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Published on October 3rd, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

Gareth Roberts to Adapt City of Death!

If you’re a fan of Gareth Roberts and Douglas Adams, loved the recent adaptation of Shada and have been longing for more, your dreams have been answered: Gareth Roberts is currently working on a novelisation of City of Death!

The 1979 story – which pitted the Doctor and Romana against the time-splintered alien Scaroth of the Jagaroth whose presence on Earth shaped human history – had until now been, like Shada, a victim of Douglas Adams being unable to agree to and schedule an adaptation back in the Target days. But following the success of Shada, Roberts has once again (and deservedly, in our opinion) been handed the task of adapting the popular story which guest starred Julian Glover as Scaroth, Catherine Schell as Countess Scarlioni and Tom Chadbon as Duggan, with John Cleese and Eleanor Bron also making a comedy guest appearance with Tom Baker and Lalla Ward.

Often cited as one of the best serials of the show’s 50 years, we’ve still got to wait until 2014 to read it. Still, might as well pre-order Doctor Who: City of Death by Douglas Adams, adapted by Gareth Roberts from Amazon today, right?


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

16 Responses to Gareth Roberts to Adapt City of Death!

  1. avatar Gareth says:

    I’ve been hoping for this since Shada , can’t wait.

  2. Looking forward to this but don’t buy it from Amazon – they don’t pay their taxes, buy it from your local independent bookshop

    • avatar Al says:

      If they stock it. I’ve been forced to use Amazon here in Canada few times because local retail have refused (not couldn’t get, refused) to stock certain items, including Doctor Who.

  3. avatar Al says:

    Excellent news! They might as well go ahead and announce The Pirate Planet, too. The dream of being able to read the entire classic-era TV canon from An Unearthly Child through to the TV movie is getting closer. Now if only someone could cut a deal with Eric Saward to get his Dalek stories written up.

    • avatar Christine says:

      Yes please, those Dalek stories! Would be really great.

  4. avatar Dave Rudin says:

    Sadly, “City of Death” was the only decent story in the one season for which Douglas Adams served as script editor, which I count among the worst in the show’s long history. (I admit, though, that I have not seen the “Shada” reconstruction.)

    • avatar Al says:

      Yeah, pretty much it’s only saving grace was Tom and Lalla. All the more reason to celebrate City of Death getting its due.

  5. avatar John Miller says:

    While I like Gareth Roberts’ style, it is totally inappropriate for Douglas Adams and Season 17. The Shada book may have been good, but it had nothing to do with Douglas Adams’ original vision, and felt totally anachronistic.

  6. avatar Lozzer says:

    While I love Doc 4 and think parts of TCOD are great, as a whole I’m not that keen. I clearly know how much this story is loved, and I’ve tried to love it. I just can’t. I can see Garath doing a sterling job on it though, I might give it another go.

  7. avatar TonyS says:

    Not sure. I was not over-enamoured of Shada. But I am not sure the original story was the classic it was claimed to be. City of Death on the oher hand…

  8. avatar Ranger says:

    I was never really a fan of Shada, but City of Death is a great story and I am a fan of Gareth Roberts’ writing (I hope he will be the next showrunner), so I am looking forward to this.

  9. avatar Will of the Krotons says:

    I’m rebuilding my collection of Target novelisations so this is very welcome news. However, can I dare hope that an edition of both this and Shada will be released that has a seventies style cover illustration and logo? The trade sized Shada paperback sits awkwardly in my collection!

  10. avatar Simon Magellan says:

    What I’d like to see is a whole new Targeg style range, novelising the new series stories. Anyone who thinks that just because they are more readily available via DVD etc, misses the point of the novelisations – the ability of writers to explore the stories in more depth. It would also help with literacy projects, as it would encourage children to read rather than just watch, and develop their imaginations more.

    • avatar anonymous says:

      Yes, and maybe rerelease the old ones too as we’ll, so we can have novels of the whole series…

      • avatar icewarrior67 says:

        Great news – I love Gareth Roberts writing and his Shada book was excellent.. BUT although CITY OF DEATH has Douglas Adams dialogue all over it – it was originally written by DAVIF FISHER and it was rewritten, with Producer Graham WILLIAMS in Douglas Adams flat in one weekend.. and WILLIAMS wasn’t just sitting in a chair watching ADAMS type.

  11. The thing is, there are already unofficial novelizations of “Pirate Planet,” “City of Death,” “Shada,” “Resurrection of the Daleks,” and “Revelation of the Daleks” from the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club. These had been available for at least some time but are sadly no longer available. They were sold at no profit by the group. As someone who envisions himself a writer, it infuriates me to think that these writers (Paul Scoones, David Lawrence, David Bishop, and Jon Preddle), might not have even been approached by someone of authority about officially publishing their works.

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