‘Shada’ (TV)

 the legacy collection dvd


Please feel free to comment on my review.

What’s Left of ‘Shada’

I must admit I was pretty surprised by ‘The Legacy Collection’ DVD box-set and what it contained.

Of course I was delighted that ‘Shada’, the original TV version (or what’s left of it), was coming out on DVD at last! We would also have the TV documentary ‘More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS’ added to the collection. It’s such a shame it wasn’t ‘Dimensions In Time’, as I would like to see that on DVD.

People have preferences on what version of a certain product they like. In the case of ‘Shada’, there are now four versions of the story. Some prefer the original TV version; some prefer the novelisation; some prefer the audio drama; some prefer the webcast. I personally prefer the audio drama!

The original TV version of ‘Shada’ was released on a 2-disc DVD. The story (what’s left of it) is on Disc 1 with the special features on Disc 2. I first got into the world of ‘Shada’ through the Big Finish audio of ‘Shada’, starring Paul McGann. I believed (and still do) that the audio drama was the ‘correct’ one.

But I was still fascinated by the original TV story and I watched it on YouTube for fun. It didn’t have the best video quality I’m afraid, as it was taken directly from the VHS version released in 1992. But I was watching ‘Shada’ in its original form from 1979. It was a fun and so joyful experience to watch it!

I made comparisons between the original TV version with Tom Baker and the Big Finish audio version with Paul McGann. With the original TV version of ‘Shada’, I thought the only way to see it was on YouTube, since I didn’t think it would ever get released on DVD. How wrong I was about that!

When I found out ‘Shada’ was going to be released on DVD, I was astounded then delighted. I was looking forward to seeing ‘Shada’ again and getting to own it on DVD. I was pleased when I watched it, though I wish they did some more to the story, since this was the original VHS version from 1992.

They could have altered it slightly with having Dudley Simpson’s music to replace the original Keff McCulloch music, which is pretty awful. But at least they improved on the video quality, making it look fresher, brighter, sharper and lush with all its Cambridge location scenes and the studio scenes.

I like how this VHS version of ‘Shada’ opens with Tom Baker arriving at a ‘Doctor Who’ museum, as he provides the linking narration for all the gaps of scenes that weren’t filmed for the TV story. First, Tom explores the museum, seemingly in awe of all of the monsters on display. He’s beaten them all!

Tom soon stumbles upon a Kraag. A Kraag! This triggers a memory for the Doctor! “SHADA!!!” he bellows, before hushing himself as he gets excited. He remembers! It comes back to him! The story they never finished and was never transmitted. I like how Tom introduces us to the story of ‘Shada’.

In the introduction, Tom Baker adlibbed a lot of his lines, as it sets up the whole thing with ‘Shada’ in terms of what we’re going to see in the remarkable story that never got made. With Tom providing the linking narration for this lost TV story, it was going to be an intriguing, joyful, viewing experience.

For the remaining footage of ‘Shada’ itself, I very much enjoyed what was left in that lost story. All the location scenes of Cambridge were in the story. Cambridge looks so lovely in its glossy form and lush brilliance in the springtime weather. It makes you want to go there and explore it on a day trip.

I enjoyed the scenes in Professor Chronotis’ room, which I’m happy they got recorded in the studio as they’re my favourite scenes. I love Chronotis, as he’s played brilliantly by Denis Carey. It’s so sad that they never got to film scenes in the science lab, on board Skagra’s ship and even on Shada itself.

One scene I recognised from ‘Shada’ was the punting scene on the Cann with the Doctor and Romana. This scene was included in ‘The Five Doctors’ to fill Tom Baker’s absence when he refused to take part during the 20th anniversary special. I had seen that scene and knew what the lines were.

It was nice to see that scene; where it originally came from and how it fitted in for the rest of the story in what would have been ‘Shada’. I found it funny when Tom Baker seemed confident about his punting on the Cann, when in actual fact he could not do it and was scoffed by the onlookers nearby.

In terms of the cast, as I said, I love Denis Carey as Professor Chronotis. He’s not James Fox in the audio version, but he’s clearly ‘a nice old man’ and played the part well with such eccentricity, believability and full of woolly-mindedness. Denis would play the Keeper in the ‘The Keeper of Traken’.

Christopher Neame was good as Skagra, the villain. I prefer Andrew Sachs as Skagra in the audio version of ‘Shada’, since I found Neame’s performance lacklustre. But perhaps Neame played Skagra in a way Douglas Adams would have liked to play him with being serious and to show no-nonsense.

I enjoyed Daniel Hill as Chris Parsons. Daniel is believable and down-to-Earth as Chris, as he reacts to bizarre situations in the story. I saw Daniel attend the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention in Newcastle, October 2013 with his wife Olivia Bazalgette, who was the production assistant on ‘Shada’ at the time. I sadly did not get to meet them, but I did have a group photo shot with the two of them in it (see above in photo gallery).


Victoria Burgoyne was a delight as Clare Keightley. I’d seen Victoria before in an episode of ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ with Richard Briers. Victoria is lovely when playing Clare. I sympathise for Victoria when Tom recalled how she had cried a lot after being so unhappy that ‘Shada’ never got completed.

Tom Baker and Lalla Ward are really good as the Doctor and Romana. I liked the side-lines and humorous remarks Tom’s Doctor made and how cool Romana is when interacting with Professor Chronotis. They clearly enjoyed this story and the witty Adams dialogue and humour given to them.

I prefer John Leeson as K-9 really. I’m not happy with David Brierley as the voice in K-9 in this. It’s not against David Brierley’s performance. It’s just that he’s not John Leeson and I find it disconcerting whenever I hear him say lines that are unnaturally not K-9. He must still be suffering from laryngitis.

One of the things I liked about this version of ‘Shada’, which is something my Dad would like, is a group of St. John’s Choir Boys singing ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ from Glenn Miller. It was funny when they were singing and the Doctor drove past them on his bicycle with the sphere chasing him.

The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s the Big Finish/BBCi audio drama/webcast production of ‘Shada’ starring Paul McGann, which you can access on a PC/Mac. I was delighted that this Big Finish version of this story came out on DVD, as I got to watch it in its entirely on my laptop.

There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy. This provided some really interesting and insightful detail on how the original version of ‘Shada’ was made back in 1979 with Tom Baker. It’s a shame there’s no audio commentary to enjoy on ‘Shada’, as they could have got Lalla Ward on here.

On Disc 2, there’s a special making-of documentary called ‘Taken Out Of Time – The Making and Breaking of ‘Shada’ with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews. There’s also ‘Now and Then’, which focuses on the Cambridge locations used in ‘Shada’. There’s also the ‘Strike, Strike, Strike’ featurette; the ‘Being a Girl’ featurette and there’s also a photo gallery of the story.

There is also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Reign of Terror’ with William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Carole Ann Ford.

To have the original version of ‘Shada’ on DVD is really nice, although the Tom Baker version lacks the imagination of the Paul McGann version. Also the story on DVD feels incomplete, despite Tom Baker’s linking narration throughout. But I’m pleased ‘Shada’ has had its legacy since it got cancelled.

‘Shada’ was released on video in 1992 by John Nathan-Turner, turned into a Big Finish audio drama with Paul McGann and was novelized by Gareth Roberts. Having this DVD of the original ‘Shada’ completes the legacy, giving more insight into what the story might have been like had if completed.

I’m a big fan of ‘Shada’ nowadays and I’ve chatted to Lalla Ward about how many versions there are.

‘Shada’ rating – 7/10

shada novelization1  shada novelization audiobook


Please feel free to comment on my review.

“Tea?”, “Oh thanks!”, “Milk?”, “Oh yes, please!”, “One lump or two?”, “Two please!”, “Sugar?”

WOW!!! ‘Doctor Who – Shada’ the novelisation is big! Really, seriously! It’s one BIG book!

I hadn’t expected it to be as big as that! I persuaded myself to purchase the book after I enjoyed listening to the Big Finish audio drama of ‘Shada’ with Paul McGann’s Doctor. I became fond and interested in ‘Shada’ instantly. When I became aware of the book’s existence, I said “Hey, why not?!”

And why not indeed, since it’s a relishing story and I wanted to read more of it! When I got it in the post, I was expecting it to be a thin spine book that wouldn’t be so much weight. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and found what was inside. I think I nearly dropped the book!

‘Doctor Who – Shada’ is a ginormous book! It was like holding ‘The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey’ itself when I purchased it! It even felt and smelt like ‘The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey’ itself when I purchased it! I knew I was going to be in for a treat with ‘Doctor Who – Shada’.

Gareth Roberts, who novelized Douglas Adams’ scripts for the book, had put in so much detail and information. All of that makes the world of ‘Shada’ and ‘Doctor Who’ come alive to make it so expansive and delectable! I could taste the words off the pages as I read/listened through the book!

This isn’t your typical Target novelization. This is actually a lot more detailed and informative than any other story I have encountered – more than ‘Black Orchid’ actually. I didn’t think I was going to have time to read this! Thankfully I did, as I enjoyed reading/listening to every page of this fine book!

Douglas Adams, who wrote the original TV scripts, didn’t novelize his ‘Doctor Who’ stories including ‘Shada’ as well as ‘The Pirate Planet’ and ‘City of Death’. In fact, he would not allow anyone else to novelize his TV stories for him. Even Mr. Terrance Dicks was kept well out of the picture on this one.

I’m sure Douglas would have liked to have novelized the stories he did into prose form. But he was working on other things including ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ and the ‘Dirk Gently’ novels that he didn’t have time to novelize his ‘Doctor Who’ work, which is a shame as they’re great stories.

Many years later in 2012, Gareth Roberts, with kind permission from the Douglas Adams estate, novelized the lost story of ‘Shada’ altogether. Gareth is the perfect guy to write up the original TV scripts and turn them into a novel, as he is a really clever comedic writer when writing ‘Doctor Who’.

Gareth has written other Douglas Adams-styled stories for the Missing Adventures novel series in ‘Doctor Who’ during the 1990s. These include ‘The Romance of Crime’; ‘The English Way of Death’ and ‘The Well-Mannered War’. The novels have now been adapted into audio dramas by Big Finish.

‘Shada’ was originally a TV story for Tom Baker and Lalla Ward made in 1979. But it never got completed due to strike action. I think it’s clear and known that Douglas Adams wasn’t happy with the ‘Shada’ scripts he wrote for TV. Everyone, but him, was upset that ‘Shada’ never got completed.

Douglas was relieved, as he considered ‘Shada’ so bad. And to be fair, he has got a point. Sometimes the TV story and the Big Finish audio drama have scenes that seem rushed and aren’t well-structured enough. Douglas didn’t even have enough time to perfect the story before it went into production.

It’s surprising to think that ‘Shada’ isn’t as good as many claim it to be. Perhaps it’s a blessing that ‘Shada’ never got made, as we wouldn’t be celebrating the legacy that it has now. The legacy of ‘Shada’ continues to have its mystique and intrigue as to what the story would have been like on TV.

But ‘Shada’ is a story that’s cherished and un-ignored by the ‘Doctor Who’ fans and those who made it back in 1979. John Nathan-Turner even went to the trouble of getting ‘Shada’ released on VHS in 1992, much to Douglas Adams’ annoyance. ‘Shada’ has had more versions than other stories I know.

So what Gareth Roberts has done here is re-create a new version of ‘Shada’ from scratch. He keeps to its groundwork and plot structure to make it compatible, but clears some inconsistences that were going on in the story. He also resolves plot holes and unanswered questions that occurred in it.

Gareth also provides more humour than there originally was in the actual TV story, making it more of a tickly-funny Douglas Adams story with plenty of delicious embellishments; wonderful dialogue and lovely humour. After reading the book, it does feel like a good cup of tea or a nice French meal.

This, of course, is based on the original ‘Shada’ with Tom Baker as the Doctor, not Paul McGann. I prefer Paul McGann’s version of ‘Shada’, since it fits in with the continuity of ‘Doctor Who’. But it’s still nice to read and to listen to this novel with Tom Baker in mind as the original Doctor for this tale.

I’m sure everything that goes on in this novel can apply to the Paul McGann version of this story and someone else can novelise it to those standards. Perhaps I might novelise the Paul McGann version someday, according to Gareth Roberts’ version with Tom Baker’s Doctor. Maybe? I just don’t know.

I do like how ‘Shada’ the book is divided into six episodes with ‘Part One’, ‘Part Two’, ‘Part Three’, etc. The book is also divided into 75 chapters. Yes, 75 chapters! I know! As I said before, this book is ginormous….and BIG!!!!! It’s astonishing how much story can be covered by Gareth Roberts himself.

I read this book with the audiobook! ‘Shada’ is read by Lalla Ward, who played Romana in ‘Doctor Who’ with John Leeson as the voice of K9. Now if you think ‘Shada’ the book is ginormous, imagine how many CDs there are to the audiobook. There are 10 CDs. Not 4 CDs! 10! Unbelievable, isn’t it?!!

I don’t know how long it took for Lalla to read the audiobook of ‘Shada’, but it must have been more than two days. Lalla provides a refreshing and an enjoyable narration of the story. I like the voices Lalla gave for the guest characters including Professor Chronotis, Chris Parsons; Skagra and the Ship.

I remember chatting to Lalla Ward about ‘Shada’ at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ convention in Slough, August 2013. I amusingly stated that there are so many versions of ‘Shada’ that I don’t know which one is correct. But Lalla said they’re still very good, as all versions of ‘Shada’ are concerned. 😀

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Doctor Who – Shada’ signed by Lalla Ward and John Leeson at the ‘London Film and Comic Con 2017’, Olympia, July 2017. I’ve enjoyed sharing with Lalla and John how much I’ve enjoyed ‘Shada’ in all its forms. Lalla is very pleased that ‘Shada’ has all its legacy in all its forms.

It was lovely to hear K9 in this audiobook, voiced by John Leeson himself. John Leeson is K9 perfection and it feels right that he occasionally slips in to voice K9 whenever that cute robot dog has dialogue. It makes the story more reassuring and enjoyable to keep the reader/listener in check.

Everything I love about ‘Shada’ is more or less here in this book. I’m pleased they’ve still got the “Tea?’, “Oh yes, please!”, “One lump or two?”, “Two please!”, “Sugar?” joke in the book. My best mate Stephen, who knows how obsessed I was about ‘Shada’, knows how much I love that joke. 😀

When Stephen discovered I had the book, he opened it and looked through the page. He found the joke instantly, which made me laugh and got him going “Oh no! Not again! I’ve heard that joke so many times!” He thinks it’s funny, but it’s when I often keep telling that joke that gets under his skin. 😀

There are highlights in the novelization that stand out to make the story of ‘Shada’ work. One of these highlights is the reveal of Salyavin. I don’t know about you, but I thought it was rather giving the game away, both in TV and the Big Finish audio, where Chronotis said, “Here I am! I’m Salyavin!”

Gareth Roberts rectifies this by building it up towards ‘Part Five’s cliff-hanger in the novel. We’re made to think Salyavin has escaped and Skagra’s grovelling on the floor like a deranged child and the Doctor pats him on the back saying, “Never mind Skagra! Never mind!” It was funny reading that bit.

Then Chris enters and points at Chronotis, saying, “It’s him! The Professor! He’s not the Professor! He’s Salyavin!” It feels more effective and dramatic to have that build up and tension in the novel rather than just giving oneself away, as Chronotis seemed to in the original TV story/Big Finish audio.

This leads me on to talk about one of Gareth Roberts’ amusing and rude moments in the book. It’s when Skagra opens Salyavin’s cabinet on Shada and he finds he’s not there. Instead of nothing being there, there’s a very rude message on a sheet of paper, pinned where the body should have been.

The message has a really horrible V sign and a really, horribly rude swear word in old high Gallifreyan (the ancient language of the Time Lords). In the book, it’s translated ‘HA! HA! HA! ____ YOU! LOVE SALYAVIN! X’ I found this very funny when Skagra gets shocked and he falls on his hands and knees.

It’s a pretty rude moment and it’s done on how Gareth knows what Douglas would have written. It goes to extremes when Chris reveals Chronotis’ identity and the Doctor lets out a swear word, annoyed. I won’t write the rude word down, but I imagine the foul language Tom Baker would use.

I love what Gareth Roberts has done in developing the relationship between Chris Parsons and Clare Keightley. It was clear these two were obviously in a relationship together, but it had never been fully explored in the story on TV. Gareth Roberts takes it on and develops it further to greater effect.

He adds a new element in the relationship where Clare’s annoyed with Chris for not expressing his feelings to her and she’s on the verge of leaving Cambridge forever to go to America. The characters of Chris and Clare are greatly developed upon and I do love how they’re more fleshed out in ‘Shada’.

I found it a very touching and heart-warming moment towards the end of ‘Shada’ where Chris declares his love to Clare. The scene is set on what I can describe as a beach planet and Chris says out loud, “I love you! I love you, Clare Keightley!”. Clare is so relieved to hear Chris say that to her at last.

There are some new scenes that Gareth has added into the story. I liked the moment when K-9 stops the Doctor and Romana from sending a telepathic message to the Time Lords through a paper cube by using his nose laser to shoot it. K-9 and Chris also persuade them to handle their crisis themselves.

I liked it when Chris takes a bath in the TARDIS swimming pool from ‘The Invasion of Time’. I also liked it at the end when the Doctor and Chris are with Chronotis on the beach planet that I mentioned called Dronid. The Doctor answers all the unanswered questions in ‘Shada’ to Chris, whilst interrupting Chronotis. 😀

At the end of the book, there’s an afterword by Gareth Roberts, who provides an account on how he came to write the book and what the writing process was like with reference to Douglas Adams. There are acknowledgements by Gareth Roberts to the people who had helped him write the book.

I’ve become a big fan of ‘Shada’, following reading this extraordinary big book. I still love the Big Finish audio with Paul McGann, but I equally have enjoyed this tremendous book that provides a lot more insight into the story, supported by Lalla Ward reading it and K-9 popping in on the audiobook.

Gareth Roberts has done himself proud in novelizing this story. I highly recommend reading this book. It’s not disappointing. It’s pretty long, but if you love a good and cherishing story such as this, you can’t go wrong! ‘Shada’ the book is excellent and amazing! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it!

‘Doctor Who – Shada’ rating – 10/10

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3 thoughts on “‘Shada’ (TV)

  1. I really wish the BBC had got there act together & allowed completion of Shada as what i seen here made for interesting drama, i like the Eighth Doctor adaption but it’s such a shame Big Finish haven’t adapted this version as Tom & Lalla be great reimaging this story for audio.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Simon.

    Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Shada’. I love this story in all of its forms.

    Yeah it’s so sad that this story never got completed when it was being made back in 1979. It’s unfortunate that there was strike action happening at that time.

    I’ve heard that they’re now doing another version of ‘Shada’ (again!) which is an animation of the story and having Tom Baker and Lalla Ward reprise their roles for the story. Not sure how that’s going to work, but it’ll be interesting to find out.

    I’ve reviewed the Paul McGann version of ‘Shada’ on my blog already if you want to check it out, Simon. There’s another photo of me with Paul McGann if you want to see it. 😀

    The reason I added that photo to my review is because Daniel Hill and Olivia Bazalgette are in it. I didn’t meet them, but it was nice to have them in that group photo shot at ‘Dimensions 2013’, so why not add it in the review.

    Thanks for your comments, Simon. You get off from the floor now. 😀

    Tim. 🙂


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