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24 September 2014

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Douglas AdamsI think it was in November 1979 that I became a fan of Douglas Adams. I must already have been aware of his name, having doubtless seen it on the credits of Doctor Who over the previous year or so, but the arrival of the first Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book on my twelfth birthday marked the real epiphany.

I'd missed the original radio series, but I sought it out and devoured it hungrily. I was unaware at the time that in that very same month, production was coming to a premature end on Shada, the last of the Doctor Who stories to be scripted by Douglas Adams.

I remained an avid admirer of Douglas's work throughout his life, and I still can't quite believe that he's no longer here. So when Gary Russell rang me from the Big Finish office last summer and asked me if I'd like to direct a new version of Shada for a BBCi webcast, I was both delighted and alarmed.

Delighted because I had never dreamed I'd get a chance to direct something written by one of my childhood heroes. Alarmed because Douglas Adams is so very precious to me, just as he is to his countless fans across the world. Would it be sacrilegious to update Shada for a new medium and a new Doctor?

When Gary's script arrived, any fears were allayed. He hadn't tampered with the original dialogue or with the spirit of the story. He'd merely inducted Paul McGann's Time Lord into the action, and added the occasional snippet of explanatory dialogue to scenes that were otherwise purely visual.

And it was a great reassurance to know that Douglas Adams's family and also his friend Lalla Ward, who was of course our strongest link with the original 1979 production, were both in full approval of the project. So I said yes!

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