Dirk Gently's Shada

By Paul Scoones

When Douglas Adams wrote his first non-Hitchhikers novel, titled Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, which was first published in 1987, he borrowed some material from Shada. More than one book about Adams' works claim that this novel was largely based on Shada with Adams reusing parts of the storyline and replacing the Doctor with Dirk Gently. In actual fact most all of the Dirk Gently novel is original, and the Shada connections account for little of the book.

One of the main characters in the book is Professor Urban Chronotis, the Regius Professor of Chronology, who insists on being called ‘Reg’. He is a Cambridge don, at St Cedd's College, Cambridge and has been living in the same rooms for over two hundred years. He has the same, absent-minded character as the Professor Chronotis who appears in Shada, though the Dirk Gently version does not share his secret identity as a former criminal and he is not a Time Lord. The Professor's rooms are however a disguised time machine (operated by an abacus), and when the time machine materialises somewhere it takes the form of the entrance door.

In addition to Professor Chronotis, his time machine and St Cedd's College, there are five short sections of dialogue lifted from Shada, all but one of which originates from scenes in the first episode:

Doctor Who: Shada
(from the rehearsal scripts)
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
(from the 1988 Pan paperback edition)
CHRIS: Oh. Yes please.
PROFESSOR: (OFF) One lump or two?
CHRIS: Two please.
{Part One, Scene 6}
“Milk?” called Reg.
“Er, please.”
“One lump or two?”
“"One, please.”

“Er, what?” said Richard, startled.
{page 57}
THE DOCTOR: St. Cedd's College, Cambridge. Founded in the year something or other, by someone who's name I forget in honour of someone who for the moment escapes me.
ROMANA: St. Cedd?
THE DOCTOR: Do you know I think it very probably was?
{Part One, Telecine 3}
“St Cedd's College, Cambridge,” he exclaimed, looking at them for the first time in eight years. “Founded in the year something or other, by someone I forget in honour of someone whose name for the moment escapes me.”
“St Cedd?” suggested Richard.
“Do you know, I think it very probably was?”
{page 185}
THE DOCTOR: Yes please.
PROFESSOR: (OFF) One lump or two?
THE DOCTOR: Two please. And two sugars.
PROFESSOR: Ah! Doctor, how splendid to see you!
{Part One, Scene 8}
“Milk?” called out Reg from the kitchen.
“Please,” replied Dirk. He gave Richard a smile which seemed to him to be half-mad with suppressed excitement.
“One lump or two?” called Reg again.
“One, please,” said Dirk, “... and two spoons of sugar if you would.”
There was a suspension of activity in the kitchen. A moment or two passed and Reg stuck his head round the door.
“Svlad Cjelli!” he exclaimed. “Good heavens! Well, that was quick work, young MacDuff, well done. My dear fellow, how very excellent to see you, how good of you to come.”
{pages 187-188}
ROMANA: Three hundred years? In the same set of rooms?
PROFESSOR: Yes my dear. Ever since I retired from Gallifrey.
ROMANA: You'd think someone would notice.
PROFESSOR: One of the delights of the older Cambridge Colleges. Everyone is so discreet.
{Part One, Scene 9}
“How long,” he said, “has this been -”
“Here?” said Reg. “Just about two hundred years. Ever since I retired.”
“Retired from what?”
“Search me. Must have been something pretty good, though, what do you think?”
“You mean you've been in this same set of rooms here for ... two hundred years?” murmured Richard. “You'd think someone would notice, or think it was odd.”
“Oh, that's one of the delights of the older Cambridge colleges,” said Reg, “everyone is so discreet...”
{page 199}
PROFESSOR: ... Oh dear, I've got a memory like a ... oh dear, what is it I've got a memory like? What's that thing you drain rice in?

PROFESSOR: I remember! Sieve! That's what it is. I've got a memory like a sieve.

{Part Two, Scene 1}
“... You'll have to forgive me. I have a memory like a ... like a ... what are those things you drain rice in? What am I talking about?"

“Sieve!” exclaimed Reg.
“Thing you drain rice in. A sieve. I was trying to remember the word, though I forget now the reason why ...”
{page 189, 190}