Doctor Who and Shada

Author's Notes by Paul Scoones

Chapter 8: Think Tank

The scene re-sequencing continues in this chapter. On television, cutting back and forth between parallel plot strands can help to keep the viewers' attention, but on the page in a novelisation this ends up as a set of short blocks of text and is much less satisfying to read. A solution is to rearrange these short scenes to create much more substantial sequences, linking scenes together so that they seamlessly flow on from each other. I did a lot of this resequencing in my novelisation of Resurrection of the Daleks, but with Shada the structure of the narrative rarely lends itself to this sort of rearrangement. Part Four however sees the narrative follows three distinct plot strands that don't link up until the following episode. First is the Doctor, Chris and K9 travelling to Think Tank aboard Skagra's ship and then exploring the space station; second is Romana and Skagra aboard the Krarg Carrier ship and the TARDIS, learning how to use the book to get to Shada, and the third strand is Professor Chronotis and Clare in the Professor's room. The televised episode would have jumped back and forth between these strands. The re-sequencing was introduced for the 2001 edition of the novelisation, and was an extension of the work I did at that time to divide each of the episodes into two chapters apiece.

This chapter begins with by covering all of the Romana and Skagra material from the latter half of the episode, which originally formed five separate scenes. Then it's on to the Doctor Chris and K9 stuff, which forms the bulk of the chapter, with an interlude for the single Chronotis scene, repositioned from slightly earlier in the episode to cover a jump in the narrative as the Doctor and Chris move from Skagra's ship into Think Tank.

The Romana and Skagra scenes are adapted from the script, as are the scenes with the Doctor and Chris when they're aboard Skagra's ship. Once we move into Think Tank it's all recorded, with the exception of the cutaway scenes of K9 battling the Krarg aboard the ship.

There are a number of small differences between the scripted and recorded versions of the scene in the Professor's room. Chronotis' line ‘I don't mean to sound portentous’ comes from the script. Chronotis talks about tangling with his ‘life streams’ which is again from the script - on screen it is ‘time fields’. I chose to go with the script here because ‘time fields’ is mentioned in a different context a few lines earlier so as well as seeming a little clumsy, might also have been a case of the actor confusing the two lines. The scene ended on screen with Chronotis's line ‘it is imperative that he be stopped’, but the script continues with a few more lines that I've reinstated in the book.

Chris's line ‘Where are we?’ is said by the Doctor on screen. The Doctor's response ‘Where do you think we are?’ is from the script, as is Chris's later line ‘What is this place?’

Curiously, Chris name-checks one of the following season's stories, State of Decay. It's possible that the line might have provided the inspiration for the story title (which was renamed mid-production, in May 1980).

The Doctor's line ‘Oh, just breezed in. Now, what have you been up to, hmm? Who are you all? Skagra's accomplices?’ is from the script, as is his later line ‘Unlike those poor creatures.’

When I took a holiday in the Greek Islands in 2004 I realised that Douglas Adams had named the Think Tank scientists after names associated with the Greek island of Santorini: ‘Caldera’ is a geological term describing the island's submerged volcanic crater, ‘Thira’ is the official name of the island, ‘Santori’ is a contraction of Santorini, and ‘Ia’ and ‘Arotiri’ are both popular tourist spots on the island. It's interesting to consider that another area of Santorini is called ‘Skala’, which could have given rise to ‘Skagra’ and possibly also ‘Shada’. The connection became clearer to me when I read M.J. Simpson's Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams (Hodder & Stoughton, 2003), which reveals that Adams had visited Santorini in the summer of 1973 whilst hitchhiking around Europe.

When the Doctor talks about the wits being scared out of him, Chris's response ‘Unfortunate phrase’ is from the script. The Doctor's response to K9 saying that is power is at danger level, ‘So are his! Try!’ is also from the script.

The conclusion of this chapter marks the end of Part Four.

Return to Chapter 8.
Chapter 9 Notes