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22 October 2014

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Shada | Episode Three
Director's notes by Nicholas Pegg
ShadaHere's a funny thing. Probably more than half of the people who heard this episode during post-production have asked me whether the scene with the telephone answering machine was a mistake. "People didn't have answerphones back in 1979, did they?" is a question I've been asked repeatedly over the last few weeks.

So you'll be pleased to know that (a) the answerphone scene does indeed hail from the original script, and (b) answerphones existed long before 1979, as demonstrated by the opening credits of The Rockford Files (first transmitted in 1974), not to mention Paul Evans's inelegantly titled 1978 novelty hit 'Hello This Is Joannie (The Telephone Answering Machine Song)'. It's possible that I'm the only person who can actually remember the latter, but believe me this is probably a good thing.

One slight amendment in this episode was brought about by my casting of Sean Biggerstaff as Chris Parsons. If you're familiar with the original Shada footage, you may remember that having learned that Chris was educated at Bristol Grammar School, the Doctor refers to him as 'Bristol' all the way through the story. This was an element that Gary Russell had elected to remove from the script, feeling (rightly, I think) that it was an idiosyncratic touch more in keeping with Tom Baker's Doctor than with Paul McGann's.

When I cast a Glaswegian actor as Chris, the surviving line about Bristol Grammar School suddenly seemed a little incongruous - so we changed it in the studio. I asked Sean to name some schools around where he'd grown up, and having tried out a few names for size we plumped for St Aloysius. In doing so, we erased what is probably Doctor Who's only reference to Bristol - which, ironically, was the very town in which we were recording.

© Nicholas Pegg 2003.

Read more Director's Notes >>
Making Shada, casting Chronotis and more.

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