Doctor Who and Shada
Author's Notes by Paul Scoones
The on-screen opening sequence in which Skagra steals the minds of his Think Tank colleagues and departs in his spaceship forms a natural prologue to the story since it is so disconnected from the rest of the Cambridge-bound scenes of Part One. This sequence forms the prologue in all editions of the novelisation.
In the first and second editions, the novelisation opened with a two-word paragraph: ‘Six dreamers.’ This is inspired by the opening words of Alan Dean Foster's Alien and Aliens novelisations. In 1988 when Jon and I were preparing the first edition, Aliens was still a relatively recent film and I'd been reading a number of Alan Dean Foster novels, including Aliens, so it was fresh in my mind. When I revised the text for the 2001 edition, I re-wrote portions of the prologue, including dropping the ‘Six dreamers’ line in favour of an establishing description of the Think Tank space station. Although it was a nice in-joke I decided that the idea that the scientists were dreaming didn't really accurately describe what was happening in this opening scene.
The counter display in the Think Tank chamber uses roman numerals, which is rather unusual. I used the roman numerals when describing the counter ticking down (and then up again) in the 1989 edition, but for the 1991 edition I decided to change this to conventional numbers, thinking that this was more in keeping with the futuristic nature of the space station. For the 2001 edition I changed it back to Roman numerals simply to be faithful to the scene as it was recorded.
Another change I decided to make for the 2001 edition was to delay naming Skagra. In earlier editions Skagra is named from the moment he appears on screen, but had the story been broadcast, the first mention of his name would have come in Part Two when Professor Chronotis warns Romana to ‘Beware Skagra’ and then at the end of that episode - a third of the way through the story - Skagra finally introduces himself when he first meets the Doctor. I decided to keep this air of mystery about the character's identity for the 2001 edition, necessitating changes to the text for his appearances in the prologue and throughout most of the first four chapters.
The poor picture quality of the fan video copy used as the reference source for the 1989 edition meant that Jon and I were unaware that Skagra had distinctive scars on his face. It was only when we saw the Shada BBC Video release that this became apparent, resulting in another change for the 2001 edition.