Book Review - Doctor Who: Shada by Gareth Roberts

THIS is a legendary Doctor Who adventure, mainly because it’s the story that never was.

Back when Douglas Adams was the show’s Script Editor, he penned Shada for the seventeenth season (1979). Filming had commenced but was interrupted by a strike at the BBC and eventually the story was dropped.

It was made into an audio adventure that Adams disliked, but has now been novelised by Dr Who stalwart Gareth Roberts.

The story involves the Fourth Doctor and Romana visiting present-day Cambridge to visit Professor Chronotis – a retired Time Lord. (A scene shot for the story was used in The Five Doctors).

The Professor asks the Doctor to return a book to Gallifrey – a very important book as it turns out, which has been accidentally borrowed by a student.

In the meantime, the criminal Skagra wants the book in order to unlock the mystery of Shada, the forgotten prison of the Time Lords.

Amazingly, Roberts has managed to bring to life the character of the Fourth Doctor in a way few other people have. It’s almost as if you are actually watching the story on the TV.

Also – and even more amazingly, he has remained true to Douglas Adams in both content and style.

The book is hard to put down, and there are many references to the work of Adams, and the writing is very reminiscent of what we see in The Hitchhikers Guide books.

I think that Adams would be very pleased at how Roberts has taken his story and brought it to life, and is a real tribute to the man himself.

Published on March 15 2012 by BBC Books.

ISBN 978-1-84990-327-1

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