Shipwrecked was inspired by one of the comic strip stories in Doctor Who Adventures, the kids Doctor Who magazine that I buy for the wonderful free gifts. In this strip, the TARDIS is washed downstream in a freak tidal wave on a river and The Doctor mentions how they have failed to tick off all but one of the boxes in the Time Lord Survival Handbook. They had no food, medicine, shelter, but they did have a good positive attitude.

I liked that as the starting point to a story in which they would be stranded somewhere without the TARDIS and really have to test that good positive attitude. Stranded on a desert island seemed a good one. There is, of course, a lot of literature about such ideas. Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is the best known, closely followed by RM Ballantyne’s Coral Island. And both of them are trounced by William Golding’s Lord of The Flies, which tells a possibly more realistic story of how civilised people behave when they lose their civilisation.

This story is probably closest of all to Coral Island. In particular, the way providence solves most of the problems of food and shelter for them with the arrival of some useful barrels from the shipwrecked boat. Yes, that’s a total cop-out. They had no food and no shelter and lo, they have salt pork and a nice big bit of sailcloth. But I have to tell this story in around 5,000 words. I need a couple of shortcuts. In any case, the story isn’t so much a survival manual as an examination of how The Doctor and Donna would get on together if left to their own devices.

Actually, the way she was portrayed on TV, she would probably have given The Doctor merry hell, demanding that he get her off the island. But the version of her in these stories is just a little less belligerent. I suppose, in a way, that’s a writing flaw. I’m maybe not quite getting her full on confrontation style. But I think that needs toning down a bit, anyway. It’s a bit too much like one of Catherine Tate’s comic characters.

Anyway, breadfruit, quinine bark and plenty of salt pork sustains their bodies. Their good positive attitude sustains their minds. At least until The Doctor gets sick. That was always going to be the turning point. The Doctor bitten by something nasty in the undergrowth, having to do desperate things to survive, and then a nice, sweet, purely platonic, intimate time when Donna has to snuggle down in the camp bed and look after him overnight. Until then, he has looked after her. But this is her chance to return the favour and take care of him.

The TARDIS was always going to get washed up on the shore. It was as I was writing the bit about The Doctor’s delirious dreams of old friends and lovers, that I thought about him waking thinking about the TARDIS and convinced it was back, and Donna thinking it was just part of his illness. It made for a bit of tension in the story which, admittedly, didn’t have any until that point. This was not going to be an all action story.

The Doctor and his TARDIS are reunited, and all is well. Of course, it is. Doctor Who is hardly a series that has dark twisting endings anyway. And I’m not about to be writing dark twisting endings!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinson_Crusoe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Coral_Island
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_flies