Doctor Who and Shada

Author's Notes by Paul Scoones

Chapter 5: Skagra

The chapter begins with a short scene in which Romana shows up in the TARDIS and rescues the Doctor, who has been trapped in an alleyway. It's a familiar sequence as the second of two Shada scenes adopted for use in The Five Doctors (or at least it was until it was excised from the ‘Special Edition’ version of that story).

Following this is an unrecorded scene set in the TARDIS console room. The on-screen text description that I had to work from when I wrote this scene for the first edition was very brief, with no dialogue provided. This presented a challenge to me in 1988 as it was apparent that by the time the Doctor and Romana arrive back in the Professor's rooms, they have each brought the other up to speed on what's occurred. So I reasoned that there had to have been some expository dialogue here (perhaps given that this was near the beginning of Part Three, perhaps this exposition was also intended to clue in viewers who'd joined the story late?). So the version of this scene which appeared in the first edition was by necessity my own invention. When I later got hold of the script, I was interested to see that although the lines were completely different, it covered much the same ground. Here's the scene as it appeared in the first edition, but replaced in all later versions:

The Doctor mopped his brow with a large handkerchief, struggling to regain his breath after the trial of the chase. ‘Well done, Romana, well done!’ he exclaimed, shaking her by the hand. ‘If you hadn't turned up at that moment, who knows what would have happened!’ He wiped his forehead again, and leaned against the console. ‘How did you find me?’ he asked.

Romana smiled. ‘K9 traced the sphere from the voices it emits,’ she explained.

‘Ah.’ He bent down beside K9. ‘Good boy, K9. What do you know about that thing?’

‘All we know is that it attacked the Professor, Doctor,’ Romana told him.

‘The Professor?!’ exclaimed the Doctor in disbelief.

‘Affirmative, Master,’ confirmed K9. ‘The Professor's life has been terminated.’

Visibly shocked, the Doctor straightened up.

‘I think the sphere stole his mind,’ added Romana quietly.

‘I'm afraid that's not the only bad news,’ the Doctor informed her. ‘I also managed to lose the book. We must get it back!’ He turned to the controls, and prepared to rematerialise the TARDIS, deep in thought.

There's a bit I've added into the scene in the Professor's room which comes from the script. On screen after the Doctor tells Chris that he's the one causing trouble, Chris responds ‘Me! Where's the book?’ The missing segment, inserted between Chris's two sentences, has Romana informing the Doctor that she's told Chris about the TARDIS.

After Chris says ‘His body just disappeared into thin air’ there are a couple of missing lines inserted from the script, in which the Doctor demands to know what Chris has done with the Professor's body and Romana tells him to calm down and that it's not Chris's fault.

When Chris recounts the Professor's dying words to beware the sphere, the Doctor's aside, ‘Now he tells me’, comes from the script.

When Shada is first mentioned, the Doctor mentions that he's heard it before, which is again from the script. The Doctor's speculation that the sphere is ‘moping around’ looking for him is also from the script, as is Romana's line ‘Doctor, if it's still looking for you...’

When Clare arrives in the Professor's rooms, she arrives just too late to see it leave on screen, but in the script she's in time to see the dematerialisation. I preferred the script version as I felt it helped to establish the character's progression as she's confronted with many strange events, so that's what appears in the novelisation. I followed this up with a reference to Clare's sighting of the TARDIS in a later scene in this chapter and again in Chapter 6

The scenes in the field with Skagra's invisible spaceship had a few changes. The Doctor's first line as he spots the sphere is taken from the script.

The Doctor remembering his mime lessons from Marcel Marceau was my own invention which I think is perfectly in keeping with the Fourth Doctor, whom in other stories has admitted to associating with the likes of da Vinci, Nostradamus and Shakespeare. The reference to Marceau first appeared in the 1991 edition. In the 1989 version I simply wrote that to Chris it looked like the Doctor was enacting a mime routine.

The scene in the field in which the Doctor, Romana, Chris and K9 discuss the invisible spaceship represented something of a stumbling block at the time of the 1989 first edition. The problem was that the fan-produced video used as the source for that first version of the novelisation was missing K9's dialogue on location, which would have been dubbed in post-production had the story been completed. So although it was apparent that the actors were leaving pauses for K9's lines, we had way of knowing what those lines were and Jon had to leave blank lines in his transcript. Based on what the other characters were saying to K9 and their reactions to his unheard responses, we brainstormed what K9 might have said. K9 has seven lines in total in this scene, and we managed to correctly guess three of them. Later of course we had the script and later still the BBC Video release (which had K9's lines dubbed into the scene) to enable us to see how far off the mark we'd been, and these were corrected in the later editions. When the Doctor berates K9 about not warning him about the spaceship, we had ‘You didn't ask, Master’, when the line was ‘I assumed you could see it, Master’. The third line was in response to Romana's question, ‘What is it K9?’, and after some head-scratching we came up with: ‘An intergalactic starship, equipped with a light-wave refraction field, Mistress.’ In actual fact the line was: ‘A spacecraft, Mistress, of very advanced design. Many of its functions are beyond my capacity to analyse.’ We were furthest off the mark when the Doctor asks K9 ‘What's it powered by?’ There's a short pause and then the Doctor responds ‘Aren't we all?’ That was a challenge. Aren't we all what...? Jon and I tossed various suggestions back and forth, and although neither of us was happy with the solution, the rather unwieldy line we came up with to fit the Doctor's response was ‘An advanced system involving the uptake and conversion of raw materials into useable energy, Master.’ Imagine our reaction when we finally laid eyes on the script and saw that the line was actually ‘Insufficient data.’ I suppose that short pause should have clued us in! When Romana asks ‘What does it look like?’ we had ‘A large cigar, Mistress,’ when the correct line was in fact ‘Very large.’

The same problem occurred with the next scene in the field in which the Doctor and friends enter the spaceship, but fortunately this time it was just one line. The Doctor says ‘Affirmative K9, affirmative’ in response to what was for us originally an unheard line from K9. We decided on ‘Advise caution, Master’, but the line, according to the script, was ‘The door is opening, Master’.

I switched the running order of a couple of scenes in this chapter, a change first made for the 2001 edition, which allowed the merging of two pairs of scenes into longer sequences. The first two segments of the Doctor's conversation with Skagra are joined together (the join occurs after Skagra's line ‘Come with me, Doctor’). The scene that originally appeared between these two scenes is the short segment in the Professor's rooms in which Clare searches fruitlessly for Chris and Chronotis. The scene ends when she hurries out of the room but rearranging the sequence enabled me to merge this with the follow-up scene in which Clare runs into Wilkin in the college courtyard. This scene appears slightly later in the episode in the BBC Video release.

Return to Chapter 5.
Chapter 6 Notes