The spirit of Douglas Adams, the man who commissioned our next Story From The Scrapheap, looms large over Shylock/The Doomsday Contract, a Season Seventeen submission by John Lloyd, producer of Not The Nine O'Clock News & later one of the men behind QI. See if you can spot him in this gallery of the brains behind the ''quite interesting'' quiz!
Based on material from his unpublished story GiGax, the story would have seen the Doctor summoned to appear in a court case after an intergalactic corporation makes an attempt to buy Earth as part of a bigger plan to acquire a matter-transmutation device.
John Lloyd (not to be confused with the 'John Lloyd credited as studio sound technician on The Ark In Space!) is now a Commander of the British Empire, having been given the gong in 2011's New Year's Honours List, as well as a co-creator/presenter of The Museum Of Curiosity for Radio 4. Among his other BBC credits are Radio 4's The News Quiz, which he created, Quote/Unquote, which he devised alongside Nigel Rees, & Blackadder, on which he served as producer. During a spell working with ITV he was also a co-creator of Spitting Image alongside Roger Law & Peter Fluck. He also worked with Douglas Adams on The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and would later say:
"When I helped Douglas write “Hitchhiker”, I was writing a science fiction novel. We were best friends, and he got stuck – he said, if you help me out, we’ll do the next series together. I gave him my manuscript to mine any ideas he wanted, although in those days, I didn’t really have anything to say.Lloyd also appears in a segment of Me, You & Doctor Who discussing his friend's somewhat eccentric style!
You don’t at 24. You can be clever, articulate and have good jokes, but you don’t have any sense of wisdom of experience. When you weren’t in the room, he didn’t do anything. He was in the bath. Or preparing to get in the bath or just mopping down after one. So he was trying to make it as a freelancer and I was a young radio producer – when I got home after work, he’d leap out of the bath, this porky Neptune, and want to start writing a movie or a sitcom.
He’d spend most of a year on getting a commission for a book and writing the first chapter over and over again, until the publisher turned up with a shotgun and locked him in a hotel – which happened once – or he’d run away to Singapore and write most of the novel on the plane. It’s a lonely business being a writer, particularly if you hate writing like Douglas did. A great deal of the great comedies were written in twos: Palin and Jones, Galton and Simpson, Cleese and Chapman."
Adams himself, of course, has three Doctor Who scripts of his own to his credit- The Pirate Planet, part of The Key To Time, City Of Death alongside Graham Williams & David Fisher under the collective pseudonym ''David Agnew'', & the unfinished Shada.
But what of Lloyds proposed Doctor Who script? Fortunately a synopsis of what would have formed the basis of Shylock/The Doomsday Contract survives-
"While vacationing on Cimmerian II, the Doctor is summoned before the Altribunal of Coelare Coelum, an intergalactic court. He has been called as a witness in a millennia-old case in which the Plenum Trust Corporation (whose Executive Vice President, Smilax, is an old friend) is opposing the purchase of the Earth by Cosmegalon and its unscrupulous owner, Jugend Bruisa."Rewrites were ordered, as:
Plenum had been testing the Spondilas Chamber -- an incredibly powerful device capable of polymorphing matter -- when Cosmegalon bought the Earth via dubious means. Now Smilax fears that Chamber falling into Bruisa's hands. In court, the Doctor gives evidence that the Earth is home to intelligent life, which by law would nullify Cosmegalon's ownership.
He is sent to Earth to retrieve a human as proof. Arriving in mediaeval Yorkshire, the Doctor is prevented from completing his task by the monstrous Children of Pyxis, who have been despatched by Cosmegalon. Fortunately, he is saved from death by the timely intervention of Smilax, and does manage to spirit away the Spondilas Chamber. Nonetheless, with the Doctor having seemingly failed, the court rules in Cosmegalon's favour. However, the Doctor tricks Bruisa and the Children of Pyxis into travelling to modern-day Earth near a missile base, where their ship is annihilated. "
"[John Lloyd] was asked to rein in complex effects sequences and delete the Spondilas Chamber on the grounds that it was irrelevant to the plot. He also had to replace the Children of Pyxis, due to fears that child labour laws would make production difficult. Instead, he came up with a race of desert nomads-cum-mercenaries called the Wadifalayeen, although producer Graham Williams was worried that these new monsters would offend Muslims. Lloyd also recast the Plenum Trust as an altruistic conservation organisation, while the chairman of Cosmegalon was renamed Skorpios."Ultimately Lloyd's commitments to Not The Nine O'Clock News forced him to take a back seat, though producer Graham Williams was still interested in the ideas behind his planned narrative. To that end Lloyd agreed that another writer, Allan Prior, could be allowed to work on the scripts- a development that was agreed to by Lloyd on August 25,1979, though the story had been officially commissioned on February 7 that same year.
Adams then offered his old mate the chance to resubmit the story for Season Eighteen, though a combination of Douglas's eventual departure from the script editor's chair & the aforementioned production commitments to Not The Nine O'Clock News caused the project to finally be abandoned and join the scrapheap.