Harvey and Jessica meet Russell T Davies

Two of our undergraduate students Harvey Wingrave-Rix and Jessica Cooper attended a Russell T Davies masterclass recently to learn more about the television industry. Harvey explains all…

I’ve always wanted to meet Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies and so when Jessica mentioned that he was in Cardiff doing a talk for students, I had to be there. Obviously, I love him because of his work on Doctor Who, but I’ve really enjoyed his other work too, especially It’s a Sin, which made my mum cry!

Doctor Who has had a massive impact on my life. One of my first memories was watching the episode titled ‘Planet of the Ood’ in my kitchen. Doctor Who has been with me my whole life and has got me through thick and thin, so to meet the man who brought it back and wrote the stories that I loved meant so much.

Davies participated in the session for NFTS Cymru Wales, talking about his career as a writer and the creative process. He was interviewed by the head of NFTS Cymru Wales Judith Winnan, who is a successful executive producer in her own right, known for making award winning documentaries like BBC Two series The Private Life of a Masterpiece.

BAFTA award winner Davies was born in Swansea in 1963. He’s known for writing dramas such as Years and Years, Queer as Folk, A Very English Scandal and Cucumber. In 2021, he wrote the acclaimed It’s a Sin which won several awards including Best Writer at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards. More recently, he won Best Writer at the BAFTA Cymru Awards for his most recent series Nolly, featuring Helena Bonham Carter.

Davies revived Doctor Who back in 2005. It has been hugely successful, with the episode ‘Voyage of the Damned’ starring David Tennant and Kylie Minogue for example, pulling in over 13 million viewers on Christmas Day back in 2007.  He won a BAFTA for Best Drama Series in 2006, for Best Screenwriter at the BAFTA Cymru Awards in 2009 for the episode entitled ‘Midnight’.

He left Doctor Who back in 2010, but announced he was retuning in 2021 to write the 60th anniversary specials and series beyond. The 60th anniversary specials aired in late November 2023, and the 3 episodes attracted a total of 24 million viewers. His first full series of Doctor Who since 2008 is set to return in May this year, starring Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor.

Throughout, he explained a number of times how important the story always is, and how everything else comes afterwards. “Those three beats, beginning, middle and end are inside every story” he explained – “so rely on it, use it.’

Referring to the series’ “Welshness”, he noted that “we still haven’t had a Welsh Doctor yet” but this is something he’d “love to have”. He said that he’d based Torchwood in Cardiff, as he was fed up of pretending Cardiff was either London, or Mars!

Jessica had a wonderful time, too. “The masterclass with Russell T Davies was such a brilliant experience” she said, adding that “having the opportunity to listen to him talk about his work and creative process was incredibly interesting, I definitely gained some valuable insight and knowledge of life in the film and tv industry.”