Commissioned as an accompanying piece to the Big Finish audio play remake of the lost Douglas Adam’s serial – the animated Shada was a gloriously lo-fi affair that bridged the gap between the penmanship seen in the DWM comic serials and the fan-based world of online animation.
It legitimised the whole idea of an animated Who adventure and can be seen as a precursor to the alternative Ninth Doctor tale Scream of the Shalka, The Infinite Quest and Dreamland – each of which ran with that initial idea, growing steadily more confident as each technological leap became more widely available.
So why is the BBC neglecting it?
Both the Flash and RealPlayer versions available via the Classic Series site are currently incompatible – sending you briefly into the never world between that site, the new site and the old Russell T. Davies era site.
It’s like those glitches in video games where you drop through the scenery into a strange, disorienting world of broken designs and incomplete models – not a million miles from home but nothing like it at all.
Jeez, all I wanted to do was to see Lee Sullivan’s (2000AD) drawings brought to life once again not be patronised by a Logopolis quote and paternal: “Did you mean to click that?” sarcasm.
I can still read director Nicholas Peggs notes on the Classic Series site about how Paul McGann had a whale of time simulating the sound of his voice juddering as his bicycle rattled down a set of stone steps but can I see the bike rattle along?
It’s sheer laziness to keep the link up: if you can’t honour it, why promise it?
It’s not as if the site wasn’t overhauled recently. There are links to the new BBC Doctor Who site on the old site which from your position, staring into this abandoned place, are reminiscent of those notices on closed down shops telling you where your nearest branch now is.
You might argue that: “Well, you don’t need to see it. The audio play works just as well and it was broadcast itself on BBC Radio 7; so why do you need to see it? Your imagination is a far better tool.”
I’m pretty sure, as noble as the BBC are, that their sole intention for not maintaining this slice of Doctor Who history wasn’t to finally settle the show and tell debate once and for all in favour of your mind’s eye.
It wasn’t as if I had any better luck with the audio only file. The options presented to me were: Do I stick with the BBC site, download RealPlayer, and hope for the best or do I go with my instincts and just watch it on YouTube?
The fact that it was no contest speaks volumes for how neglected this site is and how arrogant that neglect feels.
Many great creators have turned the cancellation of Shada into a gift – they’ve uses their talents along with that alluring ‘what if?’ factor to concoct a legend and a growing industry around all that interest and lost potential – why squander that on poor maintenance, ungracious options and disdain for the shows history?