THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO
STORY" AND "STORM
GARY RUSSELL &
BIG FINISH SPECIAL #II
RELEASED IN DECEMBER
The Doctor has a spot
of unfinished business.
Reunited with his old
friends Romana and
K9, he answers THE
CALL FROM HIS FRIEND
a retired Time Lord
WHO NOW RESIDES in
a Cambridge college.
But the Doctor isn’t
the only visitor to
Cambridge - the alien
Skagra is intent UPON
stealing an ancient
and mysterious book
brought to Earth by
the Professor many
What is Skagra’s
plan? And who or
what is Shada? To
discover the truth,
the Doctor and his
friends must embark
on a perilous journey
that will take them
from the cloisters of
Cambridge to the
farthest reaches of
deep space, risking
with a sentient ship,
the RAVENOUS Krargs,
and an ancient Time
Lord criminal called
As the Doctor soon
discovers, the fate of
the universe hangs in
VIEW THE WEBCAST
2ND MAY 2003 - 6TH JUNE 2003
Shada is a fascinating anomaly in the Doctor’s life that I for one am delighted Big Finish and BBCi have finally resolved.
The 1979-1980 run was a strange season for Doctor Who. Whilst it gave rise to one of the best serials of all time in City of Death, it must also claim ownership of a below-par Dalek story and a hideous string of clangers. However, the season might at least have ended on a resounding note had industrial action at the BBC not prevented the completion of Douglas Adams’ season finale and Doctor Who swansong, Shada. Years later, BBC video would film linking narration from Tom Baker at the Longleat Exhibition to ‘complete’ the story, but with much of the action (particularly towards the story’s end) missing, Shada simply wasn’t done justice. However, the video production did present enough material to show just how good the serial could have been...
Paul McGann, the reigning Doctor, is handed a script tweaked by Gary Russell and Nicholas Pegg. After the success of Real Time, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Doctor Who, Shada is re-made as an audio drama to be broadcast on the internet accompanied by the colourful illustrations of Lee Sullivan. Russell’s version of Shada stays true to the original and what’s more, presented as it is as six complete, partially-animated episodes, even the most hardened audio-sceptics amongst us are finally given a glimpse of just how good a McGann television series could have been.
A brief pre-title sequence explains
away the thorny continuity of the
story, and also gives it a little bit of
mystique even for those unfamiliar
with the back story. Plucked out of
time by the time scoop in The Five
Doctors, the Doctor and Romana’s
adventure in 1979 Cambridge was
‘undone’ and so many years later,
in his eighth incarnation, the Doctor pops over to Gallifrey to escort his former companion and reigning Time Lord President to Cambridge to do what they should have done a long time ago…
McGann is right at the top of his game here, ingratiating his Doctor into the story seamlessly - no small feat, given that the script had been written for the rather wacky Tom Baker. Cool rather than crazy, the Doctor of Shada exudes energy and enthusiasm.
For her part, Lalla Ward plays Romana very much in line with the New Adventures’ and Big Finish’s prior depiction of the character. Comparing this Shada to the earlier (now ‘undone’ version), it is evident just how much she has grown up and become more seasoned, though the webcast’s illustrations still make her look incredibly young and beautiful rather than older and more weathered (which must have been tempting, given her Presidency).
The rest of the cast are similarly superb, once you get used to Andrew Sachs (Manuel of Fawlty Towers fame) speaking English and Chris Parsons suddenly being Scottish! There are plenty of in-jokes to be enjoyed along the way too (such as Skagra carjacking a ‘Ford Prefect’, or the Doctor finding a helmet from the USS Enterprise-D) and so all told this new, bold and colourful Shada is a wonderful way for Doctor Who to embrace the future whilst
still paying homage to its past.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This 2003 production of Shada suggests that when the fourth Doctor and Romana were lifted out of time in
The Five Doctors, their would-be actions in 1979 Cambridge were undone – once freed, they simply left in
the TARDIS, as shown at the end of the anniversary special, thus allowing the eighth Doctor, Romana and
K-9 to later return to Cambridge in 1979 and effectively remount the earlier ‘undone’ adventure.
Further, The Company of Friends makes it explicit that for the ‘young’ eighth Doctor, the events of Mary’s Story take place prior to the audio drama Storm Warning, whilst his companions Samson and Gemma are waiting for him in Vienna (if indeed ‘'whilst’ is the right word). In this production, the Doctor mentions Byron
and Shelley in the past tense, referring to an evening spent with them on Lake Geneva - a likely reference
to the events of Mary’s Story, suggesting that this story takes place after it. And so given the tight continuity between Samson and Gemma’s fateful encounter with Davros (depicted in Terror Firma’s flashback scenes)
and Storm Warning, we take the view that Shada must take place between Mary’s Story and Storm Warning, whilst Samson and Gemma are still in Vienna.
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