This is a Doctor Who story that never was. The story concerns a old teacher of the Doctor's from Gallifrey who is now a professor at Oxford. It was a fourth Doctor story (played by Tom Baker) and his assistant at the time was the post-"Key to Time" Romana (played by Lalla Ward).

I believe that the Shada of the Title is a Gallifreyan Prison Planet.

Shada was never completed due to a strike of studio technicians that caused the cancellation of the final studio filming session.

It should have been the last story of season 17 and would have made a much stronger season finale than "Horns of the Nimon". Although it would not have taken a lot of work to complete the story it was not finished. The rumour is that the new producer (John Nathan-Turner who produced all the remaining series on the BBC) did not want to start his run on the program with someone else's story.

The script for this story was written by Douglas Adams (of Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame). He recycled a lot of the ideas for his novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

There is a VHS tape of the story available with voice over etc. in the place of the missing material (a lot of the effects shots were never done either).

Footage from the story was used in the story "The Five Doctors" when Tom Baker could not appear himself.

Doctor Who
Shada

The lost adventure by Douglas Adams
Novelization by Gareth Roberts
Ace Books, 2012


There have recently been a number of reworkings of Douglas Adams' stories and reincarnations of his unfinished works, and with the unabated popularity of Doctor Who it was almost inevitable that the never-used script for one of Adams' Doctor Who stories would be made into a novel. This was originally a set of six episodes that were killed due to a BBC strike in 1979; Gareth Roberts has fleshed it out a bit to address some incomplete subplots, but is largely true to the original scripts.

So we are sent back to the days of the Fourth Doctor, Romana, and K9, right at the end of season 17. The Doctor responds to a call for assistance from a retired Time Lord, only to find that that being, an ancient of the name Chronotis, has no recollection of sending this call out. Or perhaps he does -- he can't quite recall. He's getting on a bit, and the old memory isn't quite what it was. Either way, it calls for a good cup of tea and some biscuits, and then some serious investigation.

Unbeknownst to pretty much all parties concerned, a young undergraduate at Cambridge University, Chris Parsons, has unwittingly absconded with a mysterious tome. This is not just any mysterious tome, however! It is a lost treasure of Gallifrey, and one with powers unknown even to the Doctor himself. This is discovered at approximately the same time as a dangerous psychopath with plans to take over the universe appears in Cambridge and starts killing people. Wacky high jinks ensue.

Although I have very limited exposure to the older episodes of Doctor Who, this novel seems to me to be very true to the spirit of the show. It is very much a light-hearted space opera of the classic sort, with grandiose villains, ancient civilizations of immense power but limited bauplans and sharing a very limited aesthetic, and pumped full of an overabundance of plot reversals and deus ex machina. The voice of Douglas Adams is apparent, although a bit diluted.

As long as you approach this as an homage to 1970s science fiction television (and Douglas Adams!), this is good fun. But because this is what it is, it has the expected failings -- a very two-dimensional villain, a lot of handwavium, and plots constrained by an old-fashioned idea of what science fiction is. However, this is overall a fun read, and I recommend it to any fan of Douglas Adams, Doctor Who, or classic science fiction.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.