After the novelisations of Douglas Adams’ three Doctor Who stories (‘City of Death’, ‘The Pirate Planet’ and ‘Shada’) have been published successfully over the last few years it was probably inevitable that his un-commissioned script would undergo a similar treatment.
Novelised by James Goss, who did a superb job with ‘City of Death’ and ‘The Pirate Planet’, ‘The Kirkkitmen’ seems to be set somewhere between Tom Baker’s sixth and seventh series as the Doctor. It opens with the Doctor and Romana attending a cricket match at Lords that gets invaded by a group of killer robots intent upon depriving both England and Australia of the Ashes.
This is just the beginning of a madcap, jaunt across space, time and dimensions and a variety of planets with bizarre scenarios as the Doctor, Romana and K-9 endeavour to save all life in the universe from being extinguished by the machinations of some dangerous, insane and highly intelligent foes.
If any of the content or the plot seem familiar that is because they probably are. After the script for ‘The Kikkitmen’ failed to become either a Doctor Who film or a serial it was re-used for ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’. Whereas Adams pulled ideas and elements for his Dirk Gently novels out of ‘Shada’ after its production failed to be completed, the third Hitchhikers novel is essentially ‘The Krikkitmen’ without the Doctor Who elements. Obviously, there are plenty of differences between the two, but, essentially, they are the same plot. Therefore ‘The Krikkitmen’ is a bit like a radical and controversial remix of a famous song that you’re not really sure whether it works or was worth doing but enjoy it anyway.
There is a whole mass of ideas included which sometimes seem a little bit of a mess, but typical of the work of Douglas Adams they all manage to coalesce into a satisfying, coherent whole. Thus, the style and structure reflect the nature of the plot.
Along the way James Goss includes references to Doctor Who after the era of the Fourth Doctor. Most are fun and frivolous and include where the Fifth Doctor got his liking for cricket from presumably and perhaps how Romana gets a taste for being a President/Prime Minister.
Of course, this story didn’t originally feature Romana and K-9 as companions despite them being those associated with Douglas Adams’ time working on the programme. However, they have been re-worked into this novelisation to provide some continuity with the other recent novelisations of Douglas Adams’ Doctor Who. And it works really well. A considerable amount of material comes from the perspective of Romana. It utilises her attitude of frustrated exasperation mixed with admiration towards the Doctor and works as a substitute for Arthur Dent’s relationship with the mad aliens he finds as his companions.
The story was rumoured to have featured Sarah-Jane Smith (interestingly the appendices cover this and other variations). However, it is a little tricky to see how this style of story would have fit tonally into the period where Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes presided over the show. It feels much more suited to the Romana period. Because of this, though, there is a bonus at the end of the book that is a reimagining of the opening of the novelisation featuring Sarah-Jane Smith instead of Romana.
- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: BBC EBURY (12 February 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1785941054
- ISBN-13: 978-1785941054
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.8 x 23.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 658 g
- Customer Reviews: 45 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)