Shada (Doctor Who)
|108.5 – Shada|
|Doctor Who serial|
|Directed by||Pennant Roberts (original)|
Charles Norton (2017 version)
|Written by||Douglas Adams|
|Script editor||Douglas Adams|
|Produced by||Graham Williams (original)|
John Nathan-Turner (1992 version)
Charles Norton (2017 version)
|Incidental music composer||Keff McCulloch (1992 version)|
Mark Ayres (2017 version)
|Running time||137 minutes (feature length) (Final 2017 completed version)|
|First broadcast||18 July 2018 (USA)|
(originally planned broadcast date: 19 January 1980 )
|Last broadcast||18 July 2018 (USA)|
(originally planned broadcast date: 23 February 1980 )
Shada is a story from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Written by the series' script editor Douglas Adams, it was intended as the final serial of the 1979–80 season (season 17) but was never originally completed, owing to strike action at the BBC during studio recording. Entering production as a six-part story (6 x 25-minute episodes) in 1979, plans were later revised for the story to be broadcast as a four-part story (4 x 25-minute episodes) in 1980. Ultimately however, the story would never be completed in either format and would eventually be broadcast as a feature length 'TV Movie' in 2018.
The BBC released a completed version of Shada in 2017, with missing dialogue newly recorded by the original cast, using the same audio equipment employed in the initial shoot, and animated by the team that undertook the reconstruction of the 1966 serial The Power of the Daleks. A new version with enhanced animation was released on 20 December 2021, as part of a Season 17 Blu-ray boxset.
Previous attempts to present the story include a narrated reconstruction for BBC Video; a re-imagined audio play by Big Finish Productions, also offered with basic Flash imagery on BBCi and the BBC's Doctor Who website; and a novelisation by Gareth Roberts, based on the latest shooting scripts, with the author's own additions.
The Fourth Doctor answers a distress signal from Professor Chronotis, a Time Lord posing as a professor at St Cedd's College, Cambridge who loaned a Gallifreyan tome to his student Chris Parsons. The Doctor retrieves the book while Chronotis dies after his mind was extracted by the sphere of a mad scientist named Skagra, living long enough to warn Romana, K9 and Parsons of them and Shada. The Doctor locates Skagra's cloaked spacecraft, only for his companions to be captured while Skagra has his sphere extract the Doctor's mind to decode the book before taking Romana in the TARDIS to his carrier ship and Krarg creations. But the Doctor survived his ordeal with his mind intact and has the ship's computer release Chris and K9 and take them to a space station Skagra previously occupied. The group find Skagra's discarded colleagues and learn he is after a Time Lord named Salyavin.
Back on Earth, Clare Keightley accidentally revives Chronotis whose chambers are revealed as a TARDIS, the Professor explaining the book is a key to the prison planet Shada where Salyavin is held. Chronotis and Clare repair the TARDIS to reach Skagra's carrier, saving the Doctor and Chris after Skagra decoded the book and revealed his intent to absorb Salyavin's mind and use its telepathy to unite all life into a single Universal Mind.
The group reach Shada as Skagra releases the prisoners, and Chronotis is revealed as Salyavin with Skagra extracting his mind and turning the prisoners and Chris into his thralls. Reminded that the Universal Mind contains a copy of his brain, the Doctor builds a telepathy helmet to wrestle control from Skagra while the Krarg are destroyed. Skagra ends up a prisoner in his own ship while the Doctor returns the restored prisoners to Shada and parts ways with Chronotis, musing over Chronotis' exploits being exaggerated while expecting a similar treatment within two centuries.
Originally, writer Douglas Adams presented a wholly different idea for the season's six-part finale, involving the Doctor's retirement from adventuring. Facing resistance from producer Graham Williams, Adams chose to avoid work on a replacement, under the expectation that time pressures would eventually force the producer's hand and allow his idea to be used. Ultimately, however, Williams forced Adams to conceive a new story as a last-minute replacement, which became Shada.
Under its original remit, Williams intended the story as a discussion about the death penalty, specifically how a civilisation like the Time Lords would deal with the issue and treat its prisoners.
As composed by Adams, the story was scheduled to span six 25-minute episodes. Location filming in Cambridge and the first of three studio sessions at BBC Television Centre were completed as scheduled; however, when the scheduled second studio block was due to start, it fell foul of a long-running technicians' dispute at the BBC. The strike was over by the onset of rehearsals for the third recording session, but ultimately the studio time was redirected to other higher-priority Christmas programming, leaving the serial incomplete.
Following the departure of Williams from the role of producer, attempts were made by new producer John Nathan-Turner to remount the story; for various reasons, however, this never transpired. Consequently, in June 1980, the production was formally dropped. It is estimated that only 50% of the story was filmed.
After the production halt, Adams expressed a low opinion of the script and was content to let it remain obscure, turning down offers to adapt the story in various forms. He once claimed that when he had signed the contract allowing the script's 1992 release (accompanying the serial's VHS reconstruction), it had been amongst a pile of papers sent over by his agent, and that he was unaware of what he was agreeing to.
In 1983, footage from Shada was used in The Five Doctors, the 20th Anniversary special. Tom Baker, the fourth actor to play the Doctor, had declined to appear in the special, and the plot was reworked to explain the events in the scenes.
1992 VHS reconstruction
A decade after the serial's abandonment, John Nathan-Turner set out to complete the story, in a fashion, by commissioning new effects shots and a score, and having Tom Baker record linking material to cover the missing scenes. The resulting shortened episodes (of between 14 and 22 minutes each) received a 111-minute VHS release in 1992. In its UK edition, the VHS was accompanied by a facsimile of a version of Douglas Adams's script. The release was discontinued in the UK in 1996.
This VHS reconstruction, the 2003 BBCi/Big Finish adaptation, and the 1994 documentary More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS, were re-released together on DVD on 7 January 2013 as The Legacy Collection (UK) or simply Shada (North America).
|Episode||Title||Run time||Original air date||UK viewers|
|1||"Part One – 1992 Version"||24:34||Unbroadcast – Finished episode would have aired 19 January 1980||n/a|
|2||"Part Two – 1992 Version"||17:56||Unbroadcast – Finished episode would have aired 26 January 1980||n/a|
|3||"Part Three – 1992 Version"||17:29||Unbroadcast – Finished episode would have aired 2 February 1980||n/a|
|4||"Part Four – 1992 Version"||17:43||Unbroadcast – Finished episode would have aired 9 February 1980||n/a|
|5||"Part Five – 1992 Version"||14:11||Unbroadcast – Finished episode would have aired 16 February 1980||n/a|
|6||"Part Six – 1992 Version"||17:43||Unbroadcast – Finished episode would have aired 23 February 1980||n/a|
2017 animated restoration
On 24 November 2017, an effort to complete the serial officially, using newly recorded dialogue from the original cast (using the serial's original recording engineer and audio equipment), and new animated footage to complete the missing segments, was released as a digital download; DVD and Blu-ray releases followed on 4 December that year, in Region 2. The new sequences were animated by the same team that undertook the 2016 animated edition of the 1966 serial The Power of the Daleks, including director Charles Norton, with lead character art by Martin Geraghty, character shading by Adrian Salmon, props by Mike Collins, and background art by Daryl Joyce.
A two-disc Region 1 DVD release was originally set to be made available on 9 January 2018; this was later postponed in the US and Canada to 4 September that year. The serial was released on 10 January 2018 in Region 4.
2021 animated restoration
Season 17 of Doctor Who was released on Blu-ray on 20 December 2021 as part of the Collection series, including a new version of Shada with enhanced animation. Whereas the 2017 version was only available in omnibus form, the new version was presented in the form of six separate episodes.
|Big Finish Productions audio drama|
|Written by||Douglas Adams, Gary Russell|
|Directed by||Gary Russell|
|Produced by||Gary Russell|
|Release date||December 2003|
Big Finish audio play and web animation (2003)
In 2003, the BBC commissioned Big Finish Productions to remake Shada as an audio play which was then webcast in six episodic segments, accompanied by limited Flash animation, on the BBC website using illustrations provided by comic strip artist Lee Sullivan (comics). The play stars Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana. The audio play was also broadcast on digital radio station BBC7, on 10 December 2005 (as a 21⁄2-hour omnibus), and was repeated in six parts as the opening story to the Eighth Doctor's summer season, which began on 16 July 2006.
The webcast version (originally broadcast via BBCi's "Red Button") remains available from the BBC Doctor Who "classic series" website and an expanded audio-only version is available for purchase on CD from Big Finish. This expanded version was the one broadcast on BBC7.
Tom Baker was originally approached to reprise the role of the Doctor, but declined. The Eighth Doctor was then substituted and the story reworked accordingly.
Portions of the Big Finish version were reworked by Gary Russell to make the story fit into Doctor Who continuity. This included a new introduction, and a new explanation for the Fourth Doctor and Romana being "taken out of time" during the events of The Five Doctors: the Eighth Doctor has come to collect Romana and K9 because he has begun to have a feeling that there was something they should have done at that time.
When Skagra is investigating the Doctor, clips from three other Big Finish productions can be heard, exclusively on the CD version – The Fires of Vulcan, The Marian Conspiracy and Phantasmagoria. The original serial was to have used clips from The Pirate Planet (1978), The Power of Kroll (1978–79), The Creature from the Pit (1979), The Androids of Tara (1978), Destiny of the Daleks (1979), and City of Death (1979).
In Episode 2 of the webcast version, when Chris is in his lab showing Clare the book, a vending machine-like object in the background is labelled "Nutrimat", a reference to a similar device in Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Two other references are a sequence where Skagra steals a Ford Prefect and when images of Hitchhiker's Guide characters appear as inmates on Shada itself.
Ian Levine animated version (2011)
In 2010, Ian Levine funded an unofficial project to complete the original Shada story using animation and the original voice actors, minus Tom Baker and David Brierley, to complete the parts of the story that were never filmed. John Leeson would replace Brierley as the voice of K9, and Paul Jones (better known as a studio carpenter) would replace Tom Baker as the Doctor. The completed story was finished in late 2011 and announced by Levine, via his Twitter account, on 8 September 2011. J. R. Southall, writer for the science fiction magazine Starburst, reviewed the completed version at Levine's invitation and scored it 10 out of 10 in an article published on 15 September 2011. The completed Levine version appeared on torrent sites over two years later, on 12 October 2013.
Novelisation and audio book (2012)
|Series||Doctor Who novelisations|
|15 March 2012|
Elements of the story were reused by Adams for his novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, in particular the character of Professor Chronotis who possesses a time machine. Adams did not allow Shada, or any of his other Doctor Who stories, to be novelised by Target Books. It is, therefore, one of only five serials from the 1963–1989 series not to be novelised by Target – along with Adams' other stories The Pirate Planet and City of Death, plus Eric Saward's two Dalek stories (Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks).
A six-part adaptation of the story by Jonathan V. Way appeared in issues 13–18 of Cosmic Masque, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society's fiction magazine. Adams granted permission for the adaptation on condition that it was never published in collected form.
BBC Books published a novelisation of this serial on 15 March 2012, written by Gareth Roberts. Roberts drew on the latest versions of the scripts available, as well as adding new material of his own to "fix" what he viewed as various plotholes and unanswered questions. Nicholas Pegg, in his review of the book for Doctor Who Magazine, heartily praised it, calling it a "successful duet".
AudioGo released an unabridged audiobook of Roberts' novelization on 15 March 2012. Narrated by Lalla Ward, with John Leeson voicing K9, it runs 11 hours and 30 minutes. It was made available for download or on 10 CDs (CD ISBN 978-1-4458-6763-2, Download ISBN 9781445867656). Vanessa Bishop reviewed it favourably for Doctor Who Magazine, singling out Simon E. Power's sound design for special praise.
'I dunno, nowadays they'll publish anything.' Infamous because it was never completed, it was for a long time stated that Shada would have been the highlight of the seventeenth season. What was filmed doesn't quite encourage such optimism. It's a very cheap looking story, and there are lashings of bad puns and dull comedy, including three takes on the 'One lump or two?/Sugar?' joke. Against that, the basic plot is interesting – almost justifying its six episodes, which is rare – and the Cambridge scenes, though stilted, are well executed. It's hugely flawed, but it's a shame that this one was clobbered by a strike and The Creature from the Pit wasn't.
Patrick Mulkern reviewed the 2017 partially reconstructed version for Radio Times, and thought that despite "pockets of magic to enjoy" it was a "sprawling but far-from-epic serial". The humour was repetitive and fell flat, and the action was pedestrian. Mulkern recommended the novelisation by Gareth Roberts as a superior alternative.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to Fourth Doctor.|
- Shada at BBC Online
- Cambridge Time Traveller Group, Article on Shada,
- Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database