The classic ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘City Of Death’, which was written by the late Douglas Adams in the space of a weekend is to get a lengthier retelling via a novelization from author James Goss.
The story is considered a classic by many ‘Doctor Who’ fans and it featured the Doctor and Romana being drawn into a mystery while holidaying in Paris.
The story when originally aired in 1979 was watched by over 16 Million Viewers. The story starred Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana.
The script was produced at breakneck speed and represents a “hair-whitening display of Adams’s ingenuity”, according to the writer’s biographer, Jem Roberts. Adams was working as script editor on the 17th series of Doctor Who when it emerged one Friday that there was no script for a four-episode shoot due to begin the following Monday.
Adams was drafted in by the producer to work on a storyline left unfinished by one of the show’s writers, David Fisher, due to family problems. According to Roberts, Adams recalled how the producer “took me back to his place, locked me in his study and hosed me down with whisky and black coffee for a few days, and there was the script”.
Now Goss, who has written two ‘Doctor Who’ novels and produced a BBC radio adaptation of ‘Shada’, an unfinished Adams Doctor Who story published as a book in 2012, is turning the work into a novel, out in May.
“It’s a book Douglas Adams was supposed to write,” he said. “In the 80s, they wrote to him, and asked if he would like to write [his scripts] as novels – they even said they’d pay double. But he thanked them politely, and declined, and used his ideas in other books.”
Goss admitted to “slight performance anxiety” when taking on the work of the late, much-loved writer. “I knew people would be looking and saying: ‘Well, it’s not going to be as good as what he’d have written’ … But in a way it was great, because I knew that every decision I’d make would be wrong,” he said. “When you’re essentially ghost-writing, and for someone as good as Douglas Adams, you know readers will say: ‘That’s not how Adams would have done it.’ It took a lot of pressure off.”
As a fan of this story I’d love to see what James Goss comes up with in the way of back story for many of the characters. Especially the count, who to this day when I watch the story still has me as intrigued as he did back in 1979 when I first seen the episode.