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TDP 239: Shada Book Review
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For the United States Navy ship, see USS Shada (SP-580); for the Arabic emphasis sign, see Shadda; for the village in Azerbaijan, see Şada.
Doctor Who Serial
Shada, the prison planetoid of the Time Lords.
Writer Douglas Adams
Director Pennant Roberts (original)
Script editor Douglas Adams
Producer Graham Williams (original)
John Nathan-Turner (video)
Production code 5M
Series Season 17
Length Incomplete (original)
6 episodes, 25 minutes each (intended)
Originally broadcast Unaired (original)
6 July 1992 (video release)[1]
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Horns of Nimon The Leisure Hive

Shada is an unaired serial of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was intended to be the final serial of the 1979-80 season (Season 17), but was never completed due to a strike at the BBC during filming. In 1992, its recorded footage was released on video using linking narration by Tom Baker, the Doctor to complete the story.

The script, with adaptions, was later produced by Big Finish Productions as an audio play, with animation and was made available on BBCi and the BBC website in 2003. This version saw Paul McGann take on the role of the Doctor, with Lalla Ward reprising her role as Romana II, with an otherwise different cast.

A novelisation of the story written by Gareth Roberts and returning the action to the Fourth Doctor and Romana was released in March 2012.[2]



The story revolves around the lost planet Shada, on which the Time Lords built a prison for defeated would-be conquerors of the universe. Skagra, an up-and-coming would-be conqueror of the universe, needs the assistance of one of the prison's inmates, but finds that nobody knows where Shada is anymore except one aged Time Lord who has retired to Earth, where he is masquerading as a professor at St. Cedd's College, Cambridge. Luckily for the fate of the universe, Skagra's attempt to force the information out of Professor Chronotis coincides with a visit by the professor's old friend, the Doctor.


  • In an unfilmed scene in Episode 5, a listing of prisoners kept on Shada included a Dalek, a Cyberman, and a Zygon. Instead of these, aliens bearing resemblance to Ice Warriors were seen.
  • In 1983, clips from Shada were 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 clips.[3]
  • In the book, various references are made to past and future Doctor Who. In particular past rebellious Time Lords are mentioned including, the Master, the Rani, the Meddling Monk and Morbius.
  • For the Big Finish version, 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.
  • Although working from the original Adams script, 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 Doctorhas come to collect Romana and K-9 because he has begun to have a feeling that there was something they should have done at that time. In addition to this –
    • Romana is referred to as Madam President by Skagra in Episode 5.
    • In Episode 6 it is Romana, using her Presidential powers, who decides that Chronotis should be allowed to return to Cambridge.
    • When the policeman enters Chronotis' room, the Doctor can be heard talking about a "terrible way to see in the New Year" in a possible reference to that Doctor's first adventure.
    • Various other minor dialogue changes throughout, mostly relating to the Eighth Doctor reflecting that he has missed Romana and K-9 since they left him and how much he enjoyed their company in the past.
  • 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, The Power of Kroll, The Creature from the Pit, The Androids of Tara, Destiny of the Daleks, and City of Death. The webcast features outlines of the first eight Doctors' faces.


Original television version

The original story, as written by Adams, was scheduled to be 6 episodes. It is estimated that only about 50% of the story was filmed.[2] Location filming in Cambridge and the first of three studio sessions at BBC Television Centre were recorded as scheduled.[2] The second studio block was affected by a long-running technicians' dispute.[3] The strike was over by the time rehearsals began for the third recording session, but this was lost to higher-priority Christmas programming.[4] Attempts were made by new producer John Nathan-Turner to remount the story, but for various reasons it never happened and the production was formally dropped in June 1980.

Nathan-Turner was eventually able to complete the story (so far as was possible) by commissioning new effects shots, a score and having Tom Baker record linking material to cover the missing scenes to create six shortened episodes of between 14 and 22 minutes each. The result was released on video in 1992 as a 111 minute VHS tape, but has never been aired on television—making Shada the only Doctor Who television story never to be broadcast.[2]

Douglas Adams himself did not regard the story highly and was content for it remain permanently unseen in any form. He once claimed that when he had signed the contract allowing the 1992 release, it had been part of a pile of other papers presented to him by his agent to sign and he wasn't fully aware of what he was agreeing to.[5]

Levine animated version

In 2010, Ian Levine decided to fund a 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, impersonating Baker, would replace him as the Doctor.[2] In October 2010, Dan Hall of 2 Entertain confirmed that a DVD release of Shada was in production and intended to release it with another title.[6]

The completed story was finished in late 2011 and announced by Levine, via his Twitter account, on September 8, 2011.[2][7] J. R. Southall, writer for the science fiction magazine Starburst, reviewed Levine's completed version and scored it 10 out of 10 in an article published on September 15, 2011.[8] On October 26, 2011, 2 Entertain announced that only the Shada framgents would be released on DVD, along with the 1993 documentary 'Doctor Who': Thirty Years in the Tardis and other items, possibly sometime in 2012.[9] Southall confirmed the news that same day writing that Dan Hall, 2 Entertain's comissioning editor, was not going to release Levine's completed version.[10]

Big Finish version (2003)

Big Finish Productions audio play
Album cover
Series Doctor Who
Release number II
Featuring Eighth Doctor
Romana II
Writer Douglas Adams, Gary Russell
Director Gary Russell
Producer(s) Gary Russell
Set between Army of Death and
Storm Warning
Length 150
Release date December 2003

The Cast

Broadcast date: 10 December 2005

In 2003, the BBC commissioned Big Finish Productions to remake Shada as an audio play which was then webcast[11][2] in six episodic segments, accompanied by limited Flash animation, on the BBC website using illustrations provided by comic strip artist Lee Sullivan.[12] The play starred Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana. The audio play was also broadcast on digital radio station BBC 7, on 10 December 2005 (as a 212-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.

Lalla Ward (Romana) is the only actor to appear in both the original television version and the subsequent Big Finish remake.

Outside references

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.

In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who – Shada
Writer Gareth Roberts
Publisher BBC Books
Release date 15 March 2012[13]
Preceded by '
Followed by '
Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and Shada
Writer Paul Scoones & Jonathan Preddle
Publisher JPS Books
(unofficial novelisation)
Cover artist Alistair Hughes
Release date March 1989
Preceded by '
Followed by '

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. Douglas Adams granted permission for the adaptation on condition that it was never published in collected form.[14]

A fan group in New Zealand published an unofficial adaptation in 1989, later republishing it as an online eBook titled Doctor Who and Shada.[15]

BBC Books published a novelisation of this serial on 15 March 2012, written by Gareth Roberts. Roberts has drawn on the latest versions of the scripts available, as well as adding new material of his own to "fix" various plotholes and unanswered questions.[16]

VHS, Webcast and DVD releases

VHS release: The original televsion version of Shada was released in 1992 on VHS and featured linking narration by Tom Baker and was accompanied by a facsimile of a version of Douglas Adams's script (except in North America).[2] The release was discontinued in the UK in 1996.

Webcast: 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.

DVD: Ian Levine announced on 8 September 2011 that his personally-funded reconstruction of all six episodes of the serial, using animation and recently-recorded vocal tracks to fill in missing parts of the story, had now been completed.[9][7] However, the animation was rejected by 2Entertain, and it has been announced that the shot footage for the story will be released in 2012 with assorted Doctor Who material, including the 1993 documentary More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS.[9]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (September 23, 2008). "Serial 5M: Shada". A Brief History of Time (Travel). Shannon Patrick Sullivan. Retrieved June 9, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Southall, J. R. (September 12, 2011). Jordan, Royce. ed. "Doctor Who and the Shada Man". Starburst Magazine (London, England). ISSN 0955-114X. OCLC 79615651. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Dicks, Terrance (September 11, 2001). Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (DVD). London, England: BBC. Event occurs at 12:45. OCLC 52906976.
  4. ^ Ley, Shaun (December 12, 2009). "Shelved". BBC Radio 4. BBC. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  5. ^ Simpson, M. J. (2005). Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams. Boston, Massachusetts , US: Justin, Charles & Co.. ISBN 9781932112351. OCLC 144991011.
  6. ^ Wilson, Marcus (October 25, 2010). "DVD News - Seeds of Death Revisited". The Doctor Who News Page. Doctor Who News. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Burk, Graeme (September 16, 2011). "Shadariffic". Doctor Who Blog. Doctor Who Information Network. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  8. ^ Southall, J. R. (September 15, 2011). Jordan, Royce. ed. "Review: Doctor Who 'Shada'". Starburst Magazine (London. England). ISSN 0955-114X. OCLC 79615651. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c McArdell, Ian (October 28, 2011). "What hope Shada?". Regent Times. Alwyn Ash. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  10. ^ Southall, J. R. (October 26. 2011). Jordan, Royce. ed. "TV News: DOCTOR WHO - SHADA Update". Starburst Magazine (London. England). ISSN 0955-114X. OCLC 79615651. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  11. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who - Classic Series - Webcasts - Shada". BBC. BBC. 2003. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
  12. ^ Sullivan, Lee (2008). "Lee Sullivan Art, Doctor Who Webcasts". Lee Sullivan Art. Lee Sullivan. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
  13. ^ "Doctor Who: Shada". Amazon. 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  14. ^ Foster, Chuck (February 13, 2012). "Doctor Who News: Shada". Doctor Who News. News in Time and Space. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  15. ^ Scoones, Paul (2006). "NZDWFC: Doctor Who and Shada". The New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
  16. ^ Berriman, Ian (March 6 2012). "Doctor Who: Adapting Douglas Adams". SFX. Future Publishing Limited.


  • Howe, David J; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James. Doctor Who: The Seventies (1994) (London: Doctor Who Books) ISBN 9781852274443

External links


Fan novelisation


Direct download: shada_book_review.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 5:57am UTC