Gary Downie appeared to have alienated a lot of his friends), was too delicious a drama not to delve into.
“Although it is obviously bittersweet, in that JNT, as he was known, didn’t get the reappraisal and love that he deserved for his time steering Doctor Who’s TARDIS, there’s also that sense of hope that he always had that his next big project was just around the corner. The occasionally toxic mix of Gary’s waspish views and JNT’s robust rebuttals is played out against the backdrop of a deep need for each other’s support and love, as well as their desire to be the life and soul of each other’s party. Until the drink runs out and the lights get turned off.”
Me & Him & Who
John Nathan-Turner presided over three distinct eras of classic Doctor Who, as the producer incarnate.
But his ability to juggle budgets, actors, and egos brought about his perceived downfall as he struggled to channel his talents after the BBC cancelled the show in 1989. With his partner, Gary, unwell with cancer, and his own health sliding downhill due to drink, this is the story of the final three acts of John Nathan-Turner’s life as he attempts to write a ‘tell-all’ autobiography of his time on the show that came to define him.
Written by Stephen Wyatt, who knew them both, and performed with relish by Christopher Guard and Peter Noble, this is a waspish and witty tragedy of two men who loved and alienated so many, including each other.
Pre-order here: https://auk.direct/product/me-him-who/