back to article Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams

The fourth and finest Doctor, Tom Baker, has reprised the role to finish a Who serial scuppered in 1979 by strike action at the BBC. Shada, penned by Hitchhiker's Guide author Douglas Adams, was supposed to close Doctor Who's 17th season. Location filming in Cambridge and a studio session were completed but the strike nixed …

  1. Forget It
    Go

    Now that's what I call Time Travel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well.at least I might watch this if It doesn't have the BBCs political correctness shoveled down my throat.

      I don't need to have the lead character's sexual preferences made obvious several times an episode. And he was meant to be a doctor not a nurse!

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Doctor Who's 17th season

    If this is a .co.uk site, it's Doctor Who's 17th series.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Doctor Who's 17th season

      Aww, come on - it's all about les relations internationales. Also, we want to be cool and hip and whatnot. (I think the kids say disruptive these days.)

      Anyway: Good news, everyone!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Doctor Who's 17th season

      The early ones weren't series, they were serials, with one story running through all the episodes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Doctor Who's 17th season

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Doctor_Who_serials#Season_1_.281963.E2.80.931964.29

        The early seasons were indeed serials, but with one story arc running through several episodes, and several story arcs per season, is I think what you meant to say. The 2k+ version again may have story arcs spanning several episodes, with stand-alone episodes wedged in there also.

    3. Oh Homer

      Re: Doctor Who's 17th season

      Is that salt, or pepper?

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Doctor Who's 17th season

        Don't push it.

  3. TRT Silver badge

    DNA

    Nicked elements of other Dr Who scripts for his Dirk Gently books. In fact, Dirk Gently is possibly the best Dr Who story never made.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: DNA

      Adams ended up using elements of the plot in his novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, where Chronotis is a university professor who happens to be hundreds of years old

      And uses his time travelling skills to watch last nights telly as its easier than using the video recorder :)

      Icon for Mr Adams r.i.p

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: DNA

        Adams ended up using elements of the plot in his novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, where Chronotis is a university professor who happens to be hundreds of years old

        Also elements from 'City of Death', another DG Doctor Who story, which is also damn good (and has Lalla Ward dressed Parisian schoolgirl style).

        1. Truckle The Uncivil

          Re: DNA

          @Teiwaz

          Ah. Yes, Lalla Ward the very best companion nearly matched by her predecessor.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: DNA

      I would have loved to read another Dirk Gently story. Or five.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: DNA

        I would have loved to read another Dirk Gently story. Or five.

        Unfortunately the much lamented man in question got himself so stressed up over the writing lifestyle he needed a bath or five to chill out so they never happened.

        Woosh!!, there goes another deadline...

        What a guy!!

        'So hip, he'd no problem keeping his bum on.'

    3. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: DNA

      Well there were the BBC Dirk Gently TV series starring Stephen Mangan . Although loosely based, personally I think they are grossly under-rated and probably the best small/large screen representation of DNA's work

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2303367/?ref_=tt_rec_tt

      1. Valerion

        Re: DNA

        Well there were the BBC Dirk Gently TV series starring Stephen Mangan . Although loosely based, personally I think they are grossly under-rated and probably the best small/large screen representation of DNA's work

        I enjoyed those, too. Stephen Mangan was a perfect Dirk - pretty much exactly how I imagined him when reading the books.

        There's also a Netflix "Dirk Gently" that is nothing to do with anything DNA did. Still quite entertaining and a suitably odd plot, but only Dirk Gently by name.

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Re: DNA

          There's also a Netflix "Dirk Gently" that is nothing to do with anything DNA did. Still quite entertaining and a suitably odd plot, but only Dirk Gently by name.

          My impression of the Netflix series was: "there's no way in hell that a man as peaceful as DNA would ever have allowed such a bloody and violent script to be attached to his creation"

          It's still worth a watch if you forget about the original Dirk (or the underrated BBC series which captured the tone of the books brilliantly), but I despaired when [without spoiling any plot points] it slipped into the hackneyed big-government conspiracy theory nonsense that ruins so many American Sci-Fi programmes...

        2. /dev/null

          Re: Stephen Mangan

          Nah, the original Dirk Gently, Michael Bywater, was closer to the one I imagined....

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: DNA

      Na - some of his Dr Snuggles scripts were amazing. Well I was off work with bronchitis and well above the recommended dosage of whisky and Hills Bronchial Balsam which had morphine it and was the only cough medicine that ever worked.

    5. xeroks

      Re: DNA

      "Dirk Gently is possibly the best Dr Who story never made."

      Well, to be honest it does contain significant chunks of "City of Death" Not that he had any qualms about recycling good material!

  4. wolfetone Silver badge

    How can a Time Lord retire and wind down their days? Wouldn't they just regenerate when they kicked the bucket?

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Happy

      You also have to admire the subtlety of a Time Lord choosing their alias on earth to be Professor Chronotis. It's not quite on the same level of lack of research as Ford Prefect but we're looking at the same ballpark.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        choosing their alias on earth to be Professor Chronotis.

        It's been a while since I read either of the the DG books, but i seem to remember that was a variant of the Professors title at the University.

        Regius Professor of Chronology

        Also referred to as 'Reg' in the book.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Facepalm

          "Regius Professor of Chronology. Also referred to as 'Reg'"

          Damnit, I only just got that joke, about 25 years after I first read it.

    2. Valerion

      Not if they'd used all their regenerations...

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        "Not if they'd used all their regenerations..."

        So really the Dr.Who should've died after Paul McGann surely? Or after Joanna Lumley?

        1. davidp231

          Only of you consider Curse of the Fatal Death as official canon.

          Although saying that.... Joanna Lumley would have made an excellent Doctor.

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
            Coat

            I always wished for a Dr Who meets Sapphire & Steel episode, alas, not to happen...

            Still looking for my enormous scarf, damn those tardis pockets! =>

            1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            2. Timmy B Silver badge

              RE:" I always wished for a Dr Who meets Sapphire & Steel episode, alas, not to happen..."

              Quiet - keep it down. The last thing we need is some American broadcaster hear you and we get a Sapphire and Steel US remake.....

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          So really the Dr.Who should've died after Joanna Lumley?

          <tom-baker-after-dinner-speaking-voice > what a way to go ....</tom-baker-after-dinner-speaking-voice >

      2. Stuart Castle

        Or, if they decide not to regenerate. The ability to do this appears to be something Steven Moffat has tried to introduce.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Stuart Castle

          I feel like there was at least one refusal to regenerate under Russell T Davies – isn't that what did it for John Simm the first time around?

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge

            Re: @AC

            I think the whole story leading up to the "death" of the master in that episode was a case of such strong wibbly wobbly timey wimey that the Whoniverse itself decided to be rid of the problem by cremating the master until such time as it had figured out what had happened to it.

            Tennant did spend as long as he could in that form before regenerating into Smith and had the extra regeneration that he pumped into his old hand (long story) so there is obviously some aspect of will in the matter.

            1. davidp231

              Re: @AC

              He got resurrected again (partially) after that by a cult. It didn't go well and he came back 'not all there', and ultimately ended up back on Gallifrey, and presumedly got killed in the Time War - then we meet Missy. How she came to be is never explained - she just appears, so one can assume he was a casualty of the war, and as Missy, manages to escape. Somehow.

              His first resurrection was to fight in the Time War, until he decided to leg it, fire up the Chameleon Arch and hide at the end of the universe, and keeping a low profile by narrating In The Night Garden until he's shown the watch - kicking off the chain of events that led to his cremation.

  5. graeme leggett

    The nth time the unfinished Shada has been completed

    Once you include VHS stitch together of existing footage with Baker narration in the 90s, web audio drama with Paul McGann's 8th Doctor in 2003, Ian Levine 2013 fan version animation etc

    1. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: The nth time the unfinished Shada has been completed

      The first reconstruction was available on VHS in 1992. It added narration by Tom Baker. Details are provided at Wikipedia:

      "...Some years later, Nathan-Turner eventually set out to complete the story in a fashion, by commissioning new effects shots and a score, and having Tom Baker record linking material to cover the missing scenes. The resulting shortened episodes (of between 14 and 22 minutes each) received a 111-minute VHS release in 1992. In its UK edition, the VHS also was accompanied by a facsimile of a version of Douglas Adams's script. The release was discontinued in the UK in 1996."

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shada_(Doctor_Who)

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The nth time the unfinished Shada has been completed

      "Ian Levine 2013 fan version animation etc"

      Apparently Sergeant Benson is extremely pissed off at this new version of Shada. Possibly because it'll kill his royalties on his version.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And for those lost episodes.

    Can't we just zoom out* and collect all the TV transmissions from the very beginning?

    Hang the expense.

    * Really really fast.

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: And for those lost episodes.

      "* Really really fast."

      No problem if you order one of Elon's new Teslas today. Provided he can get one made before the heat death of the universe. May be a close call ...

    2. Oh Homer

      Re: And for those lost episodes.

      They may have long scrubbed the tapes, but presumably they still have the scripts. With the aid of CGI it shouldn't be too difficult to simply recreate those lost episodes from scratch.

      1. Francis Vaughan

        Re: And for those lost episodes.

        Oh they can do much better that that. They still have the audio, and the have the "telesnaps". Every 10 seconds, or so, a still image taken from the screen.

        It is a bit of balance between cost and artistic intent how far into the CGI you would go. The reproductions done so far - such as The Moonbase, The Power of the Daleks, The Invasion, seem to have taken a good line. It isn't unreasonable to imagine we will eventually get the entire missing episodes back in a watch-able form. I saw all of these when they were broadcast, and the reproductions are not too shaby really. (I was of course quite young, but those it I remember are nicely captured even in the low cost animations used.) The most critical thing is the sound anyway. More of the story is told with the audio than we realise. That the sound is intact is the key.

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: And for those lost episodes.

        They may have long scrubbed the tapes, but presumably they still have the scripts. With the aid of CGI it shouldn't be too difficult to simply recreate those lost episodes from scratch.

        Well, looking at the stilted and clunky animation the BBC uses for DrWho re-creations, they should leave it to someone else and not bother doing any more. Heck, the low-budget first-season animations of RWBY were way better than this, and that was with some off-the-shelf package.

        Heck, they could get Toonz (Studio Ghibli's animation software) for free in the Open Source version (OpenToonz). No excuse for half-assed work.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: And for those lost episodes.

          What pays for the animations is the expected number of DVD sales and downloads.

          Which isn't much. Hence most of the investment in animation is to fill in between existing and recently recovered material that hasn't had a previous outing on DVD. Eg Invasion, Ice Warriors, Tenth Planet.

          And those were stories which were expected to be popular. By comparison Underwater Menace was audio and stills standing in for missing episodes.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: And for those lost episodes.

            Or simply remake the episode from scratch with the current Dr

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And for those lost episodes.

      You would only have to go half as far because you would have to travel faster than the speed of light.

    4. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: And for those lost episodes.

      > Can't we just zoom out* and collect all the TV transmissions from the very beginning?

      Judging by the passion Dr Who inspires in scientifically-minded people, this idea will probably inspire the development of FTL travel (or time travel, actually pretty much the same thing).

      1. John Gamble
        Boffin

        Re: And for those lost episodes.

        Or perhaps an improved SETI program:

        "Dear aliens twenty or less light years away. You know those electromagnetic signals from Earth that you've been recording? Could you do us a favor and beam them back at us? Particularly the ones from around 51°30′N 0°7′W. Thank you!"

    5. DJSpuddyLizard

      Re: And for those lost episodes.

      Can't we just zoom out* and collect all the TV transmissions from the very beginning?

      Not really. At 38 light years out, the signal degradation would be too much.

      Good old Inverse Square thingy, I think.

  7. Daedalus Silver badge

    Not unprecedented

    Very much off topic, but in 2005 when the Beeb went all completist and decided to finish all the Lord Peter Wimsey canon for Radio 4, they dug up Ian Carmichael to voice him for the non-murderous "Gaudy Night" (dark doings in Oxford women's college - oooh!). He sounded very different from his Woosterish early recordings, of course. On the evidence of his cameo in "The Day of the Doctor", Tom Baker (may he live forever) should sound as good as he used to.

  8. m0rt Silver badge

    "The fourth and finest Doctor, Tom Baker"

    I second this. Dr Who IS Tom Baker.

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge
      Mushroom

      That would be fightin talk

      I'll get the popcorn......

  9. Bob Dole (tm)
    Thumb Up

    Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

    I grew up watching Tom Baker as Dr. Who. The other guys just never clicked with me.

    He was fun, smart, witty and probably helped shaped who I am today.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

      Tom Baker was a first class doctor. But the real one is Jon Pertwee for me.

      1. Daedalus Silver badge

        Re: Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

        Not only that, he does a bang-up job of reading the credits for "Dead Ringers"**

        ** Humour.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

      Let's not forget, as well as being the best doctor, he had the finest companions. My personal favourite. Louise Jameson as leela. Wow. People too young to remember, well worth a Google.

      1. Mooseman Bronze badge

        Re: Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

        "Louise Jameson as leela"

        I see your Louise Jameson and raise you (fnaar) Mary Tamm.

    3. Arctic fox
      Happy

      Re: Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

      I am afraid that I am of an age that the doctor is always William Hartnell in my (childhood) eyes.

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

        I am afraid that I am of an age that the doctor is always William Hartnell in my (childhood) eyes.

        Speaking of childhood memories, like one of those baby chicks who ends up imprinting the wrong object in place of it's mother, my one true James Bond is Roger Moore FFS. Took me ages to realise he was actually rather rubbish

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

          my one true James Bond is Roger Moore

          Nah, he was always, and will only ever be, The Saint.

  10. Richard Scratcher

    Shada Pure Face

    Scenes from the Shada story were used for the feature-length episode "The Five Doctors" (1983). This was because Tom Baker didn't want to appear in that story.

    1. davidp231

      Re: Shada Pure Face

      One could also argue that's the reason Shada never got finished... he got trapped in time during Five Doctors, so therefore unable to participate in the events of Shada.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    blasphemy

    most of those old 60s doctor who episodes seem to be loads of standing around blabbing then running around some boxes in the bbc basement.

    No wonder they wiped the tapes when someone not into it all got in charge.

    Maybe toms nutty turn is different but I never watched any of those.

    Actually I never watch any of the new ones either so maybe shouldn't comment.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: blasphemy

      "most of those old 60s doctor who episodes seem to be loads of standing around blabbing then running around some boxes in the bbc basement."

      Once you get past the "Childrens TV budget" level of effects, some of the stories are very good. But you really, really have to remember this was a "childrens" show and hence had a very, very small budget. You only have to look at the historical stories in the Hartnell era to see it was originally intended to be "edutainment" of some form (if that word had been invented back then)

  12. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    However, "Logopolis"

    still stands as one of the best sci-fi stories made for TV ever, anyway.

    And not *just* because of Sarah Sutton .....

  13. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Happy

    On the subject of bringing back old Dr Who's...

    "The Sun Makers" had a great villain in the form of "The Collector" -- an evil tax collector, what's not to like?

    The modern Who team should bring him back, with the comedian Andy Hamilton cast in the part - he'd be perfect.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: On the subject of bringing back old Dr Who's...

      Nah, Andy Hamilton will forever be Satan.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember marvelling as the first Dr became the second Dr

    At the time, and as a child, this regeneration was pure magic!

    Even Dad couldn't explain how they "done it".

  15. Stuart Castle

    Saw Shada at the BFI on Saturday. Got the DVD, but had already pre-ordered the blu-ray.

    In terms of quality, on the blu ray, they have upscaled the original 576i video rather than go back to the negatives and present the lot in 1080p. This was apparently a deliberate choice to maintain the look of the original show. That said, the studio based stuff (which would be most of this story) would have been shot on video rather than film, as UK TV companies mostly only used film for exterior and location shots (I say mostly as I believe some independant producers did shoot the entire programme on film).

    The extras are HD, where available.

    Anyhow, the story is excellent. Lalla Ward wasn't (unfortunately) present at the screening, but she sent a message saying that she always thought Shada was the most Douglas Adams-like Dr Who story, and having seen it, I agree. Oddly, the fact it looks crap almost adds to the enjoyment.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why straight to dvd/download?

    Come on beeb, viewing figures would be huge!

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