Joe Hill recounts savage Doctor Who rejection from BBC

The Locke & Key writer and Doctor Who geek was absolutely equalised by the Beeb, even with Neil Gaiman's help

Joe Hill reading Moby Dick upside down

As new horror binge Locke & Key finally lands on Netflix after a long, hard road to the small screen, Joe Hill – who wrote the comics that the new series is based on – has been in a fresh round of interviews to promote its arrival on the streaming service.

Scribe Hill, originally born Joseph Hillström King and the son of legendary author Stephen King, remains a busy dude, and has already seen two other notable adaptations of his work come to TV recently in the form of Zachary Quinto-led series NOS4A2 and horror flick In The Tall Grass, also at Netflix.

Finding time to stop by Brian Keene’s podcast The Horror Show to discuss his ongoing passions, though, Hill was drawn into a discussion about Doctor Who (via Bleeding Cool). To say he’s a big fan of the long-running BBC show is an understatement, but he revealed that he’d once suffered a rather brutal humilation at the hands of the BBC after deciding he’d like to achieve his personal dream of writing at least one episode of it.

Here’s how Hill’s Doctor Who pitch experience went down:

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BRIAN KEENE: “So…next twenty years. What’s one thing you guys haven’t tackled yet, that you want to tackle? I’m tackling mine right now. I’m writing a straight western with no supernatural trappings whatsoever. What’s the one thing you haven’t had an opportunity to do yet that you want to try?”

JOE HILL: “I’ll tell you the one thing that I’ve been wanting to do that I’ll never get a chance to do. So, you know I’m a big Doctor Who geek, right?”

KEENE: “Right.”

HILL: “This is a true story.”

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: “Okay.”

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HILL: “So…I’m a huge Doctor Who geek. Watching Doctor Who…watching the David Tennant Doctor Who with my boys was a really happy part of their childhood, and of me being a dad. And I had some ideas for Doctor Who, and I really wanted to write for that show. And my screen agent got me a chance to pitch on it. So, i spent a month and a half working on three pitches, and man, I have never imagined harder in my whole life. I mean, I just worked so hard on these things. And by chance, I actually wound up spending a weekend with Neil Gaiman. We were in the same place at the same time, and hanging out a lot, and he actually edited my pitches. He actually went through the pitches and was like, ‘Yes do this. Don’t do that. This is a good idea. Hate this idea.’ You know? And I’m like, you couldn’t ask for a better editor!”

GOLDEN: “Of course!”

HILL: “And so I, you know, with trepidation and my heart in my mouth, I sent in my pitches, and a couple weeks passed, and I got…the email I got back said, ‘We have never let an American write Doctor Who, and if we were going to, we wouldn’t start with you.”

KEENE: “Oh my god!

GOLDEN: “Oh come on! Are you fucking kidding me?”

KEENE: “Oh my god!”

(Hill and Keene burst into laughter)

HILL: “Is that not the most smoking rejection of all time?”

KEENE: “Jesus…”

HILL: “I remain in awe. I remain in awe. It’s still my favourite rejection.”

Holy Gallifroly. Surely, Hill got the best possible run-up to the prize in that scenario? And still ended up fully Wile E. Coyote-ing it. Incredible scenes.