WHEN Vinay Patel was growing up in south-east London, he was obsessed with science fiction. Recalling sitting on the edge of his dad’s bed as a child, he would watch Star Trek and became enthralled in a world of space exploration, extra-terrestrial life and time travel.
Ironic, that in adult life, Patel would be appointed a writing role in one of the worlds’ best loved science fiction shows Doctor Who.
His award-winning episode Demons of the Punjab saw the Doctor’s companion Yasmin ‘Yaz’ Khan (played by British Asian actress Mandip Gill) travel back in time to visit her grandmother during her youth in the partition of India.
Released last November, the episode was praised for its “moving” take on the tragic events during Partition. It brought a story which, arguably, was lesser known to mainstream audiences in the UK.
Admitting that writing the script was one of the most difficult things he had ever done in his life, Patel said he aimed to produce a story which focused on the lives of everyday people who had experienced Partition. It wasn’t something he had ever seen before.
“I wanted to have a story about the people who didn’t want (Partition) to be part of the lives but it was and so I wanted to explore how they dealt with that,” he told GG2’s Power List. “I wanted to focus on the everyday people whose stories weren’t told in this country.”
Revealing he went through 15 different drafts for the story before “we arrived at the one that felt best”, the Londoner was one of the first writers of colour on the show for over 50 years.
His Asian heritage is seemingly a running theme throughout his work. An Adventure, his most recent play which premiered at the Bush Theatre last September,