Hitchhiker's Guide to Doctor Who (as imagined by Douglas Adams)

Billie Piper may be quitting, but fans can look forward to a new story by the cult author

Saving the universe on countless occasions was relatively simple. But overcoming a strike at the BBC proved too much even for Doctor Who, condemning one of the works of a well-loved master of science-fiction, Douglas Adams, to be lost in limbo.

Now a forgotten Doctor Who script by Adams - creator of the hugely successful Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - which was abandoned halfway through filming because of the dispute, has been revived, re-recorded and will be broadcast for the first time by the BBC. The story had widely been seen as the writer's great lost work.

It comes as Doctor Who enjoys a fresh boom on BBC1 after the series was brought back to TV. It proved to be one of the biggest hits of 2005, with Christopher Eccleston in the title role, soon to be replaced by David Tennant. There will be a Christmas special, then a second 13-part run to air next year. Billie Piper, who plays the Doctor's sidekick Rose, was reported yesterday to have made up her mind not to film a third TV series. The BBC refused to confirm or deny that she would be leaving the Tardis.

Adams wrote just three stories for the long-running saga (one of them under the pseudonym David Agnew), while working as a script editor on the series in the 1970s prior to finding success with Hitchhiker's Guide on radio and TV.

But it was his final story, Shada, which has given him a quarter of a century of notoriety among Doctor Who's legions of devotees. The six-part serial was midway through filming when a 1979 strike brought the entire production grinding to a halt. By the time work resumed, so much studio time had been lost that it was virtually impossible to carry on because numerous BBC Christmas specials were booked into the studios. Further attempts to pick up the pieces failed because costs were mounting, production staff had moved on to other programmes and its lead actor, Tom Baker, was in the process of moving on from the show.

Now the production company Big Finish has reworked the series using Adams's original scripts to make Shada into an audio drama, which will be broadcast for the first time on BBC Radio 4's sister station BBC7 next month.

Director Nicholas Pegg said: "Shada became a cause célèbre among Doctor Who fans as the great lost story because it was half-made and abandoned. Douglas Adams's reputation grew and grew after that and he was arguably the most successful writer to cut his teeth on Doctor Who, but there was a great appetite to see it finished. Big Finish negotiated the rights from the BBC and, knowing that I was an aficionado and admirer of Douglas Adams, they asked me to do it."

He managed to gather some of the original cast, including Lalla Ward who played the Doctor's assistant Romana, and John Leeson, who voiced the robotic dog K9. The actor Paul McGann, who played the Doctor in a flop TV movie in 1996, was recruited for the main role.

"I was very lucky to assemble a top-notch cast. I think the fact that Douglas Adams had written it was something special that meant they wanted to get involved. It's not every day that you get a writer of that magnitude whose script has been languishing on a shelf," Mr Pegg said.

Adams recycled some of the ideas from the lost script and incorporated them in his later novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, including the Shada character Professor Chronotis.

The writer, who died in 2001 at the age of 49, became involved in Doctor Who after sending the production office a draft script for his proposed Hitchhiker's Guide radio series. He was script editor for one season. HHGG proved a runaway hit and was quickly adapted for TV. Early this year it was released as a £25m movie starring Martin Freeman.

Doctor Who: Shada will be aired on BBC7 on 10 December from 9am to noon

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Web Developer / Front End Web Developer

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Front End Web Developer (PHP ...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment