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Doctor Who is the series that keeps on going, as it had been carrying on in some way or other for more than half a century now with a number of different actors playing the lead role of the Doctor. Of the 12 regular actors who have portrayed the Doctor, Tom Baker--a.k.a., the Fourth Doctor--was the longest-serving lead with his stint running from 1974-1981, and he remains one of the most beloved to tackle the role. Baker reprised his role as Four in order to complete a major episode that went unfinished for nearly 40 years.
Back in 1979, Season 17 of Doctor Who was all set to come to an end with an episode called "Shada." Unfortunately for fans, a BBC strike kicked off while the episode was filming, and only about seven hours of footage what recorded. The episode was never completed in the original run of the series, and none of the revival seasons have tackled it either. BBC Worldwide finally took the initiative to piece "Shada" together using animation to fill in gaps of live-action footage. Original scripts and original actors are on board, including Tom Baker. As it happens, however, Baker won't just be contributing his voice talents.
Tom Baker will appear in freshly-recorded live-action footage of the Doctor, and there won't be any special effects to age him down to match his look from 1979. The Guardian reports that he'll portray the Doctor as an old man, which... should be interesting. While Tom Baker technically has appeared in Doctor Who many years after Four's regeneration into Five thanks to his cameo in the 50th anniversary special, it's not clear just how Four will appear as an old man in "Shada." Four wasn't an old man in Season 18 of Doctor Who, and his regeneration into Five should have meant that he wasn't around to age as Tom Baker. Unless the Doctor someday regenerates back into Tom Baker, we're probably in for a new timey-wimey twist in "Shada."
Producers did go the extra mile to guarantee that most of the new live-action footage of "Shada" will match the footage left over from 1979. They reportedly used TV cameras from the 1970s for filming as well as the original TARDIS set and an old-school model of K9. The portions of "Shada" that had to be animated will obviously stand out, but at least the original cast will be lending their voices.
This isn't the first time BBC has used animation to fill in the gaps of incomplete or partially lost episodes. Last year, the six-part serial called "The Power of the Daleks" that was damaged due to a BBC archive purge was filled in with animation, and it worked well enough. It should be fun to see how "Shada" compares to "The Power of the Daleks."
"Shada" was released on iTunes in the United Kingdom on November 24, although it is not yet available in the U.S. BBC will release the episode on DVD on December 4. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV news, and don't forget to take a look at our 2018 midseason TV premiere guide. The next event on the Doctor Who front will be the Christmas special that features the Twelfth Doctor interacting with the First Doctor. You can catch the Christmas special on December 25 at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America.