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From the unique mind of Douglas Adams, the legendary "lost" Doctor Who story has been completed at last by Gareth Roberts and narrated by Lalla Ward.

The Doctor’s old friend and fellow Time Lord Professor Chronotis has retired to Cambridge University—where nobody will notice if he lives for centuries. But now he needs help from the Doctor, Romana and K-9. When he left Gallifrey he took with him a few little souvenirs—most of them are harmless. But one of them is extremely dangerous.

The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey isn’t a book for Time Tots. It is one of the Artifacts, dating from the dark days of Rassilon. It must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. The sinister Skagra most definitely has the wrong hands. He wants the book. He wants to discover the truth behind Shada. And he wants the Doctor’s mind...

Based on the scripts for the original television series by the legendary Douglas Adams, Shada retells an adventure that never made it to the screen.

416 pages, Hardcover

First published July 1, 2012

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About the author

Gareth Roberts

63 books88 followers
Gareth Roberts has written TV scripts for various soap operas (including Brookeside, Springhill, and Emmerdale), Randall & Hopkirk (deceased), the revival of Doctor Who, the Sarah Jane Adventures, and Wizards vs Aliens.

Also for the Doctor Who universe, he has written the interactive adventure Attack of the Graske, the mobile phone TARDISODEs accompanying the 2006 series, several Big Finish audios, and multiple novels, as well as contributed to Doctor Who Magazine.

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Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,107 reviews3,542 followers
January 6, 2016
One of the best Doctor Who's novels that you'll ever read!


The Doctor: The Fourth Doctor

Companions: Romana II & K-9


Cambridge University, 1979


The Fourth Doctor visits his good friend and also a Time Lord, the Professor Chronotis, on his office at Cambridge, responding to a message by him. However, first, Chronotis doesn't remember having to call them; second, he has a powerful and dangerous item with him; third, a crazy villain is after that item.

At the age of five, Skagra decided emphatically that God did not exist. This revelation tends to make most people in the universe who have it react in one of two ways — with relief or with despair. Only Skagra responded to it by thinking, Wait a second. That means there's a situation vacant.


This is the ultimate version of the famous Shada. This is a novel written by Gareth Roberts based on the original script by Douglas Adams for the unaired TV serial Shada.

This is a story that any Doctor Who's fan wants to read since it would to be a TV serial on the original run of the TV series during the period of the Fourth Doctor, however due a strike on BBC, they started to film it but they never ended it and when the strike was resolved, the production just went to the next story and Shada remained as the famous never aired serial of Doctor Who.

The behind-the-scenes story of Shada is as entertained as the chronicled adventure itself. Douglas Adams, the great writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (just to name his most famous work), was the writer of the original script to be used on the TV serial. For some unknown reasons, Douglas Adams hated Shada and he commented that he was glad that the serial was never completed.

Gareth Roberts, the hired author to develop the novelization of the script (and a great fan of Adams' work) explained that he reasoned the behaviour of Adams to Shada due the pressing by the producers to finish quickly the script and so, Adams didn't have time to revise his work. Due the adquired fame of the unaired serial, obviously BBC was very interested to market it.

Douglas Adams was always adamant about the novelization of any of his Doctor Who scripts and due that, some of the great missing serials in the Target novels are precisely the ones written by Adams (There are unofficial novelizations of those serials made by a fan group based on New Zealand, including Shada).

However, it seemed that at some moment, Douglas Adams signed a permit to market Shada. Douglas Adams claimed that he was fooled to sign a paper that he didn't realize was a permit to the marketting of Shada. Anyway, BBC started his marketting of the famous serial. First, they included it on VHS and DVD boxes, using the few filmed material along with a recording of Tom Baker (actor who played the Fourth Doctor) reading the unfilmed parts. Later, BBC wanted to produce an audio play of the story, however at that moment, Baker refused to do it, and then BBC adapted the script to function as an adventure of the Eighth Doctor.

But after all that titanic efforts, Shada still remained like a broken doll, something with great potential but still lacking to shine its greatness.

Finally, BBC commisioned Gareth Roberts to make the official novelization of Shada and he even had access not only to the original script but also to many notes, drafts and proposed changes to it made by Adams during the tumultuous filming of the serial. With all that precious material along with his own love for the serial and the general work of Adams, the writer Gareth Roberts finally was able to make not only the novelization of Shada but a tribute to one of the best sci-fi writers ever existed.


There is something that I love that Gareth Roberts commented about the key factor of why the Douglas Adams' work is so special, so great, and it's that Adams was able to write a sci-fi material that people laugh WITH it, not AT it. Sounds so simple and logic but nevertheless some people just don't get it, when they know that the novels and works of Adams contained humor on them, they think that it must be some silly comedy and they don't read it, and by that, they are missing a whole delicious experience on reading such wonderful and spectacular work.

Gareth Roberts had to make changes during the process of the novelization, some small, some big, but all in the best interest to show how great Shada is, along making a respectful homage to Douglas Adams' work. This time wasn't an unfinished serial, it wasn't a patchwork video product, it wasn't an alternate version in audio play, now it was the ultimate and definitive version of Shada, a truly epic and wonderful story of the Fourth Doctor, a proud addition to the lore of Doctor Who franchise.

I can assure you that if you decide to read this book, you will enjoy it a lot. You have the Fourth Doctor with the companions of Romana II and K-9. The Doctor is wonderful and formidable here showing why he is one of the best ever conceived sci-fi characters. You will have great supportive characters as Professor Chronotis, Chris Parsons and Clare Keightley. You will have a powerful villain in Skagra. And I can assure that you will have such overblowing scenes that they will make to explode your imagination and excitement to new levels.

Shada is waiting for you.

Inside this book is another book — the strangest, most important and most dangerous book in the entire universe.

The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey is one of the artefacts, dating from dark days of Rassilon. It wields enormous power, and it must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

Skagra — who believes he should be God and permits himself only two smiles per day — most definitely has the wrong hands.

Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada.

Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,864 reviews10.5k followers
October 11, 2012
The Doctor and Romana receive a mysterious distress signal, leading them to Cambridge University, home of The Doctor's old friend and fellow Time Lord, Professor Chronotis. Chronotis inadvertantly lets a Time Lord artifact, a book entitled The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey, pass into the hands of a clueless young student. Unfortunately, an egomanic called Skagra also has designs on the book and will do anything to get it. Can The Doctor find the book, stop Skagra's nefarious scheme, and unearth the secrets of Shada?

I have a confession to make. Before getting hooked on the adventures of the eleventh Doctor and began backtracking, my only exposure to Doctor Who was on Sunday nights, waiting through Pertwee and Baker episodes for Red Dwarf to come on. I've since mended my ways.

I recently read Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles and was disappointed with it despite it having been written by Michael Moorcock. I'm happy to say that this one was loads better.

Crafted from mostly unfilmed Douglas Adams's scripts, Shada is the tale of three Time Lords against a man with a sphere capable of absorbing people's minds. Skagra, the villain, manages to be simultaneously menacing and somewhat ridiculous. From his first appearance at the Think Tank, Skagra presents a capable threat to the Doctor. The subplots involing the unspoken feeling between the grad students, Clare and Chris, as well as Professor Chronotis and his place in the secret history of the Time Lords, kept things from being The Doctor running from enemies on every other page.

The meaning of the title, Shada, is only revealed about 75% of the way through. I don't want to spoil anything but I would love to see Shada depicted in a future Doctor Who episode. I guess I'll have to settle for watching Tom Baker's run as the fourth Doctor.

The writing was very engaging. There were tastes of Adams' style throughout but without as much absurdity as the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Guide was even mentioned once in the text. References to past and future Doctor Who episodes were littered throughout, even mentioning edible ballbearings. I loved when Roberts had the Doctor poke fun at his supposed reliance on the Sonic Screwdriver. "I'm about to not rely on it for everything again in a moment" or something to that effect.

In conclusion, Shada is everything Coming of the Terraphiles wasn't. There's plenty of the Doctor and the Sonic Screwdriver gets a fair amount of use. While there is a lot of the Doctor and companions running from enemies, there's a good amount of humor and dramatic tension as well. I wouldn't say it's a must read for Doctor Who fans but it's a lot of fun.
Profile Image for Jaya.
429 reviews222 followers
September 25, 2020
Read Count:Lost track
Rating: Glorious 5 x n times 🌟
What did you enjoy: Everything
Recommend it to:: Everyone

My most/all time favorite Doctor Who story
No wonder it is written by Douglas Adams , realized it the first time I'd heard its BBC adaption and the post-production audios.
Since I wasn't satisfied just listening to the audio, got myself a copy of the book. Its truly awesome. No matter how many times I'v read this one stopped counting after reading it the initial five times..., it feels like a new story Every. Single. Time.
c'est vraiment magnifique

Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews753 followers
November 19, 2017
“The stranger looked between her and the spectrograph and seemed to come to a decision. He smiled suddenly and unexpectedly, with teeth like two rows of great gleaming tombstones. ‘Hello, I’m the Doctor,’ he said, extending a hand.”

Dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum (etc.)… Ooo-ee-ooo OooEEooo… oooooEEooooo… OoooEoooo… oooeEoooo… Du Du Du Du… Du Du Du Du…

Sorry, I always get the urge to do that when I review a Doctor Who book (this is only my second one*, perhaps I can refrain from doing this by the third book). I imagine “teeth like two rows of great gleaming tombstones” is enough of a clue for most diehard Whovians to figure out which Doctor this book is about. I mean who can forget these pearly whites:

Shada is a novelization of Douglas Adams’s script for a six parts 1979 Doctor Who serial that was only partially filmed and never completed due to a writers strike at the time. The incompletely filmed script has been adapted several times for animated direct to video release, audio drama and whatnot (see Wikipedia’s Shada entry). The only adaptation that concerns is here is Gareth Roberts' novelization.

The basic plot of Shada concerns a psychopathic alien’s plot to find an ancient Gallifreyan book that will lead to his dominion of the universe (a minimal goal for most Who villains**). It is up to the toothy Fourth Doctor, cute Time Lady Romana II, and the wondrous tin dog K-9 to save the day; added by an elderly Time Lord and a couple of regular earthlings.

The Doctor, Romana II, and K-9, with these three names I already have no resistance to this book, if it was very bad I would probably still quite like it. Fortunately it is the polar opposite of very bad. The breezy, affable narrative tone through most of the narrative is reminiscent of Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, and a bit of Terry Pratchett. I have not read anything by Gareth Roberts before so I don't know if this is how he normally writes, though I am quite familiar with his works on NuWho episodes, namely "The Unicorn and the Wasp", "The Lodger", "Closing Time" etc. These episodes clearly indicate that he is no stranger to comedic writing. However, beside being very funny Shada is also a proper Doctor Who adventure. It is not wall to wall jocular silliness, the stakes are high, there is death and destruction, and even moments of pathos. The humorous tone of the narrative during the first half of the book recedes noticeably in the second half to make room for the sci-fi thriller aspect befitting any well balanced Who story, though it is still there in the background.

The characterization work in this book is top notched, The Fourth Doctor, Romana II, and K-9 are exactly as I remember them on TV. It is very easy to imagine Tom Baker and Lalla Ward acting out the story and dear old K-9 the tin dog has some dialog to die for. The supporting characters are all very well written, with the befuddled Time Lord Professor Chronotis being particularly memorable. The trusty TARDIS, the sonic screwdriver, and the wibbly space-time vortex are all present of course.

Shada really is a blast to read from beginning to end and should not be missed by Whovians and other Earthlings. It is even better with a bag of Jelly Babies.

Do read it, and don’t wander off!
Tardis line
* The other one is Alastair Reynolds' Doctor Who: Harvest of Time featuring the Third Doctor (Pertwee!). It is also brilliant, a ton of fun, but lighter in tone than Reynolds' legendary Revelation Space (non-Who) space opera series.

** The truly ambitious ones would seek to dominate all multiverses.
Profile Image for Craig.
4,802 reviews103 followers
April 27, 2022
Shada was the famous "lost" adventure of Doctor Who, which was to have been the final serial of the show's seventeenth season in 1980. Douglas Adams (who was also the script editor of the show that year) wrote the script, and filming was begun but never completed due to a strike at the BBC. A couple of different versions in different formats appeared in subsequent years, and Adams famously claimed that he only gave his permission for them because his agent sent him a large pile of papers to sign, and he didn't bother reading them all and so didn't know what he was signing. Adams did not want this (or any of his other Doctor Who scripts) to be novelized, and he recycled much of this into one of his other novels. The fourth version of the title character was the star, accompanied by the second version of Time Lady Romanadvoratrelundar and K-9, the robotic canine. Roberts' adaptation seems to me to be far too long and would have been better at half the length. Adams was best known for his absurdist humor, but Roberts takes every opportunity to make a long joke about everything. The Doctor is too much of a clown, the emotional and romantic Romana doesn't ring true to me at all, and Gallifreyan society is too silly. I think it's a well-done pastiche of (and perhaps homage to) Adams but doesn't read like a Doctor Who novel. On the other hand, you'll find many reviews posted here from eloquent and intelligent people who praise it quite highly, so I may be way off base in going against the grain.
Profile Image for Mela.
195 reviews7 followers
June 4, 2012
Okay, some coherent thoughts ... THIS BOOK WAS BRILLIANT. Nothing really struck me as boring, silly or un-Doctor-Who-ish. I laughed, I cheered, I was excited and most important, I felt I was in the middle of the action of the book.

Gareth Roberts managed to write as funny as Adams without trying to imitate him and failing horribly. You really felt the presence of Douglas, but it was at the same moment not some bad imitation of his funniness and genius. That's no insult to Gareth Roberts, though. He wrote the book, after all, only using Douglas' scripts and other notes, and made it to this genius novel. Finally a completed version of "Shada" that feels right!

The characters were great, too. I really liked Clare (and how could you not, she was brilliant), I loved Chris for filling the role of the "gorgeous time-travelling assistant". Though I felt Romana a bit left out, but it could also be that Romana is one of my favourite companions.

All in all, a brilliant book.
Profile Image for Terence.
1,148 reviews382 followers
October 9, 2012
As a rule I don’t read Doctor Who novels. I enjoy (mostly) the new series, and I loved the old series when the PBS station in St. Louis aired them when I was a kid. When I was that kid, I got a three-in-one volume of the Fourth Doctor’s (my favorite’s) adventures written by Terry Nation from the Science Fiction Book Club, and I know (but can’t remember the titles) of a few other novelizations I read. I can’t say that I ever acquired a taste for them, however. Certainly not one that equaled my youthful quest to get all the Star Trek novels (this was pre-TNG so the goal was within the realm of possibility at the time).

So why this particular Whovian tome?

Number one, it’s based on Douglas Adams's script and notes, and, number two, it concerns the Fourth Doctor (admittedly post-Sarah Jane but still pre-Adric).

And I enjoyed it. It was a pleasurable way to kill a few lunch hours and before-bedtime moments. Admittedly, it tended to read more like a script than a novel at times but if you’re a true Who fan you don’t need much character build up anyway. You already know what to expect. The adventure was sufficiently universe-threatening and the villain, Skagra, was one of the series’ more interesting. I wasn’t quite sold on how The Doctor managed to take control of Skagra’s ship (I won’t spoil it further than that) but aside from that quibble, I found the escapades and death-defying escapes no more outrageous than any other episode and fun to read.

In sum, if you’re a DW fan, you’ll like this book; if not, don’t read it (or, if you do, prepare to be lost pretty much from page one since a fully grounded Whovian background is assumed).
Profile Image for دانیال بهزادی.
220 reviews99 followers
December 31, 2020
‫داستان خیلی جالب بود و پر از اشارات و کنایه‌های سیاسی و اجتماعی آدامزی بود که حتا قوی‌تر از اون‌هایی بود که توی مسافران مجانی کهکشان دیده بودیم. از نقطه‌نظر داستانی هم تقریباً قوی بود و داستان خوبی رو روایت می‌کرد. واقعاً حیفه که یه فیلم جدید از روش نمی‌سازن.
Profile Image for Nicholas Whyte.
4,565 reviews175 followers
June 16, 2012
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1924079.html[return][return][return]We've waited a long time for this, the lost novelisation of the lost Doctor Who story, brought to life from the final version of Adams' script by one of the best-placed of the current Who authors. And it is pretty damn good. Having watched both the 1992 video of the surviving parts of the original 1979 filming, and the webcast version with Paul McGann, and also read a previous fan-produced novelisation, the single most important thing about this new version is that it actually makes sense. Roberts has teased out threads of narrative left him by Adams, thickened them up and knitted them into a warm colourful and much longer scarf of story. I often find myself complaining about sf stories - and I think I have previously made this complaint about Shada - that the means and motivation of the characters, especially the bad guys, is inadequately explained. But now we actually understand who Skagra and Salyavin are, and why they behave as they do. In addition, we have the extra romantic depth we had always hoped must be there between Clare and Chris, nicely contrasted with the relationship between the Doctor and Romana. And Roberts delights with his love of the work, with several entertaining references to the Hitch-Hiker's Guide thrown in (I particularly liked a vignette at the end riffing off both a Hitch-Hiker's joke from the final radio episode, and the earliest moments of Who continuity). Not sure that this would be a good place to start for people who know nothing about Doctor Who, but I think anyone with even the vaguest knowledge of the Tom Baker years will enjoy it immensely.
Profile Image for Beth.
Author 9 books555 followers
September 14, 2016
Doctor Who and Douglas Adams, what's not to love? Gareth Roberts did a terrific job in cobbling together scripts that Douglas Adams wrote for a 6-part Doctor Who series into a witty and wonderful novel. Such fun!
Profile Image for Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*.
965 reviews167 followers
January 4, 2015
"One thing I've learnt from being the Doctor's friend is that the universe is full of wonderful things, amazing opportunities. And you have to grab them with both hands. And hope they never end."

Best. Doctor. Who. Book. EVER.

For real and for true. This is the cherry on the top of the sundae, the warm blanket and hot mug of tea after a long wintry day, it is a wonderful and incredible book and I never wanted it to end!

I did start out having high hopes for it, since I have listened to the Big Finish audio production of this story and I absolutely loved that as well. But I was just really not expecting this book to be as fantastic as it was. I loved the two human characters, Chris and Clare from Cambridge. They were developed enough that they added a perfect flavor to the story without overwhelming it. I thought the baddie, Skagra was deliciously arrogant and twisted. And the surprise twist in the story was brilliantly designed and perfectly executed! This book was just the perfect culmination of humor, silliness, heart, adventure, and danger to make any Doctor Who fan squeal with joy.

"He's saved your planet many, many times. And not just yours. He's the most wonderful man in the universe. And if you tell him I said that, I'll kill you."
Profile Image for Robin.
243 reviews37 followers
December 30, 2012
I don't mean to be crude here, but I'm going to be. Please look away if your sensibilities are easily insensibled.

HOLY SHIT! A DOUGLAS ADAMS DOCTOR WHO THAT FEATURES REG? It's over. The world is over. Douglas Adams won. Reading this is actually going to be anti-climactic now.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled Goodreads post.

that was good. if you've read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, this story will be a little familiar, but I still recommend it.
aside from the Doctor, Reg and Romana, there's also K9. every book could use more K9.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,281 reviews33 followers
May 30, 2018
Gareth Roberts has finally managed to complete Shada - and done so still maintaining a very Douglas Adams-like style, so it isn't as clear as I thought it might be which bits came from the original Adams scripts for the series, and which bits Roberts created from the notes to those scripts. The overall result was laugh-out-loud funny, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Profile Image for Harold Ogle.
307 reviews43 followers
August 28, 2013
"Shada" is the name of a "Doctor Who" serial from 1980, written by Douglas Adams right around the time he was becoming famous for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Shada is the novel that Gareth Roberts based on the "Shada" story, using the remains of what Adams wrote as a starting point.

Roberts does a convincing job writing Adams, perhaps even more convincing than what Colfer did with And Another Thing... a few years earlier. The story of the TV serial is pretty interesting in itself, which Roberts provides in his Afterword. Douglas Adams had worked as a writer for "Monty Python's Flying Circus" some years earlier, and then the BBC hired him as the writer for the second serial of "Doctor Who's" fifteenth season (the Key to Time story arc). Adams' story was called "The Pirate Planet," and remains one of the wackiest and most quotable adventures in the series. On the strength of that serial, the BBC hired Adams a bit more than a year later to serve as script editor for season 17. In that role, he'd dreamed up an adventure in which the Doctor has tired of adventure and wishes to retire. He continued to bounce that idea around for a while, but on short notice Robert Holmes scrapped the idea and asked Adams to produce a different script. "Shada" was the dashed-out result. Though Roberts cleaned up the story a fair amount, to my eye there's still a lot that indicates this was a rush job. More on that later, though. Back to the script: Douglas Adams had finished it, and production began on shooting the footage for the serial, when the BBC technical crews went on strike (reportedly for a disagreement about jurisdiction on an unrelated children's show). Whatever remained of the shooting schedule was lost to the strike, and "Shada" was never completed.

Because "Shada" was partially filmed, however, it's been a magnet for Whovians for decades, unlike all the adventures that were completed, were broadcast, and were then destroyed by the BBC (presumably before the home video market took off in the UK). That, combined with Douglas Adams' name, has resulted in more attempts to get the "Shada" story out to the world than for any other incomplete/inaccessible/lost "Doctor Who" adventure. Scenes from "Shada" were appropriated for later "Doctor Who" stories, such as "The Five Doctors" (in which the 4th Doctor and Romana only appear briefly in a shot punting on the Cam before they are trapped off-screen for the rest of the adventure). Later, the BBC hired Tom Baker to read some by-all-accounts awful bridging narration to connect the scenes which had been filmed; the resulting mess was published to home video in 1992. In 2002, the BBC had Big Finish Productions rewrite "Shada" to feature the 8th Doctor (although, strangely, still with Romana and K-9). It was then recorded and produced as one of the Flash-animated web adventures, posted for the 40th Anniversary celebrations in 2003. Fans have written various novelisations, but none were official until this one, written by Gareth Roberts and then published in 2011.

The story is pretty pedestrian, though it does provide more information about the Time Lords and Gallifrey, developing what was already provided by the adventures of the 3rd and 4th Doctors. As such it has a lot of nice continuity bits in it. The story even features the cube that the 2nd Doctor used to contact the Time Lords in "The War Games." Like many "Doctor Who" novelisations, it's strange to read the story arranged in chapters, because some of the chapters end with a cliffhanger (clearly the end of one of the episodes), while the rest just end. I suspect that I'd prefer that, if chapters needed to be used, that the chapters correspond more precisely to the actual episodes. Or maybe they could be normal chapters, but divided into "parts"? It's a minor thing, but noticeable nonetheless because the rhythm is so different. I say the story is fairly pedestrian, but it does progress in a satisfying manner: from a very humble beginning, with the stakes being raised repeatedly to the point that the whole fate of the universe is at stake. That's satisfying in a way, yes, but at the same time it feels somewhat pat for Douglas Adams.

There's a lot here that screams out that the story was written by Douglas Adams. The story is very comic, for one thing, and slightly lewd in a way that Adams tended to write. The villain Skagra is dressed outrageously in a silver jumpsuit, cape, and broad-brimmed hat like some Elton John costume, and so of course there's a gay guy who is excited because he thinks he's going to hook up with the alien. The story is also largely about young lovers, with a capable female and a hapless, clueless male (they might as well be called Trillian and Arthur). The story ends with what is essentially an entire chapter of expository denouement; pages and pages of the characters explaining how they figured out this and what was the meaning of that, after all the action had been completed. That's actually less of an Adams hallmark as it is evidence of a rushed script. Amusingly - and consistent with nearly all of the adventures from this time period - Adams clearly had no idea what to do with K-9 other than to make jokes at the robot's expense, so K-9 is totally useless in this story. Doctor Who adventures from the later Tom Baker serials all treat K-9 like Worf in "Star Trek: the Next Generation:" he should be terribly capable and useful, but is instead just the butt of jokes and gets put in distress a lot).

The book was fun, but only really recommended to anyone who is already a "Doctor Who" original series fan.
January 21, 2017
Il connubio Douglas Adams e Doctor Who è il marchio di garanzia che non dovrebbe far esitare gli appassionati dell’uno o dell’altro, e soprattutto di entrambi, come sono anch’io.
La genialità e la freschezza di Douglas Adams possono dirsi tagliati su misura per il personaggio del Dottore, per la sua personalità che mescola saggezza, irriverenza e un tocco di eccentricità.
Mi sono avvicinato a Douglas Adams leggendo quello che è riconosciuto a buon diritto come il suo capolavoro, ovvero il ciclo della Guida Galattica per Autostoppisti. Questa opera può essere considerata come la summa del pensiero di Adams, dato che in essa si sviluppano svariati temi che, con un’ironia mai scadente né ridicola, abbracciano aspetti dell’uomo molto delicati, come il suo rapporto con la religione o con il potere.
Parte delle considerazioni di Adams confluiscono in questa ricostruzione del soggetto televisivo che l’autore inglese stava curando per la BBC, prodotto che non vide mai la luce sotto forma di trasposizione televisiva a causa di problematiche che coinvolsero l’autore e la produzione dello show di Doctor Who. La ricostruzione dell’opera è stata svolta da Gareth Roberts e, per quanto possano essere subentrate in seguito aggiunte o modifiche, si percepisce nitidamente lo stile originale di Adams.
La narrazione ha un ritmo molto incalzante e, forse anche grazie alle caratteristiche del genere sci-fi che se sfruttato bene lascia aperta la porta a un’infinita capacità di inventare e reinventare storie, la curiosità nel lettore viene accesa a tal punto da non riuscire ad abbandonare la lettura del volume.
Ogni volta che ci si avvicina alla materia “who-viana” ci si imbatte in un’esperienza che amplifica le capacità di immaginare e provare sensazioni, aspetto sicuramente dovuto alla particolare teatralità del personaggio presentato, al suo modo di interagire con l’ambiente circostante che gli presenta nuove sfide. Incontrare Doctor Who in televisione o su un testo scritto pone lo spettatore/lettore al cospetto di un alieno, il Dottore, che mostra luci e ombre di un carattere che sa essere severo e dolce allo stesso tempo, che ha grandi capacità mentali, vastissime conoscenze, il dono di sapersi spostare nello spazio e nel tempo ma, nonostante queste sovrumane capacità e la sua natura aliena, sa far brillare la bellezza dell’essere umani al cospetto di terrestri o di altri alieni che dimenticano qualsiasi bellezza o barlume di bontà. Per non parlare dell’eterno barlume di speranza che il suo modo di agire e sentenziare riesce a far brillare e riportare nella vita dei lettori che si appassionano alle sue avventure.
Doctor Who – Shada è un libro che consiglierei sicuramente agli appassionati del genere, ma il carattere autoconclusivo dell’opera e la spiegazione iniziale, permette anche ai neofiti o ai semplici curiosi di accostarsi all’opera senza difficoltà di sorta. Doctor Who – Shada è un perfetto miscuglio di sci-fi, humour, azione e, perché no, anche un po’ di giallo e rosa. In questo variopinto arazzo narrativo i generi sono sapientemente collegati tra loro, senza nessuna stonatura nella trama, senza la minima imperfezione.
Attualmente, tra i libri di questo inizio anno, è sicuramente quello che ho apprezzato di più e credo proprio che sarà difficile spodestarlo dal podio delle letture migliori del 2017, nonostante la sessione di letture dell’anno sia appena iniziata.
Profile Image for David Sarkies.
1,773 reviews300 followers
March 4, 2015
A Doctor Who serial that was never completed
29 December 2012

I can't actually call this the famous lost episode of the original Doctor Who namely because there are actually a number of episodes that have been officially lost. While some have resurfaced over the years since the BBC went about destroying these episodes, there are still quite a number of them from the first and second Doctors that are missing and will probably never be found. This particular episode, though, was only half made and never completed due to a strike at the BBC. It was also the last Doctor Who serial that Douglas Adams ever penned (as far as I am aware that is).

I don't remember too much of this serial, but the script came in a boxed set that contained a partially reconstructed version of the episode. Namely the recorded sections of the serial were edited and the sections of the serial that were not recorded at the time were placed in by way of subtitles over a frozen image. This was actually interesting to watch because we get to see how a television show is actually put together. In fact movies and series are never actually filmed as they appear, but rather in a sort of more haphazard way. Generally studio shots are done first and then the location shots are done elsewhere. Also, scenes in the same area are all filmed together, so when we actually watch this serial we discover that the end of the serial was filmed before much of the middle section.

It is a shame that some of the old Doctor Who episodes are missing and will never be recovered, particularly since I tend to prefer the original series than the new series. However, Doctor Who has never really died, and when the show was taken off the air in the late eighties, a series of 'New Adventures' (which have been a subject of a number of commentaries that I have written) were written and pretty much bridged the gap between the old and the new series. However the Doctor Who novels (which took a much more adult tone than the TV series) are not considered cannon.

The one thing that I can say about Doctor Who is that some of the earlier episodes, particularly the Tom Baker episodes, are actually quite scary. It is interesting that the Australian censors went at some of the episodes due to their horror content, and two particular serials, The Brain of Mobius, and The Deadly Assassin, were not shown on television due to the horror content. However, when Doctor Who shifted to a 2:00 am timeslot, they were eventually shown (and I believe that at that time they went through all of the available episodes, from the beginning to the end).
Profile Image for Jared Millet.
Author 17 books51 followers
October 1, 2012
Here's a fun bit of fluff: New-Who writer Gareth Roberts' novelization of Old-Who writer Douglas Adams' famous unfilmed screenplay that was axed by a strike at the BBC. As evidenced by Roberts' afterword, the novel Shada is an expansion and reworking of the original story into something a little grander and truer to the ideas that the late Adams was trying to squeeze by on limited 1980's TV production values.

The result is something that's fun to read on a Sunday afternoon, but doesn't quite measure up to a true Adams novel. (Eoin Colfer came closer with And Another Thing.) There are unmistakable bits of Adams DNA, however, such as the enemy spaceship with a personality to match Hitchhiker's Heart of Gold, or the sinister madman from the pristine, beautiful pleasure planet who just can't stand sitting on the beach all day and goes out to conquer the universe.

My strongest temptation would be to send this book back in a time vortex so that readers of the early 80's could be confused by all the sly references to Doctor Who episodes that hadn't happened yet. In true Old-Who form, the Doctor himself is a static character like a scientific Lone Ranger, and therefore the only characters who have an actual arc are the guest stars, in this case a pair of Cambridge grad students, the snarling villain, and a slightly senile professor who also happens to be a retired Time Lord.

Still, I feel it's a crime that Shada was never completed as a TV serial. Despite the fact that Adams was never completely satisfied with his script (and what writer ever is?) it would have been a lovely endcap to his brief tenure as Doctor Who's head writer.
Profile Image for Mark.
1,294 reviews50 followers
July 12, 2014
This book always starts as an abandoned tv serial that never came to completion due to a strike. So one of Douglas Adams tales never got the treatment it deserves and was wanted by the fans of the show. And in a brilliant world he himself would have written this book but alas he did not and can no longer do it due to his being no longer among us living, as we like to call ourselves.

SHADA the book as written by Gareth Roberts based upon Adams material is a hoot and then some.

It is about a book that is overdue at the library of the Timelords and through an emergency call the Doctor is called by a retired Timelord who is residing at the Cambridge University, just to return the book. Life would be boring if all went to plan. And so this evil chap Skagra has his whole life set on a course that would mean he would obtain this book and through it find the fabled SHADA so he could implement his masterplan.

What is SHADA?- Well, read the book!
What is the masterplan of Skagra?- Again, read the book.
Will reading the book satisfy me?- Read the book and find out.

The fourth Doctor, my favorite Doctor, and Romana, another Timelord or more correctly Timelady, do enjoy this adventure and make the reader love and live the story through them. The innocent humans involved are to be envied for their grand adventure.

This book is a lovely piece of soap opera to be enjoyed and laughed with and is a credit to the wit of Douglas Adams.
Profile Image for çilek.
31 reviews
July 3, 2016
İlk olarak 'Doctor Who' hakkında biraz bilgi vermeliyim, diziyi izlememiş olanlar için.
Doktor, Gallifrey gezegeninden bir uzaylıdır -Zaman Lordudur- fakat insan görünümündedir. TARDIS denilen zaman makinesiyle, uzay ve zamanda seyahat etmektedir. Ayrıca yanında bir veya birden fazla yol arkadaşı olur. Rejenerasyon geçiren biridir Doktor. En ufak hücresine kadar yenilenir.

Kitabı okurken ise adeta bir Doctor Who bölümü izler gibiydim. Zaman Leydisi olan Romana ile seyahat eden, atkısıyla ünlü olan 4. Doktor, Zaman Lordu olan arkadaşı Profesör Chronotis'in 'Gallifrey'in Muhterem ve Kadim Yasaları'nı aldığını öğrenir. Bu kitap gerçekten çok tehlikelidir. Üstelik Skagra kitabı çalar, bu tehlikeli kitabın böyle bir adamın eline geçmesi son derece kötüdür evren için, felaketle sonuçlanabilir.

Bir Whovian -Doctor Who fanı- olduğum için, kitabı büyük bir istekle okudum. İyi ki okumuşum.
Eğer bilimkurgu seviyorsanız, Doctor Who dizisini izlemenizi şiddetle tavsiye ederim!
Fakat şunu söylemeden geçemeyeceğim: Dziyi daha önce hiç duymadıysanız, hiçbir fikriniz yoksa eğer, kitap size karışık gelebilir. TARDIS, K-9 , Gallifrey gibi kelimeler kitapta açıklanmış fakat kafanız karışabilir az da olsa.
Kitabın kapağını kapayınca beynimden vurulmuşa döndüm, çünkü çok fazla olay yaşanıyor ve kafanız ister istemez karışıyor, ama inanın buna değdi :)
101 reviews
July 1, 2012
For fans of the classic Doctor Who, Shada was a story of legend, even before this novelization. Written by Douglas Adams and intended to be a six part series for Tom Baker's fourth Doctor, the series was never finished because of a strike. Some of the footage shot for the series did eventually surface as part of The Five Doctors special.

Now, thanks to Gareth Roberts, himself a veteran of the new Doctor Who series, we can finally see what this unfinished series might have looked like.

The story, in six parts (just as the televised series would have aired) is brilliant, twisting and turning about as few other Doctor Who stories of that era have done. At times, it seems that Roberts almost channels the original scriptor with passages that reminded me of so much of Douglas Adams' own Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, so much so that I feel that Roberts would have been a worthy successor to keep the adventures of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect going after Adams' untimely passing. He captures the mannerisms of both Baker's Doctor and Lalla Ward's Romana that is becomes hard pressed for this Doctor Who fan to not read this book without hearing their voices. Shada pulled me in, keeping me turning page after page, through cliffhanger after cliffhanger.
Profile Image for Michela.
102 reviews58 followers
January 9, 2016
Dire che sono una Whovian, chi mi conosce lo sa, è riduttivo. La mia conoscenza delle serie classiche non è buona: ho tutta la teoria ma mi manca la pratica, ovvero ho nozione di chi è cosa ma non ho visto le puntate. Tom Baker in ogni caso è un gran signore oggi che è un anziano vecchietto, e quando era un giovane quarantenne tutto occhi, tutto capelli, tutto sorrisone e tutta sciarpa, era anche splendido (sotto tanti aspetti, non parlo certo di estetica). Stiamo poi parlando di Douglas Adams, di cui ahimè ancora non mi sono letta niente ma di cui ho visto l'adattamento in film della Guida Galattica per Autostoppisti. Gareth Roberts, che è uno sceneggiatore molto bravo, ha fatto un lavoro sapiente nel riprendere il materiale lasciato da Douglas Adams e ha creato un'avventura interessante, divertente, piena di colpi di scena e anche di drama, in uno stile scorrevole e accattivante. Shada è un gioiellino e andrebbe letto da ogni fan del Dottore e di Douglas Adams, e soprattutto da chi è entrambe le cose!
Ricordatevi l'asciugamano!
Profile Image for Fulya İçöz.
401 reviews146 followers
February 22, 2020
Tek kelimeyle harika bir Doctor Who macerası. Benim sevdiğim Doktorlar'dan birinin üstelik. Evet, her Doktor'u sevmiyorum. Hele ki son sezondaki Doktor'dan zerre hazzetmiyorum. O yüzden bu kitap ilaç gibi geldi. Özellikle o tatlı ters köşe harikaydı diyebilirim. Okumaya başladıktan sonra çok hızlı ilerleyememiştim zamansızlıktan ötürü ama son 2 günde bitiriverdim. Aslında oldukça sürükleyici bir macera ve tüm Doctor Who severlerin keyifle okuyabileceğini düşünüyorum.

Sadece keşke çevirisine de daha fazla özen gösterilseymiş diye düşünmekten alamadım. Yer yer cümle düşüklükleri, yer yer Türkçede karşılığı olmayan yapay söz öbekleri ve en kötüsü son 50 sayfada karmakarışık hale gelen öznelerdi. Bazı şeyleri kim yapmış anlaşılmıyordu. Ama İthaki buna çok teşne bir yayınevi. Gerçekten kitapları ard arda basmak için özensizce baskıya veriyorlar. Çevirmene kızamıyorum bile. En son bir HG Wells kitabını berbat çeviriden ötürü okuyamamıştım. Bir baktım aaaa İthaki. :(
Profile Image for Ali The Pep Rally.
10 reviews1 follower
March 22, 2019
This was my first Doctor Who novel, despite being a dedicated Whovian. I have to say, I enjoyed it much more than I expected! I loved it just as much as I love watching the show. I'm also a huge fan of Douglas Adams, so it was great to see these two combined. I highly recommend this book if you love the show!
Profile Image for Roxana Chirilă.
965 reviews122 followers
May 27, 2018
Doctor Who is magic. It isn't always a particularly *good* TV show. It can be too silly at times, or too boring at other times - or entirely underwhelming, particularly when you want to introduce your friends to it and you sit in your chair and think "oh, dear lord, they'll think I'm a nerd now and no mistake".

But then your friends love it anyway and you're bewildered and grateful about it. For some reason, they got it. They fell in love with the idea of a madman traveling around space and time in a blue box, saving the world not through fighting the bad guys through sheer, raw firepower, but by bluffing, cleverness and attempts to make everyone's lives better. There's just so much power in that.

And then you find out that the Doctor is a Time Lord and that means he has two hearts and he can regenerate into a new body when he dies, but he's always different - still mad, and fun, and clever, but so very different.

"Shada" is about the Doctor's fourth incarnation, pictured above. In 1979, the Doctor arrives in Cambridge, where an old friend of his, the Professor, is living out the last of his decades in peace, reading and making tea (there is an abnormally large amount of tea brewed in this book). He may or may not have sent an emergency distress signal, and the Doctor came running, only to discover that a very powerful artefact (a very powerful book, to be precise) fell into the hands of Skagra, who wants to take over the world and remake it in his own image.

Cue a lot of silliness, cleverness and running around.

The novel is based on Douglas Adams' script for the Doctor Who show, but a script that was only partly produced before it was cancelled. Gareth Roberts explains at the end that he reworked Douglas Adams' script to make more sense and to tie up loose ends. I have no idea what he did, precisely, because I don't know the original script - but the story makes sense and really works from the narrative point of view.

I was less impressed with the characters and the atmosphere - they aren't bad, but they feel a bit underdeveloped. Still, it's a good book if you're a Doctor Who fan and know your way around the universe (pun not intended), even if your knowledge is based, like mine, on the revived series launched in the 21st century.
Profile Image for ▫️Ron .
271 reviews
July 4, 2022
Gareth Roberts made a serious effort to do something that is rarely done - he rescued a manuscript from a set of bizarre circumstances and managed to set in type a definitive edition of a story from one of Doctor Who's most celebrated eras, by one of science fiction and comedic writing's most celebrated writers. The project was destined to fail on several fronts (the nail in the coffin being a strike at the BBC studios during its production) - and it has since been brought back to life in two or three mediums (and not very well, for the most part). Adams, of course, had died by the time all-things-Doctor Who were getting the global fame they always deserved. Roberts believes he's connected threads that he was able to excavate to present the work as Adams would have liked to.

I liked it a lot. This is the Doctor's voice, for me. Romana and K-9 also handled at their best. Those things are absolutely enough for me - but wait, there's more! Some truly innovative and fun playing around with Time Lords, ancient secrets, and tropes pushed to cartoonish levels for that "this is the ultimate" feeling. That feeling also leaves me feeling that I don't need to see those tropes done anymore... which isn't necessarily a great feeling. Once you've seen an ultimate episode of your favorite show - it's all downhill from there. That's what ultimate means, after all.

One bizarre thing that, for the life of me, I can't say is intentional - but it seems so very intentional - - Clara, in modern DW, was sent into The Doctor's timeline to help out in critical areas. Split up into dozens of variants and always showing up at the right time. That's a weighty proposition, and I'm not fond of it. Let the characters of the relevant eras carry their own weight, you know? BUT - the Clare in this book feels so much like Clara that I seriously wonder about the chicken and egg prospect. Did Steven Moffat base Clara on Clare, or did Douglas Adams (mostly Gareth Roberts on this character - his having said she wasn't fleshed out by DA) inspire Moffat? Ah, Doctor Who.

It took me forever to finish. I think that's because it's like eating a very sweet candy - I can't handle a lot of it at one sitting. I can't figure out if that's a good or bad thing, so I dropped to 4 stars - assuming that if it were a great thing, I'd have read the book in a sitting. But I could be wrong.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,892 reviews1,211 followers
November 15, 2013
I don’t often read novels set in my favourite television or cinematic universe any more. I have fond memories of when I was much younger, and I had the time and freedom to virtually camp out in the library, of borrowing whatever Star Trek novels they happened to have available that day. After I became more comfortable with original SF and fantasy, I started to shy away from media tie-in novels. As I grew up and started to follow those television series with more interest, I found it difficult to enjoy the books, because I couldn’t visualize the actors from the show doing and saying what the characters in the books did and said. And for me, the actors are an integral part of realizing those characters. It’s the same reason I’ve eschewed the Buffy, Angel, and Firefly spin-off comics.

In the case of Doctor Who: Shada, I bought this for my roommate’s birthday, knowing she would enjoy it. This is a curious novel, because it is technically a novelization, but owing to industrial action and other production issues, the script itself never finished shooting. So this novel is all we really have of a story that was originally created for television. It’s set in the era of the Fourth Doctor, as portrayed by Tom Baker, with Romana II and K-9 still gallivanting around the galaxy, ostensibly on the run from the Time Lords and the Black Guardian. I’ve seen a few stories from the Tom Baker era, and maybe this unfamiliarity with the characters helped me get over my apprehension of tie-in books. It also helps that Shada was originally written by Douglas Adams, one of my favourite authors. And until I get to watch the Doctor Who stories he wrote, this is the closest I get to seeing Adams’ Doctor Who.

Shada is unmistakably Adamsian in its humour and plotting. Gareth Roberts has done a fantastic job assembling a cogent story from a script, preserving the flavour of Adams’ humour while expanding the plot and characters into something approaching a novel. The Doctor and Romana arrive on Earth in the early 1980s in response to a distress call from a fellow Time Lord, the ancient and befuddled Professor Chronotis (groan at the name), who has retired to Earth and been living at Cambridge University for the past few centuries. Chronotis took a book with him from Gallifrey, a powerful book that could be very dangerous in the wrong hands—which, apparently, is what will happen if the Doctor and Romana don’t act fast. But the book has already found its way into the possession of a young physics graduate student, who is unaware of its alien origins or the fact that a megalomaniacal villain is on his way to steal the book at any cost.

As the plot unfolds, Roberts jumps from character to character, sometimes following the Doctor, Romana, Chris Parsons, etc. Much like in the show, it soon becomes apparent that the Doctor always seems to be teetering between not having a plan and having an incredibly brilliant, complicated plan that will most likely go horribly wrong. It seems like he himself is continuously surprised by his ability to get into (and out of) trouble. The Fourth Doctor is definitely the right Doctor for Douglas Adams, because Tom Baker’s mad, scarf-toting Doctor sounds like something straight out of Hitchhiker’s. They were made for each other, as this story showcases.

Shada also provides some interesting tidbits and insight into Time Lord history and society that might not always be apparent from the TV show. Romana, as another Time Lord, is a very interesting companion and a departure from the Doctor’s previous, human companions. In Shada, it sometimes seems like there are Time Lords running around all over the place. But it was nice to see the Doctor, Romana, and Professor Chronotis discussing and arguing about Gallifreyan history and its relevance to their particular problem. As a fan who came to the show through new Who, and hence as someone who hasn’t spent much time on Gallifrey, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

The story itself is lovely. The villain is not so much over-the-top as he is capable to the point of absurdity. In fact, aside from his delusions of God-like grandeur, I’d argue Skagra doesn’t truly tip over the brink of insanity until he tangles with the Doctor. It’s not until the Doctor starts undermining Skagra’s vision by taunting him about getting “that mad gleam in your eye” that Skagra finds his atavistic desires to crush the Doctor too strong to resist. That the Doctor proves rather difficult to kill only exacerbates this problem, eventually pushing Skagra over the edge from cool customer to James Bond–like supervillain.

If you like Doctor Who and have some familiarity with the older show, I’d recommend this without reservation. It is, essentially, a “lost”, unmade episode from the Tom Baker era. If you like the show but haven’t seen the Fourth Doctor, haven’t met Romana or K-9 or learned much about the wider world of the Time Lords, then I’d be more hesitant to point you in the direction of Shada. You might like it, but there is also much in here that would be confusing to the newcomer.

I’m not going to be rushing out to buy more Doctor Who novelizations or even original stories; I’ll stick with my DVDs for now. As far as tie-in novels go, though, Shada is an example of how to do it right. Roberts does justice to Adams’ particular brand of storytelling genius, and both of them do a fine job of delivering yet another exciting adventure with the Doctor.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Profile Image for Mike.
511 reviews130 followers
September 22, 2012
In the past (thank you WGBH) I had the chance to watch Dr. Who. By the time I learned of it, the programme was more than a decade old and Tom Baker was taking over the role of the Doctor. I remember thinking that the whole concept was brilliant and ludicrous in roughly equal parts. Given its small budget, the often cheesy effects were tempered by the imagination of the writers and the fun that obviously was designed in. Dr. Who was a Children’s program yes, but one that did not pamper the audience nor treat them as infants.

Fast-forward a long, long time (let’s put it this way; entire start systems have come & gone) and I have had the pleasure of seeing some of the revival episodes in DVD. With the evolution of CGI the effects are much better and the stories and acting remain quite good. Kudos to David Tenant for challenging Tom Baker as my all-time favourite Doctor.

I was just in the middle of “The Grotesque” when I saw this book beckoning me from a display stand. I knew that “Shada” had been in production when a BBC strike halted filming and snippets of it had been used in the later episode, “The Five Doctors”. Looking for something a little less somber to follow on after the uplifting prose of Mr. McGrath, I hesitated only a few milliseconds before taking it home.

“Shada” is a bit longer and more elaborate than many of the other Dr. Who novelisations. I realize that it was intended to be a 6-episode story, but the novelization is in many ways more “complete” than those of 6- or 8-parters written in the aforementioned youth of the universe. Even with the current length, it’s not a standalone story. If you know nothing about the Doctor, the era of “The Key of Time”, et cetera, then you will probably be disappointed. But only just a little. Mr. Roberts does a bang up job of filling in a lot of background in unobtrusive and easily digested ways.

As far as Doctor Who stories go, it’s pretty good. There’s the arch-villain, a genial old Cambridge professor, a pair of bright but clueless humans that get turned into Companions, Romanadvoratrelundar (aka “Romana”), and a couple of dark, dirty secrets from the Time Lord’s past. The plot has a few decent twists and turns, while the characters (as usual) are a bit overdrawn. The dialogue flow pretty well and even the megalomaniac is amusing (although how some of the nuances would have played out on screen is difficult to imagine.)

The author clearly worked to develop this into a decent book. The afterword details how he used a variety of the original scripts in order to bring the story to a more polished state. I had no idea that the original filmed version of “Shada” with additional narration by Tom Baker had been released on video. Someday it might be interesting to see how the two differ.

If you are not a fan of Dr, Who (in any incarnation) than I suspect you will consider this a mediocre effort (maybe a 3-star rating). On the other hand, those that have or do enjoy the series will admire the “missing” episode for adding to our lore. As I wrote earlier, this is a better-than-average novelisation and it was as fun as I remember the programme to be: 4 stars.

PS: The British spellings are deliberate. Just a touch of homage.

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