“Shada,” a legendary unfinished Doctor Who serial abandoned in 1979 due to a BBC strike, will be available to watch in its entirety soon. The original footage has been remastered and combined with all-new color animation using voices of the original cast, including Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Lalla Ward as his Time Lady companion, Romana.
With a script by Douglas Adams, “Shada” is the story of a retired Time Lord at Cambridge who hides a dangerous artifact that is stolen by an evil alien who seeks to gain access to the secrets of an infamous prison planet called Shada.
A VHS of “Shada” was released in 1992 using Tom Baker’s narration to fill in the gaps (eventually released on DVD), and the BBC released a Flash-animated version of the story in 2003 starring Eighth Doctor Paul McGann alongside Ward, based on a Big Finish audio production they did. A novelized version also has been released.
Baker has called the episode one of his favorites. “I have many fond memories of shooting the location scenes in Cambridge, and it was disappointing not to finish the story in studio,” he told the BBC. “I’m so glad that BBC Worldwide have found a way to bring fans a complete visual version.”
Other “missing” or incomplete stories from Doctor Who’s classic era have been released with mixed methods, from using “tele-snaps” or on-set photography set against a complete soundtrack where available (as seen with Patrick Troughton’s “The Wheel in Space”), to black-and-white animation to fit the era’s look (as recently seen with Troughton’s “Power of the Daleks”).
“Shada” will be available as a digital release on Nov. 24 and on DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 4 (at least in the U.K.). This release is being re-edited from hours of raw footage with on-location film at Cambridge scanned into full high-definition quality and digitally remastered; studio footage remains in its original standard definition.