The “ghost of Doctor Who” lives on in Welsh scriptwriter Russell T Davies ‘ new Shakespeare adaptation.
Speaking at Hay Festival on Sunday, Mr Davies – the man who resurrected Doctor Who – said the programme played a big part in his new adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which airs on Bank Holiday Monday.
The brand new adaptation, part of the BBC’s celebrations of the Bard’s 400th birthday, stars Maxine Peake, who appeared alongside Davies on stage as they spoke to the BBC’s Rebecca Jones.
The re-worked version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was made with BBC Wales and Davies said Wales was the “only place” he would have used to create the production.
He said: “I knew the Doctor Who studios were in Cardiff so I knew the design teams, the prosthetic teams and the CGI teams – they’re also my friends and I missed working with them. I used to work on Doctor Who and I loved it.
“It was brilliant and they’re all absolutely gorgeous company.
“It was also good timing because they’ve built these great studios in Cardiff that I’m really proud of – so it was the only place I would think of to make this production.”
During the session, the former Doctor Who show-runner also talked about how he called on the “greatest living Shakespeare expert” for help with the production – The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant.
“There was one bit of the script and there’s a key moment at the end where Bottom [one of the characters] has to say something so funny that something pivotal happens in the play and I didn’t have a clue what to do,” Davies explained.
“So David come out with this fantastic suggestion for what Pyramus in the play does.
“I know it hasn’t been on screen yet but there’s this very funny moment where Matt Lucas as Bottom comes out and it’s so funny – and that’s David Tennant’s idea.
Davies added: “So if you ever need ideas like that go to the best, go to the cleverest.”
Maxine Peake, who plays Titania – Queen of the fairies, also described working on the production as working at the “Doctor Who hit-making factory” – although the thought of CGI initially scared the English actress.
She said: “I did initially find the idea of CGI frightening. I’ve never done anything like it. I remember the first scene I done was a night shoot and it was a scene where lightening comes down and at first I was going ‘grrrr’ to things and there was nothing there.
“But then I started to really enjoy it. I’ve never done anything like that – it’s usually all the gritty drama. But it was really good to dip into something different and go – ah so this is how it all works when people do it.”
Davies and Peake were speaking on the fourth day of Hay Festival, which brings together Nobel Prize-winners, novelists, scientists, politicians, historians and musicians to talk with audiences in a dynamic exchange of ideas.
With over 600 events running until Sunday, June 5, the festival covers everything from literary landmarks – Shakespeare, Cervantes, Brontë and Dahl – to the EU referendum and US election.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be screened on BBC One on Monday, May 30, at 8.30pm and will be available in the UK on iPlayer after broadcast.