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Shada - The Titfield Thunderbolt
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Shada
Book Review: Doctor Who - Shada, by Gareth Roberts
Shada! Shaaaaaada! To be spoken in an inimitable whispering yet booming voice, the stuff of legend. I remember the Winter of Discontent mainly for school lessons taking place in some unorthodox locations, the bin bags being communally taken to a nearby car park, and moving house, with the vendors' removal company going on strike. But in the annals of Doctor Who, it is famous for losing the end of season story by Douglas Adams due to industrial action at the BBC. (Although Adams' name is emblazoned prominently on the book cover, the copyright statement for the novelization within is that of Roberts alone).

I picked this up in the shop during my recent visit to The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. I am passingly familiar with the story, from The Doctor Who Programme Guide and also the 1990s VHS release (which, in an interesting afterword, Roberts notes was "accidental" in that Adams allegedly didn't realise that was included in an agreement he was signing), but in both these cases for me the story unravels as it proceeds and becomes somewhat difficult to follow.

Roberts' novelization contains all the well-known gags - "May week's in June", "Milk - one lump or two?", "So you understand Einstein? And Planck? And Newton? And Schoenberg?" - and so on. There are one or two sections that do stand out as obvious later additions, and I believe there is quite a bit of stitching together, but most of that appears pretty seamless, and makes for a much more satisfyingly joined-up story than the remnants of the original.

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