Doctor Who: Shada, The Missing Douglas Adams Story, Recreated As BBC Feature Length Animation. But What Does Ian Levine Think?

Shada has gained legendary status as a Doctor Who story. Intended to be the final serial of the 1979–80 season starring Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, written by Douglas Adams, but abandoned due to an engineer strike, there have been many attempts to restage it. Footage was used in the subsequent Five Doctors crossover to explain the absence of The Fourth Doctor, Douglas Adams reworked the story into Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, in 1992, its recorded footage was released on video using linking narration by Tom Baker to complete the story.

The script was later produced by Big Finish Productions as an audio play, with limited animation and was made available by the BBC 2003, with Paul McGann playing The Doctor, Lalla Ward reprising her role as Romana, and an otherwise different cast.

A novelisation of the story by Gareth Roberts was released in March 2012. Lalla Ward read the audio version.

Doctor Who: Shada, The Missing Douglas Adams Story, Recreated As BBC Feature Length Animation. But What Does Ian Levine Think?

And, as a private project, controversial Doctor Who superfan Ian Levine and missing episodes hunter commissioned and created his own private animated version of the story, with many of the original cast including Lalla Ward, aside from Tom Baker.

But now, Doctor Who: Shada has been recreated once more from scratch by BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, with Tom Baker performing as the Fourth Doctor combining the original, remastered live-action footage with hand-drawn animation to be officially released on DVD, Bluray and digital download.

The story will feature the newly-recorded voices of the original cast, including Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana, performing the original script – her fifth time playing her role in the story. Shada will be released as a digital download on Friday 24th November, and on DVD and Bluray on Monday 4th December. With the following bonus materials.

Here is a trailer.

And what you can find inside.

Taken Out of Time (25' 39")
Now and Then (12' 45")
Strike, Strike, Strike! (27' 50")
Studio Sessions – 1979 (44' 38")
Dialogue Sessions (14' 16")
Model Filming (04' 36")
Deleted Scenes (01' 22")
Title Sequence Films (TBC)
Live Action Reference Footage (02' 48")
1979 Gallery (04' 50")
2017 Gallery (02' 52)

In a PR release, Tom Baker is quoted as saying "Shada was one of my favourite Doctor Who stories. I have many fond memories of shooting the location scenes in Cambridge, and it was disappointing not to finish the story in studio. I'm so glad that BBC Worldwide have found a way to bring fans a complete visual version."

The new feature-length production incorporates all of the live-action scenes from 1979, together with new animated material. Shada finds the Doctor in Cambridge working alongside companion Romana and retired Time Lord, Professor Chronotis, to defeat the evil alien Skagra who is attempting to steal the secrets to the prison planet, Shada. Douglas Adams fans who have somehow missed Shada will see the instant similarity to the plot of Dirk Gently.

Doctor Who: Shada, The Missing Douglas Adams Story, Recreated As BBC Feature Length Animation. But What Does Ian Levine Think?

Doctor Who: Shada is being produced by the team behind the highly successful and critically acclaimed animation of lost Doctor Who episode, The Power of the Daleks and lost Dad's Army episode A Stripe For Frazer. The team have had access to nearly seven hours of raw footage from the original 1979 Shada shoot from which they are editing the new production from scratch, with all the original film negatives re-scanned in full HD and digitally remastered.

Paul Hembury, Executive Producer, BBC Worldwide says, "Fans loved The Power of the Daleks, so we're delighted to be able to complete and bring them another lost Doctor Who classic."

Doctor Who: Shada, The Missing Douglas Adams Story, Recreated As BBC Feature Length Animation. But What Does Ian Levine Think?

Of course not everyone will be happy. Ian Levine, who spent over £40,000 of his own money recreating Shada is incensed he wasn't even consulted or his own version even used as a base for the new recording. He told Bleeding Cool "After all my many years of help and service to the BBC, and them making obscene amounts of money from missing episodes which I either found, recovered, or saved for them, this is the biggest single obscene insult to my integrity. Knowing that I spent £41,000 on remaking Shada, money I could ill afford, as a labour of love, their callous slap in the face is the greatest insult of all time to a man who only ever tried to care and help. F-CK YOU BBC. F-CK YOU CHARLES NORTON." Which is pretty clear.

It may also be worth noting that Levine used all manner of original notes and designs when preparing his version of Shada, to create as close a version as originally intended as he could, notes that have not been made available to the current producers, including costumes that weren't made, and identifying extra actors, including at least one note that indicated that originally Jon Pertwee was planned to have cameoed in this episode. You can see a glimpse of that version of Shada – and other private Doctor Who projects, here.

So don't expect to see him on Saturday 2nd December at a special screening of Doctor Who: Shada at BFI Southbank, London. Further information will be available from from Monday 23rd October. Tickets for BFI members will be available from Tuesday 7th November, and for the public from Tuesday 14th November.


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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