douglas adams doctor who episode

When Doctor Who premiered in 1963, the BBC probably didn’t anticipate it becoming a worldwide phenomenon and the longest-running science-fiction show in history. If they did, the network would have likely not purged their archives of Doctor Who episodes in the ’70s, resulting in many serials from the First and Second Doctor’s runs to become lost to oblivion.

By the time Tom Baker stepped into his iconic colorful scarf as the Fourth Doctor, this junking policy had been put to a stop. But that didn’t prevent his memorable run as the Doctor from being plagued by its own archiving or production problems. Namely, a famous unfinished 1979 episode written by sci-fi stalwart Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, “Shada.” Adams would only write two other episodes for Doctor Who, but “Shada” was always the “what could’ve been?” after filming for the episode was interrupted by an engineering strike. But 38 years later, “Shada” will finally be finished, with none other than Tom Baker himself reprising his role as the most famous Doctor.

“Shada” was meant to be the final episode of Doctor Who‘s 17th season, follows the Doctor as he faces off against a devious alien scientist who is attempting to locate a hidden Time Lord prison planet named Shada. The unfinished episode was eventually told in full as a radio play, but fans were eager to see the rest of the episode. Unfortunately, strikes wracked Britain for months and the episode was put on the backburner, with some of the existing footage later used in the Doctor Who 20th anniversary special.

But thanks to BBC Worldwide, fans can finally see how the story of “Shada” ends, with Tom Baker back at the wheels of the TARDIS, no less. He and the rest of the original episode cast are returning to voice their characters in animated form, including Lalla Ward as Romana II, one of his most popular companions.

Watch the Douglas Adams Doctor Who Episode Trailer

“’Shada’ was one of my favorite ‘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 [has] found a way to bring fans a complete visual version,” Baker said with the release of the trailer, which combines the old footage with the new animation by Charles Norton.

If the new soundtrack sounds reassuringly familiar, it’s because composer Mark Ayers tried his best to imitate the sounds of the Tom Baker run using the original equipment of the 1970s. Though the trailer only gives a brief glimpse of the episode, which will be released as a digital download and DVD special, it perfectly captures the whimsy of a typical Tom Baker episode, with a modern, action-packed twist.

It’s exciting to see BBC give makeovers to lost or unfinished episodes of Doctor Who, which still unfortunately boasts huge gaps in the runs of the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). While the late Troughton and his bowl cut unfortunately can’t reprise his role for an animated episode, if BBC could adapt some of the Second Doctor’s serials, that would be simply fantastic.

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