Starship Titanic & The Doctor Who Christmas Special

Rob explores the link between Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic, and the upcoming Doctor Who episode, Voyage of the Damned

Voyage of the Damned: inspired by Adams?

If anyone has been watching BBC TV this weekend they would have undoubtly have seen the new promo for the Christmas Doctor Who (on at 6.50 on Christmas Day by the way, and running to just over 70 minutes).

As well as seeing the welcome return to our screens of Mr Tennant, and with a glimpse of Kylie Minogue, we also get a very nice CG shot of the exterior of where the episode will be set – namely on the Titanic. And instead of bashing into icebergs, the ship is actually seen traveling through space Now for those old enough to remember and to love the work of the late, great Douglas Adams, they will no doubt be aware of his involvement with Doctor Who in the late 1970s and early 80s. He worked on  numerous scripts for the show that included The Pirate Planet, City of Death, and of course the the legendary ‘lost’ story Shada. He was also an editor during the seventeenth season, and had written unflimed scripts such as Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, that went into his Hitchhikers series, as well as his Dirk Gently’s books.

So it’s interesting that with all these link between Adams and Who that we get to see another of his ideas on screen in the form of a space-based version of the Titanic. Although not as well know as Hitchhikers, Starship Titanic was a computer game released in 1998 by Adams and Digital Village, and was an RPG that had players maneuvering around a space-based replica of the famous ship. Filled with Adams-isms such as a Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure, the game and subsequent book was crammed with familiar pseudo-science, insane logic and all the other constructive uses of language, matter and – well – life, the universe and everything people liked from his previous work.

So the interesting thing to look our for on Christmas day will be if Mr Adams will be credited for inspiring this episode? It’s unlikely that somebody has also had such a similar idea, and with the current Who crew being as passionate as the fans about the show, they are bound to know the history and involvement Adams has had. So will the new show be a homage to Adams? A take on his ideas? Or a blatant rip -off? Will Adams or his estate get thanks for the idea..?

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Well I don’t know, but we only have to wait a fortnight to find out. But if Russell T Davies and co don’t in some way acknowledge where the initial idea came from I can guarantee that there will be a lot of fans out there that will, and of course will fill the boards and talk-backs of the web with their opinions of the entire thing.

Which, to be fair, is bound to happen anyway…