Sunday, 8 December 2002

the return of shada

BBCi has revealed plans for its 40th anniversary of Doctor Who webcast: a remake by Big Finish Productions of the classic "lost" Doctor Who story Shada, written by the late Douglas Adams. "Shada" was originally abandoned due to an industrial strike, although it was eventually released on video with linking narration by Tom Baker. In this new version of "Shada", the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) is reunited with old friends Romana (Lalla Ward) and K-9 (John Leeson) "in a quest to track down the most dangerous book in the universe." The cast features such notables as James Fox ("A Passage to India," "The Remains of the Day") as Professor Chronotis, Andrew Sachs (best remembered as daffy waiter Manuel on "Fawlty Towers") as Skagra, Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood in the "Harry Potter" films) as Chris Parsons, Hannah Gordon (presenter of UK Channel Four's "Watercolor Challenge" and originally in the Doctor Who serial "The Highlanders") as the voice of Skagra's ship, Susannah Harker ("Ultraviolet") as Clare Keightley,Melvyn Hayes ("Quatermass II," "Ain't Half Hot, Mum") as college porter Wilkin, andStuart Crossman in an unknown role. "This is a tremendously exciting project," director Nicholas Pegg told BBCi. "We’ve really pulled out all the stops on this one. We’ve had a fantastic time in the studio and I hope people will agree that we’ve done justice to one of the greatest writers Doctor Who was ever blessed with." Says Big Finish producer, Jason Haigh-Ellery, "This is a great opportunity to finally produce Doctor Who's most famous lost script, and a fine tribute to Douglas Adams." Lee Sullivan will produce animation for the new webcast and Gary Russell, on authority from the estate of Douglas Adams, has tailored the script to add some framing information and tie it into the story. BBCi senior producer James Goss stated on the Outpost Gallifrey Forum, "Big Finish have come up with a neat way of fitting the new Shada into continuity without messing around with the original script too much. Without going into detail, there's a short prelude set on Gallifrey, where the Doctor turns up to see Romana, explaining that they've got some unfinished business to attend to... involving a call for help from an old friend that they appear to have been somehow prevented from answering." At right, a photo from BBCi with McGann, Ward and K-9. The recording was taped in early November, and is set for debut on BBCi next spring. (Thanks to BBCi, as well as everyone who wrote in to let us know about it and the report on Biggerstaff's website)