(2019) Neil Gaiman, Headline, £20, hrdbk, xiii + 491pp, ISBN 978-1-472-26125-0
Before he died in 2015, Terry Pratchett asked Neil Gaiman to make a television series of the internationally beloved novel they wrote together about the end of the world.
And so, Neil began to write. And continued to write until he had six episodes that brought an angel, Aziraphale, and a demon, Crowley, (the only things standing between us and the inevitable Armageddon) to life for the screen.
Contained between the covers of this book are the scripts that Neil wrote, which later turned into some of the most extraordinary television ever made. Take a tour behind the scenes with a text that reveals the secrets of the show, still has the missing bits and, sometimes, asks for the impossible. Step backstage and see the magic for yourself. You may just learn as much from the scenes that never made the final cut as from those that did.
The Quite Nice and Fairly Accurate Good Omens Script Book contains much that is new and revelatory and even several scenes that are not actually in the final television series.
Well, how do you review a script book? Neil Gaiman has spent most of his life writing script-like… well, scripts for his many comic and graphic novels so he is well versed in the format, not forgetting his involvement in the TV series Doctor Who, and the recent TV version of his epic novel American Gods, so he knows his way around a script, but I’ve heard that part of the art of comic writing is not to be too detailed, and let the artist do their thing. Likewise, a TV or movie script should give the director room to direct, and the actors room to act. These scripts are almost the opposite to those pieces of advice as they are full of stage directions, and observations and witty asides, as well as a few running jokes. Pratchett was the king of the footnote throughout his Discworld novels, to deliver a witty aside or a terrible pun. Gaiman doesn’t need footnotes for his humour to shine through. He obviously had great fun writing this, despite the various pressures he was under, and the reader can look forward to having a lot of fun reading it.
Clearly, a book isn’t a TV series and things that work on the page might not work on the screen. Gaiman in his introduction explains that not everything he wrote made it on to the screen due to timing and budgetary constraints. In fact, after the final episode comes to an end, we get the script for a deleted scene featuring those “other” Four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and very funny it is too, but sadly the budget needed trimmed as did the schedule and all that remains of what might have been are Gaiman’s words.
There are no doubt some fans of the original novel written by Gaiman and the late, great, Sir Terry Pratchett, who enjoyed watching all six episodes of the TV series, and that was enough for them, but there are the completists out there, the Gaiman fans who will want to buy this, because this is very much a Gaiman book, even though it is in script form. His voice rings through on every page, and no Gaiman fan should be without it. Great fun, and highly recommended.
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