DOCTOR WHO: Shada (1979)

Unproduced fantasy, science fiction and horror films, TV shows and episodes…

Doctor Who - Shada

A serial the original series of Doctor Who that went unmade due to industrial action.



Doctor Who is a science fiction show about time travel that went from 1963 to 1989 and returned to screens in 2005.  The main character, “The Doctor” can “regenerate”: cheat death by returning with a new face and personality.

Written by then script editor, Douglas Adams, “Shada” was set to be the final episode of season 17, but production was interrupted by industrial action.


Douglas Adams


The Fourth Doctor and his companion Romana visit Cambridge and the Doctor’s mentor Professor Chronotis, the only person who knows the location of the Time Lord prison planet Shada.  While the trio search for a missing book “The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey” – taken by one of Chronotis’s students – Doctor Skagra attempts to discover the location of the lost prison planet.


The 6 episode story was set to be produced from mid-October to early-December 1979.  When the technicians suddenly called a strike in Mid-November all of the location shooting in Cambridge had been completed, as well as a block of studio work: “Professor’s Room, SKAGRA’s Brig, and Space Station.”  When the strike finished in December, priority was given to producing Christmas episodes for various shows and the episode was never completed.



Because production began it was assigned a production code (5M) and many fans see that as conferring on it official status.

Shada LegacyWhen Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor) refused to return for the 20th anniversary in 1983,  unused footage was edited into “The Five Doctors” to explain why the Fifth Doctor didn’t join with the others.

Douglas Adam’s first Dirk Gently novel “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” was released in 1987 and contained elements from Adam’s “Shada” script as well as “City of Death” a season 17 episode that was produced.

In 1992 the unused footage was released on VHS, with linking narration by Tom Baker.

In 2003, “Shada” was released as a webisode with limited flash animation.  This time it featured the Eighth Doctor and the return of Romana and K-9.

Despite the fact that Adams didn’t think the episode was very good and refused to allow a novelisation of “Shada” (or his other Doctor Who stories) his estate allowed it and a novelisation by Gareth Roberts was released in 2012.

~ DUG.

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