REVIEW: Shada audiobook

Shada audio book
Read by Lalla Ward with John Leeson
£19.69 (Download)
£19.35 (10 CDs)
Available Now
Review by Cameron K McEwan

I shan't bore you with the much~repeated story about the production of the Series 17 finale, as you no doubt aware of the woeful tale, and its cancellation. If you don't know, seek the information out (or wait for a cracking documentary on the forthcoming Shada DVD) but the bottom line, if I may use such a vulgar phrase, is that this was a Douglas Adams story that started filming and then stopped. Never completed.

It's had a few productions in the past (a webcast and audio drama for example) but this particular release is the audiobook of the recent Gareth Roberts novelisation. The writer manages successfully not only to capture the mood of the series with The Fourth Doctor and The Second Romana but also apes Adams' style with digital watch~grabbing accuracy. But, I'll leave my praise for the writing for the book review.

Reading the novel is Romana herself (and ex~Mrs Tom Baker), Lalla Ward; and the one~time Time Lady performs the rather Herculean task (over 11 hours!), for the most part, satisfactorily. The actress does a good line in Adams~esque irony, bordering on contemptible sarcasm, and Ward is not unlike a female equivalent of voice of the book in The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy (Peter Jones, fact fans).

Sometimes, however, these deeply ironic tones can come off as sounding just a tad bored; the Honourable Lalla has always seemed rather aloof. She delves into the accents and "impersonations" with gusto though, oddly, her Tom Baker is a bit of a misfire. Her take is blusterous and without his scarved flair (odd as she did spend some considerable time with him).

Most disappointingly, Ward is not allowed the chance to voice K9 - step in John Leeson (the original tin dog). As he has proved over the years, Leeson always nails the pooch expertly.

The production is a magnificent affair with sound effects to assist the tale superbly, capturing the era perfectly and one wonders just how this would have played out if it had been a full cast recording (maybe for the future?). Music cues are also added and, whilst pleasing, don't try to mimic the sounds of the time (possibly a good thing).

Shada, as an audiobook, filters Douglas Adams' style and voice rather wonderfully, evoking the sounds of the Hitchhikers' Guide. Ward, whilst not perfect, does the job stoutly and will keep your ears glued to the, erm, headphones/speakers for quite some time.

Thanks to AudioGo
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