How to Watch the Lost 'Doctor Who' Shada Episode

Fret not diehard American Whovians: You have options.


A lost Doctor Who episode written by Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy creator Douglas Adams has finally been completed almost four decades after its conception. Until now, “Shada” was little more than a doomed, frustrated dream. But recently, BBC finally released a complete version of the lost Doctor Who episode featuring the 4th Doctor.

But where can fans find the new (but actually very old) episode, which clocks in at a whopping 138 minutes? Good news and bad news: You can watch it right now — just not in the United States.

Several iterations of “Shada” have popped up over the years in audio and novel form, but the actual episode was never successfully completed — until now.

The story features Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor alongside Lalla Ward as the Time Lady Romana. “Shada” was originally supposed to close out the 1979 to 1980 season of Doctor Who, but strikes at the BBC and other management decisions prevented it from ever reaching completion. A compelling story saw decades of frustrated efforts to complete the story to varying degrees of success, that is, until a BBC restoration project edited together the existing footage with newly animated sequences. Those new scenes feature the voices of the original cast, including Baker, who is now 83.

Check out the official trailer for a look at what the final product looks like:

If the animation style looks familiar, that’s because it’s done by the same team behind the “Power of the Daleks” restoration, led by Charles Norton at the BBC.

Here’s what happens in the story of “Shada”:

The Fourth Doctor, his robotic dog K-9, and his Gallifreyan companion Romana – the Time Lady – travel to 1970s Cambridge, England, in response to a distress call for help. A former Time Lord, now a university professor, has summoned them for a seemingly simple task: he needs them to return a book he “borrowed” back to Gallifrey. However, owing to his absent-minded nature, Professor Chronotis has forgotten that a young student has accidentally borrowed the book, mistaking it for a reference book on carbon dating, and it’s up to the Doctor to retrieve it.
However, to complicate matters, a megalomaniacal alien scientist called Skagra is seeking the book too, because it hold the key to finding the mysterious Shada. Shada, a forgotten Time Lord prison, is home to some of the worst criminals in the universe, and Skagra hopes to steal their knowledge and create a single Universal Mind. With the race now on to find the book and keep Shada’s location secret, can the Doctor outwit his latest enemy and save the universe?

So How Can You Watch It?

Be careful: The DVDs you might find with release dates in 2013 are simply a DVD re-release of the VHS compilation that was made in 1992, which is far from the complete newer version. The cover art you’re looking for, whether it’s DVD or Blu-ray, looks like this:

Romana and the 4th Doctor in "Shada".


“Shada” was released for digital download on November 24, 2017 — but only from the United Kingdom. Digital downloads from iTunes are region-locked to the UK, so unless you have a UK iTunes account, you can’t make the purchase.

Thankfully, “Shada” came out in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on December 4, 2017 which means you can easily get a physical copy anywhere in England via Amazon with free shipping.

In the United States Amazon marketplace, you can find the same DVD or Blu-ray version on Amazon but with a release date of September 4, 2018.

Assuming you don’t want to wait nine months to receive your copy, you can technically order from the UK Amazon Marketplace using a US Amazon account.

Shipping will probably take 6-10 business days or more, and it’ll only cost you a few British pounds as opposed to free Prime shipping. But fret not: Because of Brexit, conversation rates against the dollar are better than they’ve been for Americans in decades. Just keep in mind, if you buy a DVD from the UK, that probably means it’s a region 2 format, which won’t play on a region 1 DVD player. However, Blu-ray’s usually aren’t locked by region, so if you’re willing to wait out the shipping time, you can score the Blu-ray for $23.96 on Amazon right now.

The "Shada" Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray.


For the more hardcore collectors, the limited edition steelbook version is only about 8 GBPs more, which puts you right over the $30 mark.

So what are you waiting for? Christmas?