Upcoming Doctor Who Novel Based on Unfilmed Douglas Adams Episode

Upcoming Doctor Who Novel Based on Unfilmed Douglas Adams Episode


The episode that helped inspire Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency was never filmed, but it's being adapted into a new book by the BBC.

It's not common knowledge, but Douglas Adams -the man who created The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- wrote a couple of Doctor Who episodes back in the 1970s. However, it turns out that Adams wrote a third episode that was never completed, but it now turns out that the episode is going to be published as a novel by BBC Books next year.

The episode, "Shada" was originally supposed to air back in 1980, but was never filmed because of a strike that held up production. After that, new producer John Nathan-Turner asked the BBC for money to finish the episode but was denied. Parts of the eepisode were then included in 1983's "The Five Doctors"; a VHS tape of "Shada" was eventually released, and actor Tom Baker narrated the scenes that hadn't been filmed. An audio version of the episode was released, though Paul McGann took over Baker's acting duties as the Doctor at this point. Adams, meanwhile decided to use several ideas from the episode in his acclaimed novel, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

The book version is being written by Gareth Roberts (who has already written some other novels in the Doctor Who universe), the man who recently penned the excellent episode "The Lodger."

Here's the synopsis of "Shada":

In "Shada," the Doctor and Romana are summoned to Cambridge University to visit a retired Time Lord, who's living incognito as Professor Chronotis. It turns out Chronotis has kept one very special book that he took from the Time Lords' planet, Gallifrey, and an evil, mind-stealing alien named Skagra wants the book for himself. The book will reveal the location of the prison world Shada, home of Gallifrey's most notorious criminal, Salyavin.

It will be interesting to see if Roberts is able to successfully adapt Adams' writing style, which is pretty unique. That said, "The Lodger" was one of my favorite episodes of the most recent Doctor Who season because it was simultaneously bizarre, epic, cute, and (in the end) incredibly heartwarming. Hopefully the novel will do Mr. Adams some posthumous justice.

Source: Guardian via io9


I have the VHS pack which also contains the screenplay, it's a good story, one of the better of classic Who in my opinion, it's a shame it never got completed properly. City of Death was my first ever Who and still my favourite, which was largely written by Adams.

Also there is a visual comic type thing floating around on the official BBC site which I believe is off the Paul Mcgann audiobook. I haven't viewed the other versions besides the video so I'm not sure what they're like.

Maybe Adams can be the Tupac of the literary world.

I greatly enjoyed Dirk Gently and its sequel... I'm interested so see how this new book turns out.

Unfortanately, I've only seen one episode of Doctor Who in my entire life (one of Tom Baker's, I believe) so I feel like I'd have a lot of catching up to do before I can even start the thing!

If I remember rightly, parts of Shada also appeared in The Five Doctors - The Doctor and Romana in a punt on the Cam - and parts of THHGttG book 3.

Douglas Adams is directly credited for the second Key to Time episode, title, "The Pirate Planet" (MISTER FIBULI!!!!!)

ALSO: The episode "City of Death" (one of the best episodes EVER, any doctor, any day, you bring yours, I'll bring this, you can just pay me now because you already lost) has many Dirk Gently elements, including the notion of a dead alien on earth from long ago trying to get time travelers to save his doomed mission. Also, the cafe scene with the sketch artist.


On a lighter note, this story title always made me think this, after a certain year:

"And, after we got to her apartment, it was shada shada shada, ate some cereal, crashed for the night, went to work the next morning."

"Did you just 'shada shada shada' sex?"

Yeah, I just mixed Seinfeld and Doctor Who. Sue me.


ALSO: The episode "City of Death" (one of the best episodes EVER, any doctor, any day, you bring yours, I'll bring this, you can just pay me now because you already lost)

I do love your butler, he's so violent!

And of course:

While I do love the Shada story, I'm not sure that someone new re-writing it is such a good idea. I'm a big Doctor Who fan, and a massive Douglas Adams fan, I've seen the Tom Baker version and heard the Paul McGann version. I just feel that a remake of the story by someone who isn't Douglas Adams will probably just end up being disappointing. Especially given that the new series last attempt to remake an old Doctor Who story (Family of Blood), while still a good episode, didn't come close to the original.

Next thing you know they'll try to continue Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy without D. Adams....... oh wait they already f'd that one up :(

Why not go ahead and ruin his name in the Dr. Who Universe as well.

I saw a Flash-animated cartoon "Shada" starring Paul McGann; I presume this is the audio recording everyone else is talking about? This was carried by the BBC, soooo...which one would be canon? The Flash animation w/McGann? The novelization w/Smith? Or the original (though incomplete & unaired) w/Baker? Or did it technically never happen (gorram Time War)?


Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
Register for a free account here