Drained started with the idea of using the Temple of Peace as a location for a story. This fantastic 1930s building has been seen several times in Doctor Who, most notably in the 2005 episode End of The World when it played the part of the luxury space station Platform One, and in 2011 when it was used as a restaurant in Nazi Berlin complete with swastika flags on the portico.
That struck me as a slightly insensitive way to use the building, since the Books of the Dead with lists of Cardiff men who fell in battle are kept in the basement below the main hall, but presumably the producers of Doctor Who discussed that with the owners of the Temple.
It is not, of course, a temple in the sense of a religious building. It was a gift from the prominent Cardiff politician and benefactor, Lord Davies to the city. As well as being used as a set for Doctor Who, it is hired out for an examination hall by colleges and the university. In 1998 it was used as a venue for the European Council’s Summit Meeting. It can also be used for wedding receptions and social functions of various sorts. A college ‘prom’ is quite a normal thing to happen there.
So the story opens with Jack and Garrett experiencing the nightmare all parents of teenagers have – when the teen is out late at his first party where alcohol and/or sex are likely to be on offer. I got some hate mail about this opening scene. Some people didn’t think that I should have portrayed Jack’s family life as so ‘normal’. By normal they mean heterosexual, of course. It outraged these people that Jack and Garrett have the same kind of family life that a ‘traditional married couple’ have. Well, tough, this IS the reality. Gay couples who are lucky enough to have children by adoption or surrogacy or by any other means live the same day to day life in their homes as anyone else. That is how I will portray Jack, Garrett, Gray and Ashley’s home life when it comes up in the storylines and I make no apology for it.
What follows is the discovery that all of Ashley’s college friends and their teachers are all in hospital in a comatose state. One girl is dead. Martha searches for a medical solution, Jack searches for an alien cause. This says a lot about both of them, of course. Martha is an excellent, compassionate doctor, Jack is a warrior ready to fight what has harmed his family.
Martha, of course, has diverged from the scenario Russell T. Davies set up for her in the end of the Tenth Doctor era. She isn’t married to Mickey Smith and working with him as an alien fighting duo. This is more like the role that had been planned for her before Freema got the role in Law and Order UK that meant she had to pull out of any long term part in Torchwood. I had already planned to bring Martha into my storylines before all that came about, and a lot of readers have said they like her in this scenario. Besides, I have occasionally mentioned that she has a boyfriend. That could perfectly well be Mickey Smith, after all.
The alien flesh creature hidden under the floor of the Temple of Peace DOES slightly resemble the creature with the long-winded name from The Long Game, except this one is much more of a predatory animal with a more rudimentary intelligence. The idea that an alien from Raxacorricofallipatorius was responsible for putting it there came to me at the last minute. And yes, I am aware that I never really explained WHY. That isn’t a plot hole. I felt the story was done at that point when Garrett asked how to deal with an alien of that sort. Interrogating it wasn’t really necessary.
There are a couple of points people have asked about in the scene where they fight the alien. First of all, Martha giving compression only CPR. I knew about this technique for a while, but the adverts showing how to do it came on TV around about when I was writing this story and it fitted nicely. Martha would definitely appreciate a way to revive Jack without the kissing bit.
The Dalek ray guns captured by the military in 1963 – well, you’ve all seen Remembrance of the Daleks, haven’t you?
I’m actually on slightly dodgy ground about whether lack of adrenaline in the body would cause the symptoms described. That’s a bit of pseudo-science. I was originally thinking of the creature draining the iron from the bodies of its victims, but that has been done before a few times. In particular, Magneto in the X-Men does that quite spectacularly. I decided to go for something different.
The little alien caretaker from the Pisces quadrant developed into more of a character than I intended. I might use him again some time.