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Shada was the intended final story of Season 17 of Doctor Who. However, a combination of rampant inflation in Britain and union strikes prevented its completion. Those parts of the story that were filmed were retained, and John Nathan-Turner was able to reuse them later in two notable ways. In 1983, a few clips of the show were integrated into The Five Doctors when Tom Baker proved unavailable for filming. Later, in 1992, the existing footage was integrated with some new linking narration by Baker. Finally, in 2017, a completed cut was released, including animations of missing scenes narrated by the original actors and even some newly filmed scenes.

Synopsis Edit

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, one such inmate, needs the help of one of the prison's inmates. He finds nobody knows where Shada is anymore except one aged Time Lord who has retired to Earth, where he is a professor at St. Cedd's College, Cambridge. Luckily for the universe, Skagra's attempt to force the information out of Professor Chronotis coincides with a visit by the professor's old friend, the Fourth Doctor.

Plot Edit

Part one Edit

Shada - creation of sphear

The sphere is created.

Shada - room

The Doctor, Chronotis and Romana.

On the Think Tank space station, Doctor Skagra uses a spherical device to drain the minds of his colleagues and departs in his spaceship for Earth, leaving an automated quarantine message running.

In Cambridge 1979, Professor Chronotis has a visit from one of his students, Chris Parsons, who leaves with the wrong book. The Doctor and Romana are enjoying a spot of punting. They're observed by Skagra and distracted by voices from the sphere he's carrying. They visit the professor.

Chris discovers that the book is written in a completely alien script. He analyses the book with instruments that make it smoke and glow. Chronotis reveals to Romana he is an elderly Time Lord who has retired to Earth and has been living in the same Cambridge rooms for three hundred years. The Doctor asks him why he was summoned by him to Cambridge but the Professor can't remember. He later recalls he needs the Doctor's help finding the book.

Skagra steals a car and the driver's ability to drive. The Professor reveals the missing book is one he brought from Gallifrey. Skagra drives out to a field where his spaceship is concealed, invisible to the human eye. The Professor confesses the book he took was The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey, which dates back to the time of Rassilon and has incredible power. Skagra receives word that all is ready from his carrier ship, commanded by a massive Krarg.

Part two Edit

Shada - Timescoop

Chronotis's mind is stolen.

The Doctor and Romana search the Professor's rooms for the book. They discuss Time Lord law. This reminds them of the Time Lord criminal Salyavin, a boyhood hero of the Doctor. The Professor, asked about his contemporary Salyavin, recalls Chris Parsons' visit and wonders if he has borrowed the book by accident.

Chris and his friend Clare Keightley analyse the book as the Doctor cycles across Cambridge to the lab. Skagra, now wearing contemporary clothes, comes to the Professor's college seeking him. While Romana looks in the TARDIS for milk so they can have tea, Skagra arrives for the book. He sets the sphere on the Professor, stealing part of his mind. The Doctor meets Clare at the lab, and examines the book.

Romana and K9 find the collapsed Professor as Chris Parsons arrives. Using the TARDIS medical kit, Romana tries to stabilise the Professor's condition. The Doctor and Clare discover that the book carbon dates as minus twenty thousand years old. Skagra scans his copy of Professor Chronotis' mind for a trace of the book but finds nothing. The professor beats out a message to Romana on his hearts in Gallifreyan morse code, telling her to beware of the sphere, Skagra and Shada, but dies before he can reveal where the secret is.

Skagra meets the Doctor trying to return the book to the Professor and has a sphere pursue him on a bike through Cambridge. During the chase the book is dislodged from his basket and retrieved by Skagra. Forced to run away, the Doctor is cornered by the sphere. He tries to escape under a gate, but the sphere approaches and begins to steal his mind...

Part three Edit

Romana arrives in the TARDIS to rescue the Doctor. They return to Chronotis' rooms, where Chris reports the professor's body disappeared. The Doctor decides he needs to speak with Skagra. K9 tracks the sphere to Skagra's ship. Clare, worried about the danger the book may pose, comes to Chronotis's rooms to find them empty. The TARDIS materialises in an apparently empty field which holds Skagra's invisible ship. They enter and Skagra takes them prisoner. He tells them he was interested only in Chronotis' mind. He tries to force the Doctor to decode the book and sets the sphere on him to take his mind. K9 fails to blast out of the cell Romana, Chris and he are held in. K9 picks up the sphere's signals and detects the Doctor amongst its voices. Romana is transported from the cell and taken to the TARDIS by Skagra. He forces her to take it.

While searching the Professor's rooms for the missing book, Clare finds concealed control panels and accidentally triggers an explosion. The Doctor awakens on the ship and explains to its computer how he survived. The sphere took only a copy of his mind.
Shada - missing room

A stolen room.

Wilkin, the college porter comes to the Professor's rooms. When he opens the door he doesn't find the room but the swirling time vortex. The Doctor tries to persuade the ship to release his companions and him, but it decides the sphere must haves succeeded in its task and killed the Doctor. To conserve resources it turns off the oxygen supply...

Part four Edit

Chris and K9 are transported out of their cell. The ship detects them and reactivates its oxygen supply. The TARDIS arrives at the Krarg carrier ship and Romana sees the Krargs being grown. Another Krarg starts to form on Skagra's ship. The Doctor boosts the ships power to allow it to cross space quickly.

In Professor Chronotis' rooms Clare awakes. She is startled by the Professor, dressed in a night shirt. Skagra is unable to translate the book with the Doctor's mind in the sphere. The Professor explains to Clare that his rooms are his TARDIS and it interfered to save his life.

The Professor decides they must find Skagra to save the book, which is the key to Shada, the Time Lord prison which has been forgotten. The Doctor and Chris are attacked by a Krarg, but K9 holds it off, allowing them to explore the Think Tank complex where they have arrived. They find the aged bodies of Skagra's former colleagues. Skagra notices that turning the pages of the book influences the TARDIS. He realises turning the last page of the book will take him to Shada where he will find the Time Lord criminal Salyavin, who is crucial to his plans.

The Doctor uses Chris' brain power to revive one of the scientists, the neurologist Caldera. He explains how Skagra set up Think Tank to pool the resources of the mind electronically, but when they had completed the sphere he used it to steal their minds. Skagra now intends to use his mind to dominate the whole of humanity, but need Salyavin to accomplish this. K9 loses his fight against the Krarg and is driven into the Think Tank by the massive creature, which now advances on the Doctor...

Part five Edit

The Krarg strikes the machinery in the think tank, creating a huge cloud of smoke. This allows the Doctor, K9 and Chris to escape back to Skagra's ship, leaving just as the Think Tank station explodes. The Ship is persuaded to take the Doctor to Skagra's home.

While trying to repair the Professor's ship Clare asks who Salyavin is.
Shada - hypnotism

The Professor opens into Clare's mind.

The Professor places the knowledge that Clare needs to repair the TARDIS in her head telepathically. Skagra's ship takes the Doctor's ship to the Krarg carrier ship. They are captured and Skagra reveals his plan to take over the universe telepathically, merging them into one mind: his. The Doctor stages an escape with Chris and K9, but Romana is dragged back to the TARDIS by Skagra.

Fleeing down the corridors of the ship the Doctor and company find an old wooden door and go through it. They are in Professor Chronotis' rooms/TARDIS. The Professor knows that with the book and TARDIS that Skagra can travel to Shada, which is exactly what he does. Skagra searches Shada's records for Salyavin, the Time Lord criminal.

The Professor's TARDIS arrives with K9, the Doctor and him. Skagra starts reviving the prisoners as the Doctor arrives, but when they open Salyavin's cell they find it empty. The Professor admits he is Salyavin: he escaped centuries ago and used his powers to make the Time Lords forget about Shada.

The Sphere attacks the Professor but is destroyed by K9. However it reforms into several smaller spheres, one of which attaches itself to the Professor. He sinks to the floor. The spheres attach themselves to the revived prisoners, bringing them under Skagra's control. Chris and Clare arrive, but Chris is taken under the control of a sphere. The prisoners and he advance on the Doctor.

Part six Edit

SaL' tardis 1

The Doctor uses Chronotis' TARDIS to return to his.

K9 fires at the prisoners, driving them back, but he is thrown aside by a Krarg. The Doctor, Romana and Clare grab K9 and flee to the Professor's TARDIS. Romana reminds the Doctor that his mind is inside Skagra's machine too. Skagra returns to the TARDIS and tells the former prisoners that they will return to the carrier ship and be distributed through the universe to further his revolution.

The Doctor follows his TARDIS in the Professor's. He captures it in a force field and has himself placed into the Time Vortex. The Doctor begins crossing to his TARDIS, but his journey appears in vain. An accident occurs in the Professor's TARDIS, deactivating the force field, throwing the Doctor into the vortex.

The Doctor finds himself in a room in his TARDIS. He starts building a helmet shaped device. The Professor's TARDIS arrives on the carrier ship as the Doctor reveals himself and struggles for control of the joint mind.

Romana deactivates the Krarg generating equipment, tipping the gas out and using it to destroy the Krargs. Skagra flees to his ship, but is taken prisoner by his ship's computer, who has now decided to serve the Doctor.

The Doctor promises to return the prisoners to Shada and summon the Time Lords. He returns his and the Professor's TARDISes to Earth. This confuses Wilkin, who has returned with a policeman to find the room back in its usual place and the Professor taking tea with his guests.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor received an honorary degree from St. Cedd's College, Cambridge, in 1960. He visited Professor Chronotis in 1955, 1960 and 1964 in his fourth incarnation, and also in 1958 in a different incarnation.

Planets Edit

  • Dronid is the location of Skagra's homeworld.


Theories and concepts Edit

People from the real world Edit

  • Whilst punting down the river the Doctor rambles to Romana, mentioning Isaac Newton.

Time Lords Edit

Story notes Edit

  • Shada was not completed due to "labour action" at the BBC. The footage that was shot was released on BBC Video in 1992, featuring linking narration by Tom Baker to complete the story.
  • The industrial action occurred due to conflict over which union had jurisdiction over the operation of an elaborate clock that was featured on the BBC children's programme Play School. (DOC: A Matter of Time)
  • Though never broadcast, this story marked the end of the following features of the show from a production standpoint:
    • The 1967 arrangement of the Doctor Who theme by Delia Derbyshire.
    • The tunnel opening sequence by Bernard Lodge and the diamond series logo introduced in TV: The Time Warrior.
    • Graham Williams's tenure as producer; the rest of the show's original run would be produced by John Nathan-Turner.
    • Douglas Adams's tenure as script editor.
    • Dudley Simpson's tenure as incidental music composer.
    • David Brierley as the voice of K9; John Leeson would reprise the role the following season onwards.
    • The Fourth Doctor's multicolour scarf and brown frock coat; the following season would feature the Doctor (in Tom Baker's final season on the show) in a burgundy & purple scarf and a larger burgundy frock coat.
    • The TARDIS prop designed by Barry Newberry; the next nine years of the show's original run would utilise a new, fibreglass prop designed by Tom Yardley-Jones.
    • The use of six-part stories; all future serials would span four parts at most.
  • The story would be remade in 2003 and released as WC: Shada and AUDIO: Shada, explaining that the meddling in the Fourth Doctor's timeline seen in TV: The Five Doctors caused the events following his and Romana's arrival in Cambridge to not take place until the Eighth Doctor and Romana came back to complete them.
  • The story takes place in October 1979. Coincidentally, that is the same month Douglas Adams published his first The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novel. It was also during production that Doctor Who Weekly launched.
  • Aliens expected to appear in the Shada prison cells would perhaps have been a Dalek, a Cyberman and even a Zygon.
  • Douglas Adams later used elements from this story in his novel, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
  • In 2017, a completed version of Shada was finally released, with unfilmed scenes replaced with animation and dialogue recorded by the original cast.

Myths Edit

Filming locations Edit

  • The Backs, River Cam, Cambridge
  • Clare Bridge, River Cam, Cambridge
  • Silver Street, Cambridge
  • Trumpington Street, Cambridge
  • Grantchester Meadows, Grantchester, Cambridgshire
  • Free School Lane, Cambridge
  • Bridge Street, Cambridge
  • Portugal Place, Cambridge
  • Trinity Lane, Cambridge
  • Botolph Lane, Cambridge
  • King's Parade, Cambridge
  • St Edward's Passage, Cambridge
  • High Street, Grantchester
  • Emmanuel College, St Andrew's Street, Cambridge
  • Blackmoor Head Yard, Cambridge
  • Garret Hostel Lane, Cambridge
  • Portugal Street, Cambridge
  • All of the above location filming in Cambridge took place over a period of four days: 15th to 19th October 1979
  • Ealing Television Film Studios (Stage 2), Ealing Green, Ealing
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio TC3), Shepherd's Bush, London

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When Professor Chronotis is attacked by Skagra's sphere in Part Two, his spectacles appear and disappear depending on the camera angle.
  • When Romana rescues the Doctor with the TARDIS, at the beginning of part three, the end of the scarf gets caught in the door. Moments later the TARDIS materialises in the Professor's rooms, but the end of the scarf is no longer hanging out the door.

Home video and audio releases Edit

VHS releases Edit

BBC Video released a version compiling existing footage broken down into the planned six episodes, with linking narration by Tom Baker. The UK release of the video included a booklet containing the full script of the original production; the North American release did not include the booklet. To date, the book has only been included with the VHS release.

DVD releases Edit

On 7 January, 2013, Shada was released in the DVD boxset, The Legacy Collection. It was released with the 90 minute documentary, More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS.

Webcast version Edit

Main article: Shada (webcast)

The BBC commissioned Big Finish to write and record a new version as part of the 40th anniversary. It was animated with a limited Flash animation and released on the BBC's website. This version was revised to feature Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor, along with Lalla Ward and John Leeson voicing their original characters.

An extended audio version of the webcast was later released on CD by Big Finish Productions. The original version of the webcast was also included as a DVD-ROM bonus item in the 2013 Legacy Collection DVD release of Shada.

Novelisations Edit

  • No official novelisation of Shada was ever published by Target Books as they were unable to come to an agreement with Douglas Adams that would have allowed him, or another author, to adapt the story. However, the short scene used in The Five Doctors was novelised for its adaptation.
  • Douglas Adams reused some of the elements of Shada in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, notably the character of Professor Chronotis, his time-travelling apartment, and St. Cedd's college.
  • A fan novelisation (by the New Zealand Fan Club) is available online. (Doctor Who and Shada by Paul Scoones).
  • In early 2011, BBC Books announced that Gareth Roberts had been commissioned to write an official novelisation of Shada, for release in hardback in March 2012. Its publication follows an the agreement with the estate of Douglas Adams and is the first novelisation of a regular TV Doctor Who story since 1994.[6] This novelisation was also released as an audiobook read by Lalla Ward and John Leeson. An ebook was also released on the Amazon Kindle store.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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