I f it wasn't for Doctor Who, Oxfordshire scriptwriter and novelist Paul Cornell reckons that he would be unmarried, jobless and penniless. Paul, 39, has a string of high-profile television writing credits to his name including Robin Hood, Casualty, Holby City, Children's Ward and Coronation Street.

And a few weeks ago, he was headhunted to pen a story for the second series of the ITV science fiction thriller Primeval.

But for Paul, the highlights of his career so far are the episodes he has written for the highly successful Doctor Who television series.

He sent children all over the UK scuttling behind the settee with an episode called Father's Day in the first series. And in the current series, he managed to up the thrill factor again with a two-parter called Human Nature/Family of Blood, some of the most complex and dark episodes of the series to date.

Paul's involvement in writing Doctor Who began via fan fiction magazines, or fanzines as they are known, back in the 1990s.

"British Doctor Who fandom was where me, Russell T Davies and virtually everybody else who writes or produces the modern Doctor Who, all started," he explained.

"There were hundreds of fanzines back then. They published my Who fiction immediately because they had no writers and just put in whatever they got."

Years of honing his skill writing Doctor Who novels, short stories, audio plays and even a Doctor Who animation followed.

This was during the 15 years when Doctor Who was absent from our TV screens and Paul and his fellow enthusiasts dreamed and schemed of the day when it would return.

Meanwhile, his TV break had come in 1990 when he won a young writers' competition to have a 20-minute play screened on BBC2.

That eventually led to being commissioned to write for ITV's Children's Ward - then storylined by Russell T Davies - and being given his own children's TV series, called Wavelength.

Script commissions for other TV shows such as Casualty and Holby City followed as Paul continued to establish his credentials as a screenwriter and novelist.

Then, in 2005, Russell T Davies received the go-ahead from the BBC to bring Doctor Who back onto the nation's TV screens.

Paul still remembers clearly the telephone call from Davies asking him to write an episode for the first series.

"Russell asked: What are you doing right now?' and I told him I was putting some oven chips in. Then he did five minutes about how wonderful oven chips are and how they represent home and hearth.

"He said: I go on like this because I want you to remember what you were doing because this is the call you have waited for all your life'," Paul laughed.

The time lord has also had a huge influence on Paul's personal life - he met his wife Caroline, 26, at a Doctor Who party.

A graduate of Keble College, Oxford, she has just completed her thesis and is training to be a vicar.

Paul describes her as: "Fascinating and eccentric - she swordfights, plays bass, sings with an R&B band and has more Japanese anime than anyone I know."

Their wedding, in Keble College chapel, was a true Doctor Who production. Russell T Davies read a lesson, fellow Who scriptwriter Steven Moffat was best man and various other series' writers lined the pews.

He and Caroline have lived in Faringdon for eight years and he describes it as "a really wonderful town, very special".

His local the Portwell Bar "28 seconds from my front door", is where he goes after a hard day's writing.

"Being a geek previously, I never had a local or friends in town. I always lived on the Internet. It is lovely to have a gang of mates."

The night when his first Doctor Who episode, Father's Day, premiered on TV was, he said, one of the best of his life.

"It was mission achieved. I filled the room with mates from Faringdon. It was a wonderful night."

Despite all his script-writing commitments, he has managed to complete a new novel, Chalk, which will be published later this year.

Set in the 1980s in Wiltshire - where Paul grew up - the plot centres around bullying, a subject that is painfully familiar.

"I wanted to write something from the heart that I had created from the bottom up. It has been tremendously difficult. But that is where the good stuff comes from," he revealed.

He also links those tough times to his childhood fascination with Doctor Who.

"In some ways, Doctor Who is the quarter of bullied children. He is the hero who doesn't believe that might makes right' and doesn't win by using his fists.

"He uses his brain. He is a geek, an intellectual," he pointed out.

Paul is a self-confessed comic junkie: "I have a terrible addiction. I buy 20 or 25 a month."

He became hooked on Spider Man, Marvel and British Avengers comics as a boy and estimates he has around 5,000, mainly in boxes in the loft.

It was, therefore, another childhood ambition fulfilled when he was recently invited to join the likes of best-selling novelist Stephen King and write for Marvel Comics.

As a scriptwriter, he is invited to watch filming of his Doctor Who episodes and meet the actors who star in it.

"One of the nice things about David Tennant," he said, "Is that he is a fan boy himself. He talks geek and can name those obscure monsters from old episodes."

He is equally enthusiastic about Freema Agyeman who plays the Doctor's new assistant Martha Jones.

"She is cool. Laid back but incredibly hard working," he commented.

His passion for Doctor Who has not waned with success: "It has always been the warmest science fiction show. The one with the real heart," he observed.

"I grew up with Tom Baker's Doctor and remember the sudden realisation that there were Doctors before him. That got my imagination going.

"I loved Peter Davison too because he was my first regeneration. You never forget your first regeneration," he chuckled.