We caught up with Hayden recently to find out more about Behind the Sofa and 2013 Mashed
Let’s start by talking about Behind the Sofa.. Were you involved in the project from the start?
Steve Berry, the editor, reached out to me via Facebook – a place I do a startling amount of business – and asked me to write a piece back in 2010. I was honoured and flattered and said yes immediately. I sent him the piece then forgot about it. When I saw the book coming out, and its long list of amazing contributors, I assumed in my typical neurotic manner that I’d been pushed aside for some of these much bigger names. My neuroses are my least favorite part of me and yet they make up about 98%.
Did you have a word limit or any restrictions on what you could write about?
I think he told me to keep it to a couple of pages. But the subject area was rather wide – anything to do with Dr. Who and how it had touched me personally. I decided to forgo the story about blu-tac’ing some polystyrene packaging to my bedroom wall and pretending it was a TARDIS console, as there wasn’t much more to it than that. Or racing through the Dr Who Exhibition in Blackpool just so I could get to the shop at the end. I was a sad 11 year-old boy. But some 11 year-olds wind up making comedy when they grow up.
Which is your favourite story from the book?
Oh, easily mine. It was so well-written and I was hanging on every word – that boy has a bright future ahead of him. But to be honest, there’s so many great ones that it seems churlish to pick just one. Go out and buy the book and decide for yourself – it’s for charity after all.
Would you like to write for Doctor Who?
In a heartbeat! Or two heartbeats (see what I did there?). I loves me Who and after years of having to pretend I didn’t, I can now wear my geek on my sleeve. I have a couple of ideas I’d like to explore. The way I look at it is that there’s plenty of life left in the show and there’s plenty of life left in me so at some point, things could converge.
Who is your favourite Doctor?
Tom Baker. Hands down. But I’ve really liked David Tennant and Matt Smith’s interpretations – and for that matter, Chris Eccleston’s. And I’m looking forward to Peter Capaldi coming on board. I didn’t much care for 80’s Who. It was so overlit and when you’re doing a sci-fi series for tuppence ha’penny, the last thing you want to do is highlight how bad your effects/sets are. Oh, don’t get me started on 80’s Who… *shudder*…
Who is your favourite companion?
Hmm. Sarah Jane-Smith is probably my all-time fave. The woman was more a Time-Lord than half the actors to play the Doctor! She never bloody aged! As a nipper, I cried when she left Dr Who and then I cried all over again when she left the world. I think of the modern companions, Catherine Tate brought a great presence – capable of switching between funny or dramatic at the drop of a hat.
What are your favourite monsters?
Well, up until the 50th, the Zygons were up there. What did they do to them??? They don’t look anywhere near as creepy/scary as they once did and that whole non-story? Don’t get me started. I loved the Weeping Angels the first time around. And the Silence look frightening. I could have done without the Slitheen. Farting aliens isn’t really Who. And that crayola mess from the “Fear Her” story – that was just this side of useless too. And who designed that Peter Kay costume?!!? A bloody Blue Peter contest winner?!?!? Oh. Right.
Now onto something different: How did you get involved in 2013 Mashed? Was it anything to do with Rich Fulcher?
It didn’t have anything to do with Rich, who tried his best to have me thrown off the show (joking!), but it had a lot to do with Goodnight Burbank. Basically, back in 2010 Paul Cope (who’s one of the producers of the show) was one of the crew that shot John Barrowman for me in London, and it went from there. Paul is also one of the writer/producers of the feckingly brilliant web series Future Duck. Basically, I just make friends with very talented people and cross my fingers.
Why is the sketch animated?
They’re doing loads of animated sketches and that’s just their choice. I have no idea why but the comps I’ve seen are delightful, so I think it’s clearly a great idea.
Were you asked to write about Justin Bieber specifically or could you cover any subject you wanted to?
I looked at the headlines they wanted to cover and pitched a few ideas. The Bieber idea occurred to me in a flash: would Anne Frank have been a belieber? There’s only one way to find out. Time machine!!! I threw out some other ideas; Nick Clegg calling Angela Merkel and reading his resume to her in the hope that someone at GSHQ/NSA is listening, because he’s feeling very unloved. Lady Gaga re-upping her contract with the Devil – who, after listening to her new album, is now unsure he wants her in Hell. And a sketch about a Godzilla-type monster who rises from the depths of Fukushima who just wants to be loved so he dons a tiny Hello Kitty beret and backpack and covers his mouth with a tentacle and giggles.
How long did the sketch take to write/animate?
I write fairly quickly, so the one and a half page sketch was written in about 15 minutes. No idea about the animation turnaround, as I’m not involved with that aspect. Mashed turned it over to one of their excellent animators and it’s in their safe hands now.
Have you seen the finished sketch and/or the show?
I saw last year’s show but haven’t seen anything from this year’s. I’ll watch it along with everybody else on (or around) December 30th, when it’s scheduled to air on Channel 4.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m working on a few things. The most immediate is a half-hour pilot based on the Disinformation website/brand (www.disinfo.com), called, simply enough, Disinformation. It deals with news and views from the shadows – conspiracies, aliens, ghosts, weird science, etc. It’s a reality-based project, my first I think, and I’m hosting/writing/producing it. We shoot in a fancy new studio with glass walls in Hollywood and we’re bringing news, interviews and interesting location shoots. I’m trying to inject a little humour into it so we can expand the audience. For the pilot, we have Hal Sparks and Rick Overton, who I approached backstage after a show they did. I say backstage – it was a tiny alleyway behind the theatre. But they loved the idea and signed on immediately.
When will that be ready to be seen? Is it for web or TV or something else?
We’ve been shooting segments, and then shoot the full show on December 20th. And then EVERYONE disappears for the Crimble hols, so it will just sit there until January when everyone returns, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to edit it together and then show it to potential sponsors. It’s intended for the web to begin with, but we always have an eye on TV.
I’m doing some VO work – I just voiced a character for a video game that’s in its early stages. And I’m working with a sitcom pilot I’ve written that some lovely actors have expressed interest in. We do a table read in early January then at some point from there, it goes to an agent and then out to the people who need to hear about it. There’s also a small role in it for myself, so I’ll be a part of it from both sides of the camera. I play Morrissey’s cousin. I’ve already said too much. I have to run.
Many thanks to Hayden for his time answering our questions.
And don’t forget that you can get your copy of Behind the Sofa – Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who from The Velvet Onion Store.