A Short History of Shada

A classic Doctor Who story is coming to the big screen, and boy is it a special one. Shada is unlike any other Doctor Who story ever made, because they never properly finished making it. Originally slated as the final story of Season 17 and scripted by the soon-to-be-famous Douglas Adams, the production was ultimately abandoned due to industrial action.

Now, 38 years after its conception, the BBC is completing the six-part epic by complementing the original studio and location scenes with animated sequences featuring voices from the original cast. But this certainly isn’t the first time that someone has tried to ‘complete’ the legendary incomplete story; in fact, Shada has managed to pop up in a whole bunch of different places over the years. Here’s a quick guide to them all:

1983

Fans first caught a glimpse of Shada during the 20th anniversary special, The Five Doctors. Originally scripted to include all five incarnations of the Doctor (including a recast First Doctor with the permission of William Hartnell’s widow), plans changed when Tom Baker declined to return to the role that had made him a household name, citing the fact that he had only relatively recently left. Producer John Nathan-Turner still wanted the Fourth Doctor to be a part of the special, and so arranged to include two short scenes originally shot for Shada. The Fourth Doctor’s absence was explained as being trapped in a time vortex as a result of a botched kidnapping, and his role in the plot was largely taken by the Fifth Doctor. 1983 also saw the screening of an unofficial reconstruction at a fan convention.

1987

Douglas Adams was never one to let a good idea die, and incorporated a few elements from Shada into his novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The novel, which featured an electric monk, a satire of the fledgling computer industry and a time-travelling visit to a 19th century poet, subsequently spawned a sequel (1988’s The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul) as well as a radio adaptation, a comic series and two television adaptations, the latter starring Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood.

1989

The appetite to experience a complete version of Shada led one fan to take extraordinary measures:  working in collaboration with fellow fan Jon Preddle, New Zealander Paul Scoones wrote an unofficial novelisation that saw publication in the same year that the classic series came to an end. The novel was one of a series of non-profit books published by the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club that adapted television stories that, for one reason or another, had not been tackled by the official publisher, Target Books. A second edition of the fan novelisation was published in 1991, and a third in 2001, each with a different cover.

1992

The first official, full-length release of Shada came in the form of a special VHS release uniting all the original footage with new linking material that had Tom Baker summarising the unfilmed scenes. As the original story never entered post-production, a new score was composed by Keff McCulloch in the style common to many late ‘70s Doctor Who episodes. A number of new special effects shots were also created for the release, and K-9 voice actor David Brierly even recorded his outstanding dialogue. The VHS release was also bundled with a book of the original script.

2003

The first full dramatisation of Shada came in the year of Doctor Who’s 40th anniversary. Big Finish Productions, the producers of many Doctor Who audio dramas, set out to create an audio adaptation. Their efforts caught the attention of BBCi, who partnered with Big Finish to create limited, Flash-based animations to accompany the audio production. Whilst Tom Baker was initially approached, he declined, and the story was reworked to star Paul McGann as the then-current Eighth Doctor. This had the fortunate side-effect of reconciling the story with The Five Doctors, with the Eighth Doctor catching up with Romana and wanting to attend to their ‘unfinished business’ from years ago. Lalla Ward returned to the role of Romana, but the cast was otherwise completely different to the 1979 version, including Sean Biggerstaff of the Harry Potter films and original K-9 voice actor John Leeson replacing David Brierly. The episodes were released as a webcast – a kind of pre-Netflix, pre-YouTube model of digitally streaming drama – over the course of six weeks and an expanded, audio-only version was released on CD later in the year.

2012

Whilst the return of Doctor Who to our screens in 2005 was the start of many good things, it was also the end of the adventures of past Doctors in print, with the BBC’s Past Doctor Adventures line ceasing publication. The release of an official novelisation of Shada (along with an audiobook read by Lalla Ward and John Leeson) broke the drought and was followed in subsequent years with original novels featuring past Doctors, as well as numerous short stories.  Novelisations are set to make a comeback in 2018, with new books based on the television adventures of the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors.

2013

The 50th anniversary year of the programme saw two new iterations of Shada – a remastered edition of the 1992 VHS release (along with a slew of new bonus features and the 1993 documentary More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS) was bundled in a DVD boxset titled The Legacy Collection, and an unofficial fan version that completed the missing scenes through full-motion animation. Whilst several cast members reprised their original roles, Tom Baker was notably absent – the role of the Fourth Doctor instead being played by a soundalike.

2017 & BEYOND

Fast-forward to today, where the cinema release of the official animation is imminent. Made by the same people behind last year’s animation of The Power of the Daleks, the latest version of Shada completes the story using full colour animation with newly recorded dialogue featuring members of the original cast including, crucially, Tom Baker. Rather than merely fill in the blanks of the 1992 version, the 2017 version goes back to the source material for a brand new edit and music score. All the original footage has been newly remastered, with location scenes in HD for the first time and studio scenes originally shot in SD upscaled for the big screen. As the first full dramatisation of Shada to star Tom Baker, this version looks to be the most faithful rendition of the story yet. Shada opens in cinemas on 24 November (the day after Doctor Who’s 54th anniversary!) and a release on DVD and Blu-Ray – including brand new extras – will follow early next year.

And there you have it! With so many permutations of Shada out there, it is no wonder that it has acquired mythic status among so many Doctor Who fans. In fact, Shada has spawned so many different versions, it is enough to rival that other thing Douglas Adams is known for: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Opinion – A Female Doctor: It’s Time!

Back in 2014, Dale Watts submitted an article to Data Extract magazine in which he weighed in on the debate surrounding a female Doctor. With Jodie Whittaker’s tenure in the TARDIS growing ever nearer, we thought it would be interesting to revisit Dale’s article. We now reproduce it here for the first time since its debut in DE#226, abridged for the online format.

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A female Doctor: a great idea or not? It certainly seemed to be the topic on everyone’s lips at the recent Lords of Time convention. With the Master having been regenerated into a woman in the Series 8 finale, and Steven Moffat having been quoted as saying he’d like Peter Capaldi’s successor to be female, it’s certainly something which is seeming increasingly likely as time goes on. And yet, as far as I could tell, most people at the convention seemed to be against the idea. This surprised and saddened me. Surprised, because I’d always just assumed that the Doctor could regenerate into a woman anyway, and simply hadn’t done so yet. Saddened, because it often seemed to be women against the idea.

Much as many are unwilling to admit it, Doctor Who sure as hell needs more female voices. It is a sad fact that only a handful of women have ever written or directed for the program. The recently-announced episode for Series 9 to be penned by Catherine Tregenna will be only the fifth Doctor Who story ever to have been written solely by a women – Tregenna follows in the footsteps of just three other women, Barbara Clegg, Rona Munro, and Helen Raynor. Another five stories were written by women as part of a writing partnership – four stories in the late ‘80s by Pip and Jane Baker, and a single one from Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott in the ‘60s. Even then, it’s disputed that Ms Scott ever actually wrote a word on the story she is credited on – The Ark. And that’s avoiding the issue of the pseudonymous ‘Paula Moore’, who wrote Attack of the Cybermen, and who was probably actually script editor Eric Saward.

Directors fare little better. Since 1963 there have been only ten female directors – Fiona Cumming, Paddy Russell, Julia Smith, Sheree Folkson, Sarah Hellings, Hettie MacDonald, Mary Ridge, Catherine Morshead, Rachel Talalay, and Alice Troughton, and only one story, Enlightenment, which just happens to be one of the greatest ever, from both a script and a production point of view, that has been both written and directed by women. Five of them have worked on the program in the last six years, which suggests that things are looking up, but the question remains: why such a small list at all? Are there simply not as many women interested in working on Doctor Who as there are men? Are the producers past and present sexist? Verity Lambert hired no women writers or directors, but I doubt anyone would accuse her of sexism. This is the woman who did most of the heavy lifting to get Doctor Who off the ground, and who in the process created two vibrant female characters in the form of Barbara Wright and Vicki Pallister.

Yet later producers, most of whom were male, did drop the ball a fair bit. It’s hard to argue otherwise, when so many actresses – among them, Louise Jameson, Janet Fielding and Nicola Bryant – recount that they were told they were there “for the dads”, which in itself raises the question of why a program that was ostensibly for children felt the need to include sexualised content for adult men. Leela may have been a strong, positive female character, but as Louise Jameson herself has pointed out, the character’s costume left little to the imagination. To give another example, Peri’s reputation as a character seems to be mostly based around her breasts, with Planet of Fire’s lingering shots of a bikini-clad Nicola Bryant.

What’s interesting about that example, though, is that it’s directed by a female director (Fiona Cumming) who was working for a gay male producer (John Nathan-Turner). This shows that sexism in Doctor Who is less the result of the producers being horrible people who deliberately set out to mock and sexualise women, and more the result of a societal expectation that women are there to be sexually attractive objects. And for every negative example of sexism in the program, there are positive female role models scattered throughout the program’s history. Barbara Wright, Liz Shaw, Sarah Jane Smith, Donna Noble, Clara Oswald – I don’t think any of these companions qualify as pretty, vacuous, monster-bait. Despite the cliche, there are only three occasions that I can recall where a companion tripped and sprained their ankle. And one of those was Adric!

So, Doctor Who has had its good moment and its not-so-good moments when it comes to its depiction of women. And frankly, its record of hiring female writers and directors is atrocious. So right now would definitely be the perfect time to try and increase the number of female voices in the program. And surely hiring a female lead actor would be a great step in that direction. Perhaps having a female lead character would help to attract more female directors and writers to the program! We know the Doctor can become a woman. It’s been implied since the Sarah Jane Adventures story The Death of the Doctor, in which Clyde asks the Doctor if he can be black, to which the Doctor replies, “I can be anything I want.” Note that he doesn’t add “except a woman”. There’s been further hints dropped since then – the most significant coming in The Doctor’s Wife, in which we’re told that the Doctor’s old friend, the Corsair, has had both male and female regenerations. Then, of course, there’s the Master’s recent regeneration into a woman, which seems to have split opinion.

So, to my mind, it’s not a question of whether the Doctor can become a woman, but whether he should. And I’m yet to hear a convincing argument for why he shouldn’t.

Many people seem to take the attitude of “it hasn’t been done before so it shouldn’t be done at all.” Leaving aside the fact that I hold the opposite opinion, imagine if this view had been adhered to by earlier production teams. The casting of Peter Davison was controversial at the time, as it was thought he was too young to play the role. But is anyone going to deny how great Davison, not to mention the other young Doctors (McGann, Tennant, Smith) were in the role? Not all great actors are old, white men, and if Doctor Who’s producers don’t take risks in their casting from time to time, Doctor Who can never change and improve itself.

Another flawed counter-argument to the question of a female Doctor is that having the Doctor become a woman “doesn’t make sense.” Considering we’re discussing a fictional television program about a time/space machine that’s bigger on the inside than the outside, piloted by an alien being that can change his entire physical appearance, I feel as though any questions of ‘sense’ went out the window long ago. I imagine there were viewers in 1966 who thought the changeover from Hartnell to Troughton didn’t make sense either, especially as Troughton didn’t put on a white wig and do a Hartnell impersonation. But 50 years later, we can look back on that event and see it for what it was – a brave move on the part of a desperate production team, which ensured their program’s long-term success to the present day. Hiring a female actor as the Doctor could definitely fall into the same bracket as that early ‘nonsensical’ decision.

By far the most distressing comments I heard, though – made more so because they were being made by women – were things like ‘women need men to rescue them’, or ‘women can’t be heroes’. If anyone genuinely believes that then I urge them to pick up any newspaper, or simply look around them, because strong, heroic women, who serve as positive role models for all of us, are everywhere. As an example, look at Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who was shot in the head and survived, for daring to stand up to the Taliban and demand that girls in her country be allowed an education. In fact, given that historically women have often been oppressed (and in many parts of the world still are), and that the Doctor always fights for the rights of the oppressed, it makes a kind of karmic sense that the Doctor should one day be a woman. It just feels right.

A female Doctor could be the most wonderful thing ever. I wouldn’t want a token female Doctor, chosen simply to be there and be female. Rather, I want to see the casting for the Doctor opened up to anyone and everyone, regardless of gender, age, or race. If a man is cast, then I’m sure he’ll do a great job, just as the past actors to play the role have done. But if a woman is cast, then equally great. I’d presume she was the best person for the job, and I’d hope that she would simply be the first of many, many more female Doctors. Whether she be an elderly Margaret Rutherford type, or a young, sexy Emma Stone type, there’s no reason in the world to suspect that a female Doctor couldn’t be as wonderful, as brave, as funny, and as heroic as any of her male predecessors.

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The full version of the article can be read in DE#226, which is available for purchase from the DWCA Shop. Other content in the issue includes interviews with Lords of Time 3 guests Katy Manning, Matthew Waterhouse, Terrance Dicks and Geoffrey Beevers, plus a special edition of A Little Perspective featuring discussion between three female fans.

The 6 Types Of Actor Who Could Be The Next Doctor

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We’re still reeling from the news that Peter Capaldi will be leaving the role of the Doctor at the end of this year. As fans, we now begin the process of grieving the loss of a Doctor whilst also looking forward to seeing who will step into Capaldi’s shoes and take the show in an exciting new direction. Chris Chibnall, and the powers that be at the BBC, face the daunting task of deciding who the Thirteenth Doctor will be.

Because we’re fans, we’ve made a list. A list of what sort of actor could fill the role – but rather than focus on speculation over individual actors, we are pondering the pools of talent that the production team may want to pick from. We’ve ordered our list from the most likely to be the next Doctor, to the least, based on nothing but fan intuition

1. THE RISING STAR

Given the immense popularity of the programme, taking on the role of the Doctor can be seen as a great career move for an actor. At the same time, the Doctor Who production team may well be looking to snag a young, talented performer before they grow too big for a long-running TV series.

The Rising Star is the sort of actor who has been popping up in the odd TV guest part and minor film role for a few years and has ‘potential’ written all over them. They light up the screen in any scene they are in, and are probably destined for stardom: they’re just waiting for their big break.

There’s past precedent for this sort of thing to happen, with David Tennant being cast as the Doctor fresh off the back of RTD’s Casanova just as his career was starting to build a real momentum. There’s a whole universe of rising stars to choose from, with Andrew Gower, Wunmi Mosaku and Lydia Rose Bewley to name just a few, so the size of the pool and the amount of talent in it makes this our most likely pick.

 

2. THE SEASONED PROFESSIONAL

There are plenty of actors who have long, respectable careers but who haven’t quite reached international stardom. Chibnall and co may be looking for a proven talent with a large body of work, who seems to crop up in almost everything but has never really shone in the limelight. The kind of person that makes you go ‘oh, it’s them’ whenever you see them on screen.

There are plenty of examples of this from the show’s history: past Seasoned Professionals to take on the role include Christopher Eccleston, the outgoing Peter Capaldi, and the man who kicked the whole thing off, William Hartnell. Some of the early favourites for the Thirteenth Doctor firmly fall under this umbrella, including David Harewood and Olivia Colman, so the chances of a well-versed actor assuming the role seem quite likely. We can easily imagine someone like Tim Roth, Tracey Childs or Lennie James taking on the role.

 

3. THE HOUSEHOLD NAME

It’s now an uncommon occurrence to see actors with major film careers diverge into television. While it is unlikely that we will ever see an actor at the height of their popularity take on the small screen commitment of Doctor Who (those who are desperate for Benedict Cumberbatch to play the Doctor may want to moderate their expectations), there could be some iconic talent who could be coaxed into the TARDIS if they are looking for a new phase in their career. The production team could benefit in casting someone with star power, who is immediately recognisable and brings a sizeable audience with them. Someone with a kind of credibility that would ground the show as it makes the transition between the old and new showrunners.

Movement between the big and small screen has rarely been as free as it is now, but there is a near enough example from Doctor Who’s past (if you squint hard enough): at the time of the Fifth Doctor’s casting, Peter Davison was something of a major TV star, at least in the UK, having played a lead role in the veterinary comedy-drama series All Creatures Great and Small.

We can think a little bigger now, and the prospect of someone like Tilda Swinton (Eighth Doctor actor Paul McGann’s personal pick), Chiwitel Ejiofor or Hugh Laurie taking over in 2018 seems tantalisingly plausible.

 

4. THE UNKNOWN

It’s almost as plausible that the powers that be could select someone who has virtually no profile whatsoever, who brings no baggage with them (remember how the spectre of Malcolm Tucker hung over the early part of Peter Capaldi’s tenure?). It would make a powerful statement of intent from an incoming showrunner – this is someone fresh who is going to be unpredictable in the role. It really could be anyone’s game.

Past Doctor Matt Smith was barely heard of at the time of his casting, but perhaps an even better example comes in the form of the newest lead to join the series, Pearl Mackie, whose past CV is mostly theatre credits. It could be a risky path to take, but the possibility of the new Doctor being played by someone completely unfamiliar to audiences is incredibly exciting.

 

5. THE COMEDY CROSSOVER

Catherine Tate was a revelation as Donna Noble way back in 2008, proving that a comedic actor’s decision making and sense of timing can be just as valuable when playing drama. It’s now pretty commonplace to see British comedy actors do good work in dramatic roles, so much so that Miranda Hart can play a midwife and Joanna Scanlan can play a gritty detective and without anyone batting an eyelid. In looking to capture the Doctor’s distinctive sense of wit, the new production team could do worse than look amongst the scores of talented actors who have their roots in comedy.

The role of the new Doctor could represent a great opportunity for a gifted funny person to transition to the world of drama – it certainly was for Jon Pertwee back in 1970, when Pertwee was best known for his appearances in multiple Carry On films and his role in the long-running radio series The Navy Lark.

Suggestions of The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade, along with the aforementioned Hart, have already been doing the rounds. We think some well-loved comedy actors who have already had a stab at playing it straight, such as Tamsin Greig, or Sanjeev Bhaskar, could give highly memorable takes on the part. However, it may be even more exciting to see the dramatic potential unlocked in someone who so far has not strayed far from the world of comedy – perhaps someone like Matt Berry?

 

6. THE WILD CARD

The worst possible choice that the production team could make would be to pick someone boring. The Wild Card definitely isn’t boring. There’s something about them that breaks the mould. Perhaps they are best known for something other than acting. Perhaps they aren’t British. Perhaps they’re Australian. Perhaps they’re, wait for it, American. Chibnall could do something hugely unexpected and go with a completely gonzo decision. It would certainly get people sitting up and paying attention.

Remarkably, this sort of thing has happened before. Sylvester McCoy’s formative career was in experimental theatre, and he also had a string of children’s television credits prior to accepting the role of the Doctor. That’s before we even get to past companions, which have included the likes of pop singers (Billie Piper), former child stars (Bonnie Langford) and talent competition winners (Wendy Padbury).

The idea of a completely off-the-wall choice, like singer-songwriter Morrissey, Australian actor Elizabeth Debicki or American rapper and sometime actor Mos Def, has us tickled.

 

Of course, Capaldi’s eventual successor might not neatly fit in one of the above categories – they might be a highly experienced comedy actor, or a non-British up-and-comer, or, well, anybody. Whatever decision Chibnall and his colleagues end up making, we’re sure it will be a fine one. Casting the Doctor may be a difficult process, but no-one’s made a bad choice so far.

Thank you for the Doctor Who Festival

The Doctor Who Club of Australia, on behalf of Australia’s Whovians, would like to thank BBC Worldwide for bringing the Doctor Who Festival to the land Down Under. When the club was founded back in 1976, it’s something that we never would have thought possible.

So thank you for landing the Lego TARDIS on Bondi Pavilion in the lead-up to the festival, no doubt confusing many non-Whovian beach-goers in the process.

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Image credit: Alex Gabbott.

Thank you for packing each day with so many activities that we wish we could have used that Lego TARDIS to go back in time and do it all again.

Thank you for the panels, photographs and autographs, enabling us to meet our heroes from both in front of and behind the camera.

Thank you for giving us up-close looks at the props, costumes and sets, showing just how much detail is put into creating the world of each episode.

Thank you for teaching us how to act like a Sontaran, build a Sandman and blow up a Cyberman.

Thank you for bringing out an amazing group of guests, including Peter Capaldi, Sylvester McCoy, Ingrid Oliver, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Dan Starkey, Jon Davey, Danny Hargreaves, Charlie Bluett and Daniel Nettheim.

Thank you for recruiting a great bunch of local Whovians to host the various panels, plus their Auslan interpreters, as well as the volunteers who helped guide us through the day from beginning to end.

Finally, thank you for making us Aussie fans feel like we’re a part of something special. It’s really humbling to know that of all the Who-loving countries in the entire world, ours is the one you chose to give this experience to. We hope you enjoyed it just as much as we did.