Review By Paul Mount, 3.5 out of 5


As all good DOCTOR WHO fans know, ?hada?is the ?ost?DOCTOR WHO story; not lost in the sense of all those half-written, commissioned and/or abandoned stories which litter the show? production history. No,?hada?the concluding story of the original series?seventeenth season, actually started filming but had to be abandoned due to one of those pesky internal BBC strikes which seemed to happen with monotonous regularity back in the 1970s when the Beeb still made their own programmes. Desperate attempts at remounting the story came to nought and the adventure passed into history as a missed opportunity and fans were left tantalised by glimpses of what we might have witnessed from this mysterious script from the Godlike genius of Douglas Adams. Over the years ?hada?has yielded up its secrets. A dodgy fan reconstruction surfaced years ago and eventually the BBC released the existing material onto video with then-Doctor Tom Baker narrating the missing bits in character. Now Big Finish, purveyors of fine new DOCTOR WHO product in audio form and holders of the flame in the wilderness years since the McGann TV movie, have gone back to the source material and recreated ?hada? initially for webcast on the BBC? own DOCTOR WHO webpage but now for commercial CD release. Eighth Doc McGann takes over the role of the Doctor in a nifty bit of script tampering and the result is?ell, it really just reinforces the popular view that ?hada?probably really wasn? that much cop after all. I seem to recall the late Mr Adams actually expressed much the same view in his lifetime.

In an opening sequence which is practically an orgy of continuity references, McGann? Doc returns to his home planet Gallifrey where his former assistant Romana (Lalla Ward) is now Madam President. The Doc? concerned because his memory of the events of ?hada?have gone missing, partly because of the fact that he and Romana were lifted out of time at the beginning of the story for reasons which viewers of the 20th anniversary story ?he Five Doctors?will be achingly familiar. There? a mystery here and the Doctor persuades Romana and K9 (Leeson) to travel back to Earth to fill in the blanks?

Technically ?hada?is a joy. Big Finish have mastered this audio lark now and the six episodes are so well-realised that it? not difficult to put your own pictures to the sound. Music and sound effects are combined with glorious perfomances – not only from a rather stellar guest cast (the sorts of thesps we might hope to see on the upcoming TV revival,if they?e interested – no Ross Kemps or Robson Greens for the new series please, Mr Davies!) – but especially McGann who seems to be loving every minute of Adams? arch dialogue, (although much of it is so clearly intended for Tom Baker? leering, larger-than-life portrayal) and Lalla Ward who sounds not a day older than she did when she left the TV show in 1980. The story? typical of late 1970s runaround DOCTOR WHO; a maniac bad guy is running around Cambridge draining brains with a mysterious floating sphere and the Doctor arrives to locate a long-lost missing artifact from Time Lord mythology. Throw in a long-imprisoned super-villain, an invisible spaceship, bemused humans and some crap monsters and voila?nstant DOCTOR WHO. The initial character-based couple of episodes inevitably descend into the usual shouting matches and whizzy sound effects but ?hada? despite its shortcomings as a drama, is always entertaining, a nice reminder of a time when DOCTOR WHO was still fun and not quite so obsessed with itself. Times we all hope may be just around the corner again? Until then, a hole in DOCTOR WHO? history has been nicely plugged.

More to explorer