Sunday, 19 January 2020

526 Shada: Part One

EPISODE: Shada: Part One
TRANSMITTED: Unbroadcast (planned for 19th January 1980)
WRITER: Douglas Adams
DIRECTOR: Pennant Roberts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Douglas Adams
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: Unbroadcast
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Shada

"Professor, you know that perfectly well. Rassilon had powers and secrets that even we don't fully understand. You've no idea what might have been hidden in that book!"

A museum, filled with the Doctor's old foes. An aged Fourth Doctor/Tom Baker wanders around recalling those he beat until he comes across the Krarg, his foe from Shada, the unfinished Doctor Who story.

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And thus, to some excruciating late 1980s Doctor Who music, opens the video and first DVD for Shada. Doctor Who fans are used to dealing with bits of stories, with much of the early years of Doctor Who missing and just solitary episodes of stories remaining. But even then Shada is an odd beast: the six part story that was meant to close Season 17, is unique in that filming was started but aborted after the location work and the first of three studio sessions. What is left is most of the first two episodes and little pieces of the remainder.

Last time I blogged this story, with the video and scriptbook, I attempted to treat it as a proper story. Easy enough for the first two episodes, where we could look at the cast and location filming onscreen. Episode 3 onwards it got a little more difficult. Since then however a new DVD version has been issued animating the rest of the story to a new soundtrack featuring as much of the remaining original cast as possible but most importantly including both Tom Baker and Lalla Ward which to my mind makes it as close to a definitive version as we are likely to get. However it's a bit of shock to loose the Tom introduction we're familiar with, replaced by a 1970s BBC Globe with Toby Hadoke continuity and a pre title sequence featuring some new model work!

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On the Think Tank Space station Doctor Skagra uses a sphere like device to drain the minds of his colleagues and leaves in his spaceship for Earth, leaving an automated quarantine message running. In Cambridge 1979, Professor Chronotis has a visit from one of his students, Chris Parsons, who accidentally leaves with the wrong book. The Doctor & Romana, after enjoying a spot of punting during which they're observed by Skagra & distracted by voices from the sphere he's carrying, visit the professor. Chris discovers that the book is written in a completely alien script. Chronotis reveals to Romana that he is an elderly Time Lord who has retired to Earth and has been living in the same Cambridge rooms for 300 years. The Doctor asks him why he was summoned by him to Cambridge but the Professor can't initially remember, later recalling he needs the Doctor's help finding the book. Chris analyses the book using various instruments which make it smoke and glow. Skagra steals a car and the driver's ability to drive. The Professor reveals the missing book is one he brought back from Gallifrey. Skagra drives out to a field where his spaceship is concealed, invisible from the human eye. The Professor confesses the book he took was The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey, which dates back to the time of Rassilon, and is known to have incredible power. Skagra receives word that all is ready from his carrier ship, commanded by a massive Krarg.

Hmmm. Of all the episodes of Shada this is the most complete: there's only two cuts away to Tom's narration in the VHS version. The first is Chris analysing the book in the lab which is restored for the new 2017 version - the lab throws in a Power Station control panel as a little joke!

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The telephone box sequence threw me slightly but checking the scriptbook I see that was originally set in the lab.

The other major piece of missing footage was the closing sequence of the episode with Skagra on the bridge of his ship talking to his allies the Krargs on the carrier:

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I'd felt for a while that so,me of the pacing feels a bit odd which I didn't think was helped by Keff McCulloch's music on the VHS version, replaced by a new Mark Ayres score in the style of then current composer Dudley Simpson on the 2017 DVD version. But I think the main problem is some poor editing of the material: the 2017 version times in at 28 minutes before you get to what would have been the end of the first episode! The opening scene just drags and could use a trim (What did the scientists think Skagra was doing when he drained their minds? They've obviously entered whatever experiment he's carried out cooperatively), the stealing a car sequence is just odd with a lingering shot of the retreating car. The Tardis parked in the corner of Chronotis' rooms is handled very oddly indeed, a brief glance from the Professor then it just sits there till Chris sees it and the Professor dismisses it as "someone must have just left it there". Of course he knows the Doctor, and would know what his Tardis looked like, so maybe he's just being dismissive and nonchalant about the oddness.

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As for oddness..... what on Earth is Skagra wearing and why is nobody in Cambridge giving him funny looks? Deary me!

The "milk, one lump or two" joke used here may be familiar to you. For why see later on in the story.... Equally you may well have seen the punting scene in this episode: it was reused as part of the Five Doctors to cover the absence of Tom Baker. Douglas Adams reuses his earliest published work during this episode too with the joke about the man who has forgotten what word his mind is like (sieve).

The majority of the cast in this story appear in this episode: Playing the lead role of Professor Chronotis is Denis Carey. This would have been his first Doctor Who role but he'll return as the Keeper in The Keeper of Traken and as the Old Man in Timelash, again directed by Pennant Roberts who helms this story. Carey can also be seen in I, Claudius where he's Livy in What Shall We Do About Claudius? and Blake's 7 where he plays Docholli in Gambit.

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The Villainous Skagra is played by Christopher Neame who also has a Blake's 7 to his name playing Colonel Quute in the season 4 episode Traitor. A few years later would emigrate to America and make a career out of playing villains, usually English, on the American small & large screen. He appears there in Babylon 5 playing Knight Two in And the Sky Full of Stars, Star Trek Voyager as Unferth in Heroes and Demons and Star Trek: Enterprise as the German General in both parts of Storm Front.

Playing College porter Wilkin is Gerald Campion who had obtained fame a generation earlier in the Television version of Billy Bunter.

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One of the scenes not filmed for this episode would have featured one of the Krargs: these would be voiced by James Coombes, who later plays Paroli & voices the Sentinel 6 satellite in Pennant Roberts's Warriors of the Deep and appears in the Robin of Sherwood stories Herne's Son and The Time of the Wolf as Grendl. The unfilmed Krarg leader would have been played by our old friend Harry Fielder according to the production paperwork. He'd appeared twice with the Second Doctor Patrick Troughton as a Guards in the European Zone in Enemy of the World, returning as a Wheel Crewmember in Wheel in Space. His one appearance with Jon Pertwee is as a Guard in Pertwee's last story Planet of Spiders and He appears much more regularly with Tom Baker's Doctor starting a a Vogan in Revenge of the Cybermen after which he gets a run of credited appearances as a Guard in Seeds of Doom, a Guard in Deadly Assassin and the Second Assassin in Face of Evil, before returning to the supporting artists as a Titan Base Crewman in Invisible Enemy and a Leviathan Guard in Ribos Operation. He's credited again as a Guard in The Armageddon Factor. He returns as a Tigellan in Meglos and a Security Guard in Castrovalva. He was also a regular extra in Blake's 7 appearing as an Armed Crewman in Space Fall & Cygnus Alpha, a Scavenger in Deliverance and a Federation Trooper in Weapon, Trial, Voice from the Past, Children of Auron, Games, Warlord & Blake. From my youth I remember him as the security guard in CBTV but in a long career he's been in everything!

At the start of the episode you see the scientists working with Skagra to achieve his goal: A S T Thira, G V Santori, L D Ia, I Akrotiri & Doctor A St John D Caldera. In amongst them, in the middle of the first photo, is a young Graham Cole making what would have been his first Doctor Who appearance. He returns as a Zero Gravity Squash Player in The Leisure Hive, a Marshman in Full Circle, the Melkur statue in The Keeper of Traken & Time Flight, a Kinda in Kinda, a Cyberman in Earthshock & The Five Doctors, Crewmember in Resurrection of the Daleks and a Jacondan in The Twin Dilemma. He was also in Blake's 7 as one of Gerren's Associates in Games and a Federation Trooper in Blake. Nowdays he's best known for having played PC Tony Stamp in The Bill for over 25 years!

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Kenneth Sedd had been a Wheel Crewmember in The Wheel in Space and a Bi-Al Member in The Invisible Enemy. He returns as an an Argolin Guide in The Leisure Hive, one of the Airport Management in Timeflight and a Guest Gambler in Enlightment. He's also in Doomwatch as a Man in You Killed Toby Wren, Flight Into Yesterday, The Inquest & The Logicians, a Barman in High Mountain and a Man in Club in The Killer Dolphins. He appears in our favourite Adam Adamant Lives! episode D for Destruction as a TA Soldier and in A Sinister Sort of Service as an S.S. Guard. He was a long term associate of comedian Benny Hill appearing frequently in his programs.

I think he's sitting clockwise from the chap with the moustache and can be seen to the left of centre in the second photo. I'm told that the chap clockwise of him, with a moustache, Skagra is Terence Creasy but I'm not so sure: he was a Crewman in Nightmare of Eden and returns as and one of Lexa's Deons in Meglos. He was in Blake's 7 as a Kezarn Native in City at the Edge of the World and a Rebel in Rumours of Death. In Hi-de-Hi! he plays Yellowcoat Gary.

That leaves Norman Bradley, who had been a Skonnan Guard in Horns of Nimon and returns as a Holiday Maker in Leisure Hive, a Cyberman in Earthshock and a Guard in The Five Doctors, and Tony Graham, who I can't find on IMDB and has no other Doctor Who appearances.

On location we have a David Cole playing a student, but the problem here is we believe there are TWO David Coles who have worked on Doctor Who. There is a David Cole who played Billy Clanton in 1966's Gunfighters He was born on April 8, 1936 so, aged 43, is likely to have still been working at this time. During this period there's a supporting artist under this name playing a Crewman in Nightmare of Eden, a Student in Shada, a member of the Pangol Army in The Leisure Hive, a Savant in Meglos, a Citizen in Full Circle, a Kinda in Kinda, a Student in Arc of Infinty, a Schoolboy in Mawdryn Undead, a Mutant in Mawdryn Undead, One of Ranulf's Knights, a Spectator & a Beggar in King's Demons and a Trooper in The Awakening. Some of those could well be the David Cole from the Gunfighters but The Students in Shada & in Arc of Infinity and the Schoolboy in Mawdryn Undead would seem to require a much younger actor and indicate that there is a second one so who knows quite how these roles are split!

Other students include Richard English & Harry Bunges, both of whom are also passerbys in episode 2.

We also have a Don played by Colin Thomas who was a UNIT Soldier in Doctor Who and the Silurians, Sole in The Face of Evil, a Mentiad in The Pirate Planet and a customer in Cafe in The City of Death - is he the only person apart from Tom Baker and James Muir in all three Douglas Adams stories? He returns as Foster in Keeper of Traken, a Logopolitan in Logopolis, a Gallifreyan in Arc of Infinity, an Elder in Planet of Fire and a Pallbearer in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Two days after this episode was planned to be broadcast the Blake's 7 episode Volcano was shown.

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