The Sarah Jane Adventures was a CBBC series, revolving around investigate journalist and former time traveller Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen). Along with her young friends Luke, Rani, Clyde and Sky, Sarah Jane combatted extraterrestrial threats to the earth. The series was created and executive produced by Russell T Davies, the man behind the relaunch of Doctor Who. The series was a children’s spinoff of the long-running Who, with Sarah Jane herself already a well established and incredibly popular character from the series.
The Sarah Jane Adventures was a great success, winning legions of fans - both children and adult- and numerous awards. However, midway through filming of the fifth series, Sladen sadly lost a closely guarded battle with cancer. Filming was immediately stopped and the BBC announced production on the series would not continue, naturally.
Since Sladen’s death in 2011, various tidbits about where the show was heading have been revealed in magazine articles and interviews. They include:
Three stories of series 5 remained unproduced at the time of Lis Sladen’s death. Those were Meet Mr Smith, The Thirteenth Floor and The Battle of Bannerman Road.
Meet Mr Smith was due to star Alexander Armstrong (the voice of Mr Smith) in a physical capacity. The story would see Mr Smith be transformed into a human, by an alien called Ozmo. Ozmo would force Mr. Smith to work for him, carrying out certain tasks for his nefarious scheme.
The Thirteenth Floor would begin in a newspaper office, where a journalist would go missing. The next day, Rani would begin a work experience placement at the office and would be intrigued by the mystery of the missing journalist.
This was to be a Halloween special episode, taking influence from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The Thirteenth Floor script was cannibalised and restructured into an episode of the first series of Wizards Vs. Aliens, the series created by the SJA production team to save a full film crew from going out of work.
The Battle of Bannerman Road was to be written by show creator and executive producer, Russell T Davies, and looked to be one of the man’s typically loud finales.
Former Doctor Who companion, Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and her grandson Diego would return in the story, last seen in 2010’s SJA story Death of the Doctor.
Professor Rivers (Floella Benjamin) and The Shopkeeper were also due to return.
Long running series villain,The Trickster, was to return. In this episode it would be revealed that he instilled his essence into Sky at the moment of her creation, effectively making her his daughter. The Trickster had been manipulating events to bring Sky and Sarah Jane together.
After a long will they/won’t they? Clyde and Rani would finally get together in this story.
13 Bannerman Road may have been blown up at the climax of the story.
Clyde and Rani may also have been written out of the series at this point. Both actors felt they were ready to leave the series at this point, but no final decisions were made before production came to its sudden stop.
If a sixth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures was commissioned, Russell T Davies hoped to mix things up by relocating Sarah Jane to the fictional Foxglove Village
A sixth series would Also see an adventure starring Ace (Sophie Aldred), companion to the Seventh Doctor, and a cameo by the man himself, Sylvester McCoy.
In the audio commentary for Death of the Doctor (available only on the Doctor Who story The Green Death DVD), Russell T Davies revealed that were the show to continue, Luke Smith would have been revealed to be gay, per the request of the BBC. The corporation wanted to have "just a normal gay character" on children’s BBC.
Seeing what was lying ahead for the series makes it all the more upsetting it was halted in such a manner. Though there are a lot of morsels of information here that would excite fans -old and young alike- perhaps the most interesting planned development was Luke’s sexuality. The series was known and praised for the way it tackled sensitive topics for youngsters, including divorce, loss and homelessness. It would have been a bold move by the BBC and the production team, but looking at the talent behind the series, the chances are it would have played out brilliantly.
It’s also interesting to think of what the series would have been up to in Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary year. Russell T Davies has always unashamedly celebrated the series and its mythology in his work for it, so the chances are he would have went all-out in this landmark year for the franchise. Is anyone else revelling in imagining every companion ever paying a visit to Bannerman Road?
What if Class found a way to bring Luke Smith- Sarah Janes alien son - in? Him and Charlie would have a lot in common I think (saving the world at a young age, aliens, not understand all the pop culture references, being gay?) and they could be passed off as cousins or something. I just miss the SJA and would love to see his character brought back in somehow.
Like with a lot of older Whoniverse characters, I can’t remember the specifics but it was probably “who is this kid in SJ’s attic, she has a son??” lmao
My boy!! My nerd son, I love him so much, I can’t believe he invented Gay Scarf Fashion in England, like, wow, iconic.
Oooh. This is so hard omg. I love the moment where he gets Clyde and Rani to dance together at his farewell party, like what a fucking shipper, can you even believe?? But also whenever he teases Clyde and Sarah Jane, like with Sanjay being his best friend ever ever or that he isn’t going to do his homework lmao
Idea for a story
Luke and Santiago Jones being cute and gay and following Jo and SJ’s legacy in being amazing and fighting aliens while looking great.
??? idk what opinions there are about him so??
Him and Sarah Jane, of course. I get all the feelings. He loves his mum so so much. :’)
That he’s pansexual because of the being made of thousands of humans thing, but has a strong preference for boys just because… he very gay.
I’ve been meaning to make a cute little video like this for Sarah Jane/Lis for quite some time, and because I didn’t have time to make a proper music video (also because I’m still having some trouble with my video program and will be moving on to another at some point), I thought her birthday would be the perfect occasion. I know I’m late or almost late for some people, but it’s still February 1st here.
If you have spent any time arguing with SJ activist bloggers, you may have seen one of the following lines;
“It’s not my job to educate you.”
“Just Google it.”
“I don’t have the spoons to explain it to you.”
Now do you know how I know that an SJ activist blogger is in it just to feel morally superior to others and to good about themselves and really doesn’t give a shit about SJ causes? Because they break out the aforementioned lines.
Now what does an activist do? “Well duh, ChromatophobicCuttlefish, they raise awareness!” You may answer. Well how do you raise awareness? “By educating people about social justice causes!” And there’s the ticket.
Education is a massive part of activism. The onus is not on the average joe to go look up everything YOUR movement is about, it’s your responsibility to know what the fuck you’re talking about, not the person you are talking to. If the potential ally already knew what the hell you were talking about, then most likely s/he would’ve considered your position by now.
Education is the thing that could bring someone to your side of thinking, shrieking at someone like a hyperactive howler monkey about how it’s not your job to raise awareness (which is interchangeable with “educate”) is a surefire way to scare off potential allies and goes against the entire act of activism.
Let’s take a scenario that happened here at my pissant liberal arts college. Some students were gathering signatures to change where the college invests so it wouldn’t fund companies that fund the Israeli Palestine conflict. I fell asleep during world history, so I know fuck all about the conflict. I asked the people who came by my door to tell me about the conflict, what they’re proposing to change, and how it would affect the college. They were more than happy to tell me all about the conflict, handed me a pamphlet that detailed their proposal and history of the companies they wanted to stop investing in. Remember; their goal is to make me aware of the problem and get my signature.
Imagine if they showed up at my door and just rattled off a bunch of SJ lingo. And when I asked them what they’re talking about they just go “Look, not my job to educate you, just go open a history book or Google it or something. Sign the petition.” If you were in my shoes, would you want to sign? Hell no. Because they look like they have no idea what they are crusading for. Which is the exact impression SJ bloggers give when they break out the defensive “go educate yourself” or “it’s not my job to educate you.”
If you are passionate about a cause, you know about the cause forwards, backwards, inside-out, and sideways. If someone asks, you’ll be happy to talk about it. That’s passion and activism. Moral superiority is refusing to raise awareness just to feel good about the fact you stomped some unknowing person’s face in by calling them a bigot for not knowing what you could’ve just fucking told them. It’s the equivalent to holding a child’s toy just out of their reach and watching them flail around to grab it.
SJA: Prisoner of the Judoon/ The Mad Woman in the Attic
I continue my look at the children’s Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures.
236: The Sarah Jane Adventures: Prisoner of the Judoon/ The Mad Woman in the Attic
“You find it all so difficult. GCSEs and Judoon. Your parents and Sarah Jane Smith.”
Format: 4 episodes, each 25 minutes long
Writers: Phil Ford/ Joseph Lidster
Team Bannerman Road:
Sarah Jane Smith
Prisoner of the Judoon:
Sarah and the gang face the most dangerous day of their lives as the rhino-like Judoon return. When prisoner Androvax the Annihilator crash-lands on Earth, the Veil is set free to turn Earth’s technology against itself. As the Judoon fleet approaches Earth, it’s a race against time to stop Androvax. With Genetec Systems’ technology on the rampage and Rani’s parents taken prisoner, can anything stop the Army of the Infinitesimal?
The Mad Woman in the Attic:
The year is 2059. In the derelict attic of 13 Bannerman Road, an elderly Rani Chandra tells the story of the day she met the alien Eve and her life went wrong…
What I liked:
The Judoon was hilarious
Anjili Mohindra gives her best performance as Rani
Lovely to have a different kind of story
What I disliked:
Not much new stuff in Prisoner
Overall thoughts: Prisoner of the Judoon is pretty standard fare. A Judoon crashes lands conveniently near to Bannerman Road and his prisoner Androvax escapes and takes over Sarah Jane’s body. Androvax wants to destroy earth with nanobots (or ‘nanoforms’ as they are called here) and the kids have to save the day and avoid Rani’s parents finding out about it. The details change but ostensibly it’s very similar to previous stories.
The highlight of the story was the Judoon- they have been fairly dull in themselves other than their looks but there’s a lot of humour to be had from having to obey every minor rule. Sadly the nanobot thing is unconvincing- Androvax upgrades them with a random USB stick and they are nanobots, we shouldn’t be able to see them!
After Clyde being the focus in an episode last series, Rani is the focus of The Mad Woman in the Attic. It has a timey-wimey start with an old Rani in the attic alone and we see how we got there. It deals well with feelings of isolation, using Rani replacing Maria as a way of dealing with this. It’s also lovely to have a different kind of story- there’s no villain here at all as both Eve and Ship are misguided perhaps but basically OK. Eve is a superb character and really well delivered by Eleanor Tomlinson (best known as Demelza in Poldark) but sadly looks dreadful, simply plastered with red make-up.
The episode continues to surprise us. The boy who visits old Rani turns out to be Ebe and Sam’s son (which certainly makes you think) who sorts out the alternate timeline. Unexpectedly K9 returns after Ship uses the black hole for power and it’s great to have him back. Then we get a look at the future and see an old Rani happy in the attic with her grandchildren (who are mixed raced, hinting heavily at Clyde and Rani actually ending up together). It broadens the show’s horizons and is much better than a simple run around.
Next Time: The Doctor turns up at Sarah Jane’s wedding!
I continue my look at the children’s Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures.
237: The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith
“You’re so important. Not just to me. The Trickster wanted to end your story, but it goes on. The things you’ve done, Sarah, they’re pretty impressive, but, oh, the things you’re gonna do.
Format: 2 episodes, each 25 minutes long
Writers: Gareth Roberts
Team Bannerman Road:
Sarah Jane Smith
Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)
After Sarah Jane starts acting suspiciously, Luke, Clyde, Rani and K9 investigate. They discover she has a boyfriend, Peter Dalton, and they are going to get married. Clyde suspects Peter may be an alien. At the wedding, the Trickster returns. As the gang find themselves trapped in a time loop in Limbo, can the Doctor save Sarah, her friends and the entire planet Earth from the wrath of the Trickster?
What I liked:
The Doctor! Great to have him here!
Deals with the prospect of step-parents well
It’s romantic and heart-breaking
What I disliked:
The Doctor doesn’t really do anything
Overall thoughts: This is another superb Sarah Jane Adventures story. It would be great without the Doctor here but he’s the icing on the (wedding) cake.
The first half is great as it allows us to spend some time with the characters without the end of the world being imminent. It’s only until the dying seconds that the threat becomes obvious. It’s a decent love story for Sarah Jane and it’s great to see her so happy here. Elisabeth Sladen really manages to portray love excellently here. It also uses this as an excuse to tackle the concept of step-parents and it’s done well. There is great suspicion from Clyde and Rani but Luke’s reaction is more subtle. He’s just confused, not sure what life might be like with Peter and worried about how his life will be changed by it.
Then we get a superb cliffhanger as the Doctor turns up and demands the wedding is stopped. It’s such a trope of film and TV and wonderful to see the Doctor get to do it. It’s interesting to note the way the Doctor is shown here. There’s still a hint of the cockiness that defines the later part of this incarnation but he’s a lot of fun here and really builds up the Attic gang. I like to think he is more contained here as he is with friends and the story subtly shows again why the Doctor needs companions.
The Trickster remains a great villain and this is a particularly nasty plan. Saving a man’s life, directing him to marry Sarah Jane and then force her into his agreement or being stuck in Limbo. In the end it’s Peter who saves the day which is heartbreaking. It’s a similar end to Father’s Day but at least then we knew Rose’s Dad ought to be dead. Here Sarah Jane’s true love sacrifices himself for her.
The best thing for me is the way the characters get a really good chance to interact with each other. For the first half of the story there’s no threat and in the second half there’s no time limit or immediate danger of death so it feels a bit different. The three ‘kids’ are superb characters and seeing them spend time with the Doctor is really lovely. It’s also great to have K9 around too, he’s a great addition- a lot of fun but also a handy way of quickly explaining sci-fi ideas.