Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Fantasy author Neil Gaiman writes ‘Doctor Who’ episode


The idea of creating a memorable monster for 'Doctor Who' lured Neil Gaiman to the television series.


When Doctor Who calls, Neil Gaiman listens.

At least, when producer Steven Moffat calls with an irresistible bait.

Gaiman, noted author of such fantasy books as Coraline, American Gods, and Stardust, is the screenwriter for the episode Nightmare in Silver, showing Saturday on BBC America. It should be available on iTunes shortly after that.

It wasn’t a sure thing. The very busy Gaiman turned Moffat down the first time he asked.

Then Moffat dangled the opportunity to write about the Cybermen — to “make them scary again,” said Gaiman in a conference call Wednesday.

In Nightmare, the upgraded 21st century Cybermen provide suitable villains in a tale that includes a unique chess match, a ruined amusement park, outnumbered sub-standard soldiers, and finally a big bang.

Lace it with a mouthy teen, her younger brother, a bittersweet hero, and many flight scenes, and Nightmare is likely to be well received by Doctor Who fans.

The classic British television series is celebrating its 50th anniversary in November. It centers on an alien, Doctor Who, who travels through time and space in a TARDIS (spaceship) having adventures. There have been 11 “Doctors,” one for each of the actors who have taken over the part, who have faced a huge number of lethal foes (including Daleks, Weeping Angels, and the warrior Sontarans).

Gaiman started watching Doctor Who at the age of 3. At 5, he persuaded his father to buy the Dalek World Annual at Victoria Station, and learned, among other fun (fictional) facts, that measles were a Dalek disease.

“It was the first mythology that I learned before I ran into Greek or Roman or Egyptian mythologies,” Gaiman said. “I knew that TARDIS stood for Time and Relative Dimension in Space. I knew that the TARDIS had a food machine that made things that looked like Mars Bars but tasted like bacon and eggs.”

Gaiman would like to leave his mark on the mythos by creating his own iconic Doctor Who monster that could be written by others going forward. He’d like to feel that he “left something behind.”

His choice for favorite Doctor was set between the ages of 6 to 9: Patrick Troughton, the second actor to play the character.

“He was quirky, small, funny slightly on the edge. Everybody always underestimated him because he seemed to be a little bit goofy,” Gaiman said, “while the things he went up against were huge and terrifying, and he’d win somehow.

“He was the Doctor that I would have wanted to go off in the TARDIS with … I loved the feeling back then, that events had consequences and that some of those consequences were going to be lethal.”

Shakira dishes on her baby boy

Colombian superstar Shakira is learning how to balance her demanding work schedule with being a new mom one day at a time.

“It’s part of motherhood you know,” she said of juggling personal and professional life. “You got to figure it out as you go.”

The 36-year-old singer and her soccer star boyfriend Gerard Pique welcomed their first child, Milan Pique Mebarak, on Jan. 22.

“He’s great. He’s so mellow, but he’s very alert too,” she said Wednesday night at House of Blues in West Hollywood, Calif. “It’s like he knows what’s going on around him. He knows when someone comes in the room or comes out. He’s something.”

Shakira joined fellow The Voice coaches, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Usher at a red carpet event celebrating the NBC signing competition’s top 12 finalists.

The Voice host Carson Daly says baby Milan has been a welcome addition to the kid friendly set, which features regular visits from Daly’s young brood, Usher’s children, and Levine’s nephews.

“With Milan it’s a full blown nursery,” Daly said of Shakira’s baby proofed double-wide trailer. “It’s just like Shakira’s door opens and ‘It’s a Small World’ starts playing. It’s built for Milan. And it’s really special and it’s cool. We’re like a little family.”

Lauryn Hill headed to prison for tax evasion

A U.S. magistrate judge sentenced Grammy-winning hip hop artist Lauryn Hill to three months in prison, three months in home confinement, and a $60,000 fine on Monday for federal tax evasion.

Hill pleaded guilty last year to three counts of failing to file tax returns on more than $1.8 million of income between 2005 and 2007 and faced up to three years in prison.

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