Robert Shearman (also credited as Rob Shearman; born 10 February 1970 near London, England) is an English television, radio, stage play and short story writer. He is known for his work for Doctor Who, as well as his an ongoing association with Jarvis & Ayres Productions (Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres) which has resulted in six plays for BBC Radio 4, broadcast in the station's regular weekday Afternoon Play slot, and one classic serial.
Shearman was educated at Reigate Grammar School (where he was a contemporary of David Walliams) and University of Exeter. During this time, he was regularly seen on stage at the University in various productions.
An established theatrical playwright, Shearman has worked with Alan Ayckbourn, had a play produced by Francis Ford Coppola, and has received several international awards for his work in theatre. Award-winning plays include Fool to Yourself, which premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1997, and which won the inaugural Sophie Winter Memorial Trust Award, 'Easy Laughter', (Sunday Times Playwriting Award), 'Coupling', (World Drama Trust Award), 'Binary Dreamers', (Guinness Award for Theatre Ingenuity, in association with the Royal National Theatre). In 1993 he was made resident dramatist at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter, the youngest playwright to be honoured by the Arts Council in this way, and for them he wrote a series of plays, including his controversial comic fable about God living in suburbia, 'Breaking Bread Together', which later was revived in London. His association with his mentor, Alan Ayckbourn, has been particularly fruitful, with 'White Lies', 'About Colin', and 'Knights in Plastic Armour' proving especially popular.
At this time Shearman was also encouraged to become a director for the theatre, largely reviving productions of his work abroad; in the 1990s he had a recurring engagement with the Teatro Agora in Rome, and, in 2007, the revival he directed of his comedy 'Shaw Cornered', was the stand-out hit as international guest at the Old World Theatre Festival in Delhi.
His association with Doctor Who began with a play written for BBV Audios, Punchline, in which Sylvester McCoy played the Dominie, a disguised version of the Seventh Doctor. This was penned under the pseudonym "Jeremy Leadbetter" (the name of a character from the popular BBC sitcom The Good Life). Several audio plays for Big Finish followed, The Holy Terror, The Chimes of Midnight and Jubilee all winning best audio drama in the Doctor Who Magazine polls of their respective years. He has also had Doctor Who short stories published - his most recent being a chapter in the BBC Books novel 'The Story of Martha', which was released in December 2008.
Shearman wrote the television episode "Dalek" for the 2005 series of Doctor Who produced by Russell T Davies for the BBC. This was, at Davies' request, a re-working of the themes introduced by Shearman's earlier Big Finish audio play Jubilee. "Dalek" was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in 2006, and came in second in terms of votes for its category. Shearman provided an audio commentary for the episode on the Doctor Who – Complete First Series DVD boxset.
Other television work
Shearman also provided the initial script for the second series of the BBC 7 programme The Chain Gang: Picture This. The series was awarded a Bronze in the Sony Radio Academy Awards' "The Competition Award" category. A further series of The Chain Gang, this time called Paper, Scissors, Stone, was a thirteen part drama series, in which Shearman worked weekly from listeners' suggestions in shaping the story; this won a Silver at the Sony Radio Awards.
His first book, a collection of short stories called Tiny Deaths, was published by Comma Press in November 2007. It was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize and made the longlist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. In November 2008, it was named Best Collection at the annual World Fantasy Awards. In 2009, one of the stories from the book, 'No Looking Back', was selected by the National Library of Singapore for the Read! Singapore campaign, ensuring the story was published separately as a mini-book and distributed all over the country in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil; the author was flown over to Singapore to give talks and interviews.
His second collection, Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, was published in late 2009. An odder, darker book than the first, it won the British Fantasy Award, the Edge Hill Short Story Reader's Prize - making Shearman the first writer ever to be nominated twice for this award - and the Shirley Jackson Award. A special collector's edition contained 'The Hidden Story'; a tale about letters found within books, each copy was handwritten by the author, and contained in envelopes within envelopes in a Russian doll effect.
In the same year, Mad Norwegian Press published Wanting to Believe, a book by Shearman that examines The X-Files and its spin-off series (Millennium and The Lone Gunmen) in a critical fashion. Also in 2009, Shearman collaborated with comedian Toby Hadoke to watch and comment on every episode of Doctor Who from the programme's debut in 1963 to David Tennant's final story. The resulting discussions are being published by Mad Norwegian Press in three volumes as Running Through Corridors: Rob and Toby's Marathon Watch of Doctor Who. The first volume, covering the 1960s, was published in 2010; the second volume, covering the 1970s, is forthcoming.
In 2010, Big Finish published seven of his better known stage plays as Caustic Comedies.
His third collection, "half short stories, half novel", is to be published in June 2011, called Everyone's Just So So Special.
Shearman describes himself as a comedy writer, but it might be truer to call him an absurdist; most of his work, whatever the medium it is written for, is concerned with the effect on ordinary people when they're propelled into extraordinary or fantastical situations. His controversial early play, 'Easy Laughter', purports to be a Christmas domestic comedy, but eventually reveals itself to be set in a world where the season celebrates not only the birth of Jesus but the successful murder of the Jewish race. His WFA nominated short story, 'Damned if You Don't', is at once a story about disillusioned marriage, but also about a man who falls in love with the talking ghost of Hitler's childhood pet dog.
- "About Colin" (2 February 2000)
- "Inappropriate Behaviour" (17 August 2002)
- "Afternoons with Roger" (11 June 2003)
- "Forever Mine" (14 June 2004)
- "Teacher's Pet" (28 June 2005)
- "Towards the End of the Morning" (4 & 11 September 2005)
- "Odd" (19 April 2006)
Selected theatre works
- Dented Crowns (1991)
- Couplings (1991)
- Easy Laughter (1992)*
- Breaking Bread Together (1993)
- The Mayor of Casterbridge (adapted from Hardy) (1993)
- The Magical Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1993)
- White Lies (1994)*
- Great Expectations (adapted from Dickens) (1994)
- Fool to Yourself (1995)*
- Binary Dreamers (1996)*
- Mercy Killings (1997)
- About Colin (1998)
- Desperate Remedies (adapted from Hardy) (1998)
- Jekyll and Hyde (adapted from Stevenson) (1998)
- Knights in Plastic Armour (1999)*
- Inappropriate Behaviour (2000)*
- Pride and Prejudice (adapted from Austen) (2000)
- Shaw Cornered (2001)*
- Published in Caustic Comedies.
- Tiny Deaths (2007)
- Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (2009)
- Everyone's Just So So Special (2011)
- Remember Why You Fear Me (ChiZine Publications, 2012)
- They Do the Same Things different There (2014)
Doctor Who plays for Big Finish Productions
- The Holy Terror (Sixth Doctor, Frobisher; November 2000)
- The Chimes of Midnight (Eighth Doctor, Charley; February 2002)
- The Maltese Penguin (Sixth Doctor, Frobisher; June 2002)
- Jubilee (Sixth Doctor, Evelyn Smythe; January 2003)
- Deadline (Doctor Who Unbound, featuring Sir Derek Jacobi; September 2003)
- Scherzo (Eighth Doctor, Charley; December 2003)
- My Own Private Wolfgang (Sixth Doctor, Evelyn Smythe; September 2007)
- Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen (2009)
- Running Through Corridors: Rob and Toby's Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Volume 1: The 60s) (with Toby Hadoke) (2010)
- "Winners 2008: The Competition Award". Sony Radio Academy Awards. Zafer Associates. Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- "Literature Prize Shortlist Announced". Edge Hill University. 2008-05-22. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- Irvine, Lindesay (6 May 2008). "Self-published author takes competition to bestseller rivals". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- Popperwell, Katie (4 November 2008). "Comma Press scoops fantasy award". CityLife (M.E.N. media). Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- "Running Through Corridors: Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Vol. 1: The 60s)". Mad Norwegian Press. Retrieved 10 March 2011.