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Trivia / Doctor Who S17 E6 "Shada"

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  • Acting for Two: David Brierley (K9) also voices the computer.
  • Bury Your Art: Douglas Adams attempted to do this with the serial. Adams disliked the story, refused to license it for novelization (it eventually got one in 2012, over a decade after his death), and nearly would've had the serial buried completely (barring some clips being recycled for "The Five Doctors") had he not absentmindedly signed an agreement in 1992 that allowed the BBC to release a reconstruction of it.note 
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  • Creator Backlash: Douglas Adams was happy that the story was abandoned, because he thought it was not up to much. In 1992, he accidentally signed away rights for The BBC to make a direct-to-video version of it with linking narration by Tom Baker, and was so distressed by this that he declared he would give away every penny of the proceeds he made of it to charity as penance.
  • Development Gag: The Big Finish version stars the Eighth Doctor instead of the Fourth. The story starts when he gets an invitation from Professor Chronotis — he remembers that when he was "all teeth and curls" and he and Romana went punting on the Cam, they were taken out by a time scoop, kept confined between dimensions for just over two hours, and delivered back onto the Cam once the crisis was over. But they were supposed to visit Professor Chronotis that day, and neither he nor Romana, now Lady President of Gallifrey, remember why they never visited their friend. This means that in the Big Finish Doctor Who continuity, the original version of "Shada" never happened.
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  • Follow the Leader: The BBC decided to finish Shada after the success of the reconstruction of "The Power of the Daleks".
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Douglas Adams didn't think very highly of this story; fans however consider it one of his best.
  • Old Shame: To the shock of many fans, Douglas Adams viewed the story as this, publicly stating that he'd only signed the release to allow the 1992 VHS issue of what was made to go ahead because he hadn't noticed that it had been included in a folder with a bunch of other routine paperwork.
  • The Original Darrin: The Big Finish version replaces David Brierley with John Leeson as K9; Leeson was the original voice and had returned as K9 from 1980 onward.
  • The Other Darrin: Lalla Ward (Romana) was the only actor to return for the 2003 Big Finish/webcast version.
  • Posthumous Credit: Denis Carey (Professor Chronotis) and David Brierley (K9) both died several years prior to the 2017 animated reconstruction. Both appear in the animated segments via recycled dialogue from other episodes (K9 only makes short responses to other characters, and Chronotis has a single line taken from "The Keeper of Traken", which Carey played the Keeper in; this was the only unfilmed scene Carey would have had dialogue in, and the rest of Chronotis' lines are given to the Doctor). Additionally, due to K9's recycled audio, several conversations involving him required rewrites to give most of his dialogue to other characters.
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  • Promoted Fanboy: Daniel Hill (Chris Parsons) reveals that he was a fan of Who as a boy.
  • Romance on the Set: Daniel Hill, who played Chris Parsons, met his future wife Olivia Bazalgette (she was the production assistant) during the location filming of this story. They married two years later and remain so to this day!
  • Saved from Development Hell: This story may set the record for the longest time for a TV show episode between start of production and initial airing: thirty-eight years.
  • Troubled Production: A minor case for the 2017 release — according to this crew commentary, due to technical errors part of the Ship's dialogue during a conversation with the Doctor was lost, requiring director Charles Norton to reconstruct the Ship's side of the scene with alternate lines pulled from elsewhere in the story.
  • Unfinished Episode: One of the most famous examples. After industrial action killed the serial, leading to a premature end to Season 17, incoming producer John Nathan-Turner ordered the footage preserved with an eye toward remounting the story and broadcasting it as part of Season 18. This plan was vetoed by his superiors at the BBC, partly owing to the changes in tone to the programme made by Nathan-Turner himself, and cast changes at the end of Season 18 made a remount impossible after that point. Even so, Nathan-Turner stored the footage, and was eventually able to create the direct-to-video version with Baker's narration, an early instance of JNT leveraging archive material to make Doctor Who video merchandise. Eventually, after three close attempts to get the story to viewers (the narrated version, the webcast and the novelization), the BBC were, after 38 years, able to get Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and all the surviving cast members to reprise their roles in animated sequences to fill in the unfinished scenes.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The union strike that scuppered the original 1979 production was really bad timing — it was resolved less than two weeks later, but many of the other programmes affected by it were key parts of The BBC's Christmas schedule and were thus afforded higher priority. When John Nathan-Turner took over as producer shortly after it was decided by the previous production team that there was no hope of getting "Shada" completed, he considered re-editing it as a Christmas special consisting of two double-length episodes, but this proved to be impossible with the available footage. Before the 1992 VHS release, Nathan-Turner also considered one in 1985 with then-incumbent Doctor Colin Baker providing the links, but nothing came of this.
    • According to Nothing At The End Of The Lane's commentary article on the production of the 2017 release, after the idea for a double-length two-parter fell through, Nathan-Turner reconfigured his Christmas special idea and made plans to make "Shada" a standard four-parter for the 1981 holiday season (this being just after six-part serials were completely abolished), featuring newly-written material to compensate for the required cuts. However, it too was cancelled.
    • Chronotis was originally Killed Off for Real in Episode Two, but Douglas Adams had become fond of the character and decided to bring him back.
    • The famous scene where the Doctor is chased by the orb while on a bicycle was supposed to take place at night. The fact that it was shot in the daytime implies that it was intended as a day-for-night scene, but all official reconstructions keep the daytime visuals.
    • Head of Drama Graeme MacDonald suggested a romantic subplot between Romana and Chris, but this was ignored.
  • Working Title: Sunburst.
  • Write What You Know: Douglas Adams chose Cambridge as a setting so he could draw on his experiences as a student at the university.

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