Back in 1979 the Doctor Who team failed to fully produce a serial by Douglas Adams called Shada. As a result of this – caused by repeated industrial action at the BBC – the series ran a few weeks shorter than normal, and most people didn’t notice.
However, the people that mattered did notice. Producer Graham Williams, for instance, was more than aware that Douglas Adams was something of a genius. The series’ stars were both friends of Adams, while future producer John Nathan-Turner was enthused by the script enough to try and recover it in various ways throughout the remainder of his career.
Released with linking narration from Tom Baker on BBC Video in 1992, mounted as a Big Finish and BBC Online co-production (starring Paul McGann and Lalla Ward, with visuals from Cosgrove Hall) in 2003 and even released as an unofficial (and hence free) fan-written novelization, Shada has finally found its most appropriate home (given the circumstances of the tale) in a written adaptation by TV scriptwriter Gareth Roberts (The Shakespeare Code, The Lodger).
An adventure that was originally intended to close Series 17, Shada has many faces, just like a Time Lord. Importantly, however, it is an enigma, a lost story that has never really been fully explored.
Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll be looking at Shada in several different ways, including a podKast discussion as well as bringing you a review of Roberts’ adaptation.