As the originating writer of Wentworth, Pete McTighe never imagined he would be able to fulfill a childhood dream of joining the creative team on the BBC’s Doctor Who.
So he was shocked when he got an email from Chris Chibnall, the showrunner on the iconic show’s 11th season, who was aware of his work which includes episodes of Glitch, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Winners & Losers and Nowhere Boys.
A few days later they chatted on Skype. The result: “Suddenly I found myself plonked right at the heart of Doctor Who, in the engine room,” the UK-born McTighe tells IF.
“It’s not like I didn’t work for it – I’d sacrificed a lot and focused a great deal of time and energy over many years to get to the stage where I could even be in the frame for a job this massive – but it was still a shock to find myself standing in the Tardis.”
The hardcore Doctor Who fan wrote one episode which was directed by Aussie Jennifer Perrott, who had long wanted to work with him on Wentworth but was never asked.
Like Perrott, McTighe says the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the first female doctor in the show’s 54-year history was never mentioned. “Gender is irrelevant; she’s just the Doctor,” he says.
On his first visit to the Cardiff studios with the other new writers, Chibnall escorted them to the set of Peter Capaldi’s Tardis set. As they stood by the police box doors the showrunner invited McTighe to go inn first and spend a few minutes by himself, which he regards as one of the greatest moments of his life.
More great moments followed, culminating months later when they gathered for the unveiling of the new Tardis set, prompting, he says, “more goose bumps and tears.”
McTighe bought a house in Cardiff so he has often visited the set. He was there for Whittaker’s first day. “From her very first shot she just nailed it – she was the Doctor. All the regulars are brilliant. She’s such an incredible presence on set; she makes everyone feel so welcome and is a delight to watch.” he says.
When he started working on Wentworth in 2011 together with Marcia Gardner and John Ridley, he thought they would be lucky if the FremantleMedia/Foxtel show lasted three years. Foxtel is yet to screen season 7, for which McTighe wrote three episodes including the finale.
He says: “Season 7 is my favourite so far. There are some spectacular episodes and, as usual, incredible performances and brilliant direction. It’s such a gift to write for that ensemble. For it to be popular around the world is just mind blowing. That’s a credit to Foxtel and everyone working on it. I’m really proud of it.”
After working with Perrott he looks forward to collaborating with her again on several projects they are developing together when time permits. Among the other projects he is juggling is a show with the help of one of his heroes, distinguished Welsh screenwriter/producer Russell T. Davies, who was responsible for the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who.
“I’m incredibly lucky and grateful to be doing what I’m doing.” he concludes. “I do have one last unfulfilled childhood dream, and that’s working on Star Wars. Maybe one day.”