Unfinished Doctor Who story ‘Shada’ finally completed with Tom Baker reprising role

Tom Baker in Shada
The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Cambridge student Chris Parsons (Daniel Hill) in animated form for the newly completed version of Doctor Who’s Shada.

Tom Baker is returning to Doctor Who in order to finally complete a story set in Cambridge, 36 years after it was abandoned due to strike action at the BBC in 1979.

Shada, which was written by Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams, will use original footage filmed in Cambridge for the story, combined with new colour animations and voiceovers to complete the story.

Industrial action at the BBC meant Doctor Who studio shooting and a planned night shoot were disrupted, resulting in the story being dropped from the 17th series in December 1979, before being officially cancelled a year later. The episodes were never broadcast, although some footage was used in the 20th anniversary special, The Five Doctors, after Tom Baker declined to participate in the multi-Doctor story.

The story centres around the Time Lord prison planet Shada, where some of the Universe’s most dangerous criminals are locked up. Flawed genius Skagra is attempting to locate the planet to help him create a “Universal Mind” using the combined knowledge of the criminals ,which he plans to use to take control of the Universe.

While Shada has been deliberately hidden by the Time Lords, Skagra discovers that there is a Gallifreyan living on Earth in the twentieth century who may hold the key to its location. This Time Lord is masquerading as Professor Chronotis, a professor at St. Cedd’s College, Cambridge. Sensing danger, Chronotis calls for the assistance of his old friend and protégé, the Doctor.

Speaking about returning as the Doctor to record the missing dialogue, Baker said: “Shada was one of my favourite Doctor Who stories.

“I have many fond memories of shooting the location scenes in Cambridge, and it was disappointing not to finish the story in studio. I’m so glad that BBC Worldwide have found a way to bring fans a complete visual version.”

Also joining Baker is Lalla Ward, his ex-wife who also played companion Romana. Ten years after divorcing Baker, Lalla married Kenyan born British academic Richard Dawkins, although the couple are now separated.

The team behind this latest Doctor Who project also produced the remastered version of lost episode The Power of the Daleks and missing Dad’s Army episode A Stripe for Frazer.

Paul Hembury, Executive Producer, BBC Worldwide said, “Fans loved The Power of the Daleks, so we’re delighted to be able to complete and bring them another lost Doctor Who classic.”


To complete this unfinished Doctor Who story, the production team were given access to nearly seven hours of raw footage from the original 1979 Cambridge shoot. They edited the new production from scratch with all the original film negatives re-scanned in full HD.

Doctor Who: Shada will be released on Friday 24th November, initially as a digital download and then on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 4th December.