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The Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes 2 &
Revenge Of The Slitheen
Maria and Luke begin their first day at their new school, where they quickly befriend charming troublemaker Clyde Langer. But not everything seems right at Park Vale Comprehensive: the food in the cafeteria has gone off, there's a mysterious new technology wing, and some of the teachers have developed a peculiar problem with flatulence. With Sarah Jane's help, the three kids discover that schools all over the world have been infiltrated by the Slitheen, who intend to wreak their vengeance on the entire planet.
When Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies pitched the idea of a series focussing on Sarah Jane Smith to CBBC, he piqued their interest with a single story concept: Sarah Jane versus the Slitheen. The Slitheen had been introduced in Aliens Of London / World War Three, part of the first season of the relaunched Doctor Who, and held a particular appeal for younger viewers. As such, it was felt that they were an ideal nemesis to appear in what became The Sarah Jane Adventures, which was being designed to skew towards a more juvenile audience than Doctor Who itself. Although the introductory special, Invasion Of The Bane, saw Sarah Jane and her friends tackling a brand-new alien threat, Davies felt that the Slitheen were the perfect attraction for the opening story of the first full season of The Sarah Jane Adventures, cementing the new programme's connection with Doctor Who.
The writer assigned to the season premiere was Gareth Roberts, who had co-scripted Invasion Of The Bane with Davies. In addition to the inclusion of the Slitheen, Roberts was also asked to introduce a new regular character in the form of Clyde Langer. Clyde had been developed by Davies as a replacement for Kelsey Hooper, whom Roberts had created for the special. Although Kelsey's attitude and cynicism made an appealing contrast to the other young characters -- Maria Jackson and Luke Smith -- it was felt that The Sarah Jane Adventures could benefit from a second male protagonist. As such, Kelsey actress Porsha Lawrence-Mavour was not brought back for the full season and Clyde was devised to inherit many of Kelsey's basic traits. Some reports also suggested that Lawrence-Mavour had been a disruptive presence on set.
Meanwhile, the production team of The Sarah Jane Adventures had been rounded off with the addition of Matthew Bouch, who would take over as producer on an ongoing basis after Susie Liggat had served in that capacity on Invasion Of The Bane. Bouch had been a script editor or script executive on programmes such as Holby City, EastEnders and the telefilm remake of A For Andromeda. He had also co-produced The Legend Of The Tamworth Two.
Roberts' script -- eventually titled Revenge Of The Slitheen -- was part of the first recording block of the season, paired with the second story, Eye Of The Gorgon. The director was Alice Troughton, who had recently completed Small Worlds and Out Of Time for Torchwood. Troughton's other credits included Doctors, Holby City and EastEnders.
Cast as Clyde was Daniel Anthony, an actor who had appeared in multiple episodes of EastEnders and Doctors. Unlike his co-stars Yasmin Paige (born in 1991) and Tommy Knight (born in 1993), Anthony was already an adult -- in fact, just a few months shy of his twentieth birthday. As such, he was not subject to British laws limiting the hours per day which child actors were permitted to work, providing the production team with additional flexibility when it came to the recording schedule.
Filming for Block One began on April 16th, 2007, but the first two weeks were almost exclusively devoted to Eye Of The Gorgon in order to help establish the cast dynamic before embarking on the crucial premiere episodes. The only exception was a scene in Maria's bedroom, taped at Upper Boat Studios on April 19th. The first full day of filming on Revenge Of The Slitheen was April 30th, which began on Clinton Road in Penarth for material on Bannerman Road, before moving to Cardiff where Whitchurch High School posed at St Cheldon's Comprehensive. Production then returned to Clinton Road from May 1st to 3rd.
Except for its new block, Park Vale Comprehensive -- the school attended by Maria, Luke and Clyde -- was really Cardiff High School, the venue for filming on May 4th and 7th. The next location was an old factory at the Johnsey Estates in Pontypool, for sequences in the Slitheen capacitor room. Recording there took place from May 8th to 10th, with part of the latter day also reserved for the American news broadcast -- with Lachele Carl reprising the role of the news anchor she had played several times on Doctor Who since Aliens Of London / World War Three -- which was taped at BBC Cardiff. The scenes in Park Vale's new block were then completed at the Cardiff campus of Coleg Morgannwg starting on May 11th, and continuing after the weekend from the 14th to the 16th.
May 17th and 18th were split between sequences in Sarah Jane's attic at Upper Boat, and those at Coldfire Construction, taped at Unit A5 on Severn Road in Pontypridd. Additional attic material was recorded at Upper Boat on the 21st. The next day, the scene of people watching the sun was performed on Ffordd-Y-Gollen in Pontypridd. Work then wrapped up on the 23rd, first with exterior shots of Coldfire Construction (again at A5) and then a variety of inserts at Upper Boat. The latter included the first use of an improved version of the Mr Smith prop. For Invasion Of The Bane, the computer had emerged from the wall by means of a hand-crank, which proved to be a slow and arduous process; this was now made much more efficient by the introduction of a motor.
However, in editing it was found that both episodes of Revenge Of The Slitheen were too short, and so additional material was written to fill out the runtime. All of this was set on Bannerman Road, so that Troughton could record the new scenes on Clinton Road on June 25th, during work on The Lost Boy. Graphics elements for Mr Smith were also captured on July 2nd at Upper Boat. Oddly, alongside a gallery of other monsters from Doctor Who and Invasion Of The Bane, Mr Smith displayed an image of Abaddon from End Of Days, the final episode of the first season of Torchwood -- despite the fact that the production team had decided not to refer to that programme in The Sarah Jane Adventures, given the significant discrepancy in the two shows' respective target audiences.
On August 14th, the BBC announced that episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures would debut on the CBBC digital channel, although on September 7th it was confirmed that the season premiere would air first on BBC1. After this, episodes would settle down into a regular pattern of being repeated on BBC1 one week after their CBBC broadcast. Consequently, Revenge Of The Slitheen part one aired on BBC1 on Monday, September 24th, followed immediately afterward by part two over on CBBC. (Part two then received a terrestrial transmission on BBC1 on October 1st, just before Eye Of The Gorgon part one debuted on CBBC.) The strategy was successful, with the first installment bringing BBC1 its largest audience so far that year in the timeslot, and CBBC then seeing its best ratings of 2007 to that point for the concluding episode.
|Updated 8th July 2017|
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