Doctor Who and Shada

Author's Notes by Paul Scoones

Chapter 1: Professor Chronotis

The 1989 edition opened Chapter 1 with a scene set aboard the TARDIS. The fan video had a piece of on-screen text at this point in the story which simply said ‘The Doctor receives a message from an old friend and heads the ship for Earth.’ To cover this, I invented a sequence in which, in addition to receiving the message from Professor Chronotis, the Doctor also completed the repairs to the TARDIS console he'd started in the previous story, and Romana changed her outfit. I was keen to establish that Shada followed on directly from The Horns of Nimon to help reinforce its correct position in the series chronology. This scene was cut from all subsequent editions because once I had the rehearsal scripts I discovered that there was no such establishing scene in the TARDIS.

Here's that deleted scene:

‘What we need is a holiday,’ declared the Doctor. ‘Somewhere quiet, peaceful, uncomplicated. Somewhere where we can relax, safe in the knowledge that nothing will attack us or ask for help.‘ He was packing away his tool kit, having completed a long series of repairs and modifications to the TARDIS console, none of which, the Doctor was reluctantly forced to admit, would have proved necessary in the first place if he hadn't taken it upon himself to make a slight modification to the conceptual geometer, a task which involved dismantling half the control systems, including the dematerialisation circuits.

He stowed the tool kit away in the console plinth, and then stood up, saying, ‘Don't you agree, Romana?’ The console room was deserted. ‘Romana?’

The Doctor's mobile self-powered computer, K9, came into view from the far side of the console. ‘The Mistress has been gone for some minutes, Master.’

‘Really, where?’ the Doctor wanted to know, a little miffed that his suggestion had fallen on deaf ears.

‘She went to change in the wardrobe room, Master.’

‘Oh.’ The Doctor busied himself looking over the console, intact once more. ‘Did you check the control systems?’ he asked.

‘Affirmative, Master. TARDIS systems now operating at normal rate of efficiency,’ reported K9.

‘Good. I like to have everything running smoothly.’

‘Negative, Master.’

The Doctor rounded on his dog. ‘What do you mean, “Negative”?’ he demanded.

‘Everything is operating as normal; not in all cases smoothly, Master,’ K9 informed him.

The Doctor scowled, and picked a crumpled book up from the console. He flicked through the pages of the TARDIS manual for a moment, and then returned it to the usual position - under one leg of his wobbly hat stand in a corner of the Console Room.

From the hat stand itself, he took down his coat, hat, and long multi-coloured scarf, and put them on.

‘What do you say to a holiday, K9?’ inquired the Doctor, jamming his hat onto a mop of brown curly hair.

‘Question not understood, Master. Please rephrase.’

‘Never mind, K9, never mind.’

At that moment, Romana entered. She had exchanged her fox-hunting costume for an attractive white top with lace sleeves and a long patterned cream skirt.

‘You know, Romana,’ began the Doctor instantly, ’What we need is -’

‘A holiday,’ she smiled, completing the sentence. ‘I agree. We haven't had a proper holiday since Paris.’

‘A proper holiday!’ exclaimed the Doctor. ‘You call that trip to Paris a proper holiday? Scaroth wasn't exactly the perfect host, was he?’

‘No, you're right. Where did you have in mind?’ she asked.

The Doctor thought for a moment. ‘There was somewhere I was meaning to take Leela, but we ended up on Fang Rock instead. I wanted to catch the opening of the Brighton Pavilion...’

‘Brighton Pavilion?’ asked Romana. The term was unfamiliar. ‘Where's that - no, let me guess - Earth.’

The Doctor beamed. ‘But of course.’ He moved around the console with the intention of setting the coordinates. ‘Where else in the Universe would you find somewhere like Brighton?’

‘Master,’ said K9 suddenly.

‘Not now, K9,’ said the Doctor. ‘I want to get these coordinates exactly right this time...’

‘What is it, K9?’ asked Romana.

‘The TARDIS has picked up a message addressed to the Doctor from a Professor Chronotis of Cambridge, Mistress. He invites the Doctor to visit him.’

‘Well why didn't you say so, K9?’ asked the Doctor, calling the message up on a small screen. ‘I haven't seen my old friend in ages. I wonder why he wants me to visit him now?’ He looked up at Romana and smiled. ‘We can visit him in May Week - that's when he sent it,’ he told her after reading it.

‘Who's Professor Chronotis?’ asked Romana.

The month is given as October, but in the first edition it was ‘September’ which was an error as the Doctor later states that it is October (the same month that the story was recorded on location). When Chris Parsons arrives at the college and asks for directions, he's directed to ‘P-14’. In the first edition the line is given as ‘314’ but corrected for subsequent editions.

As with Skagra, for the 2001 edition I revised the text to hold off identifying both Chris Parsons and Professor Chronotis until they're named in the dialogue. Fortunately in this case Chris mentions his and the Professor's name early in their first scene together, so the changes required here to achieve this were minimal.

Chronotis' mention of ‘young Professor Frencham’ who was 90 when he died, comes from the script.

When the Professor settles down to read a book we see on screen that he's reading H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. I included the first line of that book as I thought this led rather nicely into the next scene, in which we have a time traveller expounding on certain matters...

The Doctor and Romana's punting scene on the river Cam is the most familiar segment of Shada through its reuse in The Five Doctors. When adapting this scene I naturally referred to Terrance Dicks' novelisation to see how he'd tackled it, and discovered that he'd changed some of the dialogue. This novelisation of Shada sticks to the lines recorded for this scene, so grab a copy of The Five Doctors book and compare the dialogue (on pages 24-25) to see where Dicks has made his changes.

The on screen dialogue for the punting scene is however completely different in the script. I resisted any temptation to incorporate the scripted lines into the novelisation here, opting to let this well-known scene play out just as it did on screen.

When the Doctor recalls climbing a tree to drop an apple on Newton's head, this is a nice piece of continuity with another Douglas Adams story, The Pirate Planet, in which the Doctor tells Romana about doing this (see Chapter 11 of David Bishop's TSV Books novelisation Doctor Who and the Pirate Planet).

It was tempting, when novelising Shada to acknowledge the events of The Five Doctors in the novelisation. Since the Doctor and Romana are time-scooped from the punt and are later seen to depart in the TARDIS (in the transmitted version at least), the implication is that the rest of the events of Shada consequently never take place (and presumably Skagra is therefore unhindered in his plans for universal domination). I toyed with the idea of rectifying this problem in such a way that logically allowed the rest of the adventure to take place as intended.

For the first edition I considered having the Doctor and Romana time-scooped from the punt and then immediately reappearing on the boat with only the vaguest awareness of what had just happened to them. I decided that this wasn't really workable, mainly because straight after this they're discussing the mystery of the voices from Skagra's sphere and it seemed like one too many conundrums for the characters to ponder, and that it was best to ignore the whole issue of The Five Doctors.

I revisited the idea of acknowledging The Five Doctors when I was working on revisions for the 2001 edition. This time I considered adding a whole new section at the beginning of the book which would have formed a new prologue that would also have meant that the existing prologue would have been moved to open Chapter 1. I devised a new sequence in which a pair of Time Lords from the Celestial Intervention Agency has been tasked with locating and repairing the instances of temporal disruption caused by the operation of the timescoop. The sequence begins with the Doctor and Romana punting down the Cam. The time-scoop swoops in and abducts them. The Time Lords freeze time at this point and decide that this is the moment at which the disruption occurred. The Time Lords note that as a result of this interruption only scattered pieces of the Doctor and Romana's timeline during the course of this adventure remain - which of course is a reference to the fragmentary nature of the recorded material for the story - and the Time Lords resolve to ‘edit’ events so that the timeline is restored to its proper course. Before I'd gone as far as writing this sequence, I had a change of heart and decided that I preferred to present the story as if it had been novelised at the same time as the rest of the Season 17 novelisations, which precluded even the slightest reference to the events of The Five Doctors.

When Gary Russell later wrote the opening sequence for the Shada BBCi/Big Finish webcast he coincidentally took a similar approach, suggesting that Shada had been left ‘incomplete’ because of the Doctor and Romana's timescooping in The Five Doctors. Rather than having the CIA putting things right however, the Eighth Doctor and an older version of Romana pick up the adventure where their younger selves left off.

The first unrecorded scene of the story is set in Chris Parsons' laboratory, when he arrives back from visiting the Professor and starts to examine the book. All of the unrecorded segments in the novelisation are adapted from the rehearsal scripts, however for the 1989 edition which was written before the scripts were available, the source for these scenes was the on-screen text from the fan video version which summarised the scripts.

When the Doctor and Romana walk up to the college, there's a lovely line from Romana in the script, ‘I should be a nursemaid’ which appears in place of the on screen line ‘I am a historian’. I've omitted this line in all previous editions, favouring the line heard on video, but revisiting the text for this e-book, I've performed a slight rewrite to accommodate both versions.

Wilkin is only ever named ‘Porter’ in the script, and the Doctor only ever refers to him as ‘sir’. Wilkin's wonderfully understated reaction, ‘Just as you say sir’, when the Doctor says he visited in a different body, is from the script.

Having quoted the first line of The Time Traveller earlier in the chapter, I followed this with the last line of the book when Professor Chronotis finishes reading. Again, it's a nice link to the events of the story as the line says that the time traveller never returned - and the Doctor then pays a return visit to the Professor.

The chapter ends mid-way through the first episode. The 1989 and 1989 editions each had six chapters that matched the six episodes. The 2001 edition formed part of a set of five novelisations all of which were intended to match their contemporary Target counterparts, so because many of the Target books have each episode divided up into two or more chapters, I split each episode approximately down the middle to create a set of twelve chapters. The chapter names were also first used in the 2001 edition.

Return to Chapter 1.
Chapter 2 Notes