The Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes 4 & 5:
Eye Of The Gorgon

Plot

Rumours of a ghostly nun lead Sarah Jane, Luke and Clyde to the Lavender Lawns retirement home. There, Luke makes the acquaintance of dotty old Bea Nelson-Stanley. But Bea has secrets of her own, and one of them is an alien talisman she has been hiding for decades, and now entrusts to Luke's care. The talisman is actually the key to a portal leading to the planet of the Gorgons -- the infamous monsters of Greek myth with the power to turn men into stone -- and the nuns who serve the last Gorgon on Earth will stop at nothing to get it back.

Production

After relying on Gareth Roberts for the first two stories of The Sarah Jane Adventures, showrunner Russell T Davies next turned to a former colleague who was new to the Doctor Who family. Phil Ford's writing credits included episodes of Coronation Street, Footballers' Wives and The Bill, and most recently Davies had been impressed by his work on the revival of Captain Scarlet. The two had renewed their acquaintance at the BAFTA premiere of The Parting Of The Ways, the finale of the first season of Davies' Doctor Who relaunch. This meeting put Ford in Davies' mind when he was developing The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Ford was delighted to write for a character whom he remembered fondly.

Ford's initial suggestion was a story dealing with the mythology of Ancient Egypt, but this notion was discarded in favour of a creature from a different folkloric tradition: that of classical Greece. The Gorgons were monsters which appeared in various incarnations throughout the Greek legendarium. Most famously, they were three sisters -- Medusa, Stheno and Euryale -- who could turn a man to stone by looking into his eyes. The Greek hero Perseus beheaded Medusa, who had writhing snakes for hair, by using a mirror (or a polished shield) so that he did not have to look directly at her. Medusa had briefly appeared in Doctor Who when she was encountered in the Land of Fiction during the events of 1968's The Mind Robber. Ford thought that the concept of the Gorgon was a promising basis for a story, and held particular potential because he felt it had not been used much in modern fiction. The resulting scripts became known as Eye Of The Gorgon.

In 1963, Phyllida Law was considered for the role which evolved into one of Doctor Who's first companions, Barbara Wright

Ford's tale was scheduled as the second story of the first season of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It would be made by director Alice Troughton as part of the initial production block alongside its predecessor in the running order, Revenge Of The Slitheen. Indeed, much of Eye Of The Gorgon would be shot first because the production team wanted to help the cast settle into their roles -- especially since Daniel Anthony, playing Clyde Langer, had not appeared in Invasion Of The Bane, the New Year's Day special which had introduced the series. In the role of Bea Nelson-Stanley, Troughton cast veteran actress Phyllida Law, whose extensive career in television dated back to the late 1950s. Indeed, in 1963 Law had been under consideration to play Lola McGovern in Doctor Who. This role evolved into one of the first companions, Barbara Wright, and was ultimately won by Jacqueline Hill.

Recording for the first season of The Sarah Jane Adventures began on April 16th, 2007 at Cardiff Castle. This venue served as several areas of St Agnes' Abbey, including the library, the Abbess' room, the bell tower, the secret passage, the cellar, and various corridors; work there continued on the 17th. Scenes in the Great Hall, on the other hand, were filmed at Tretower Court and Castle in Tretower on the 18th and 19th, with the latter day also seeing cast and crew return to Upper Boat Studios for Luke and Clyde's exit from the secret passage. On April 20th, the Egerton Grey Hotel in Porthkerry posed as the Lavender Lawns rest home.

After the weekend, exterior scenes at the Abbey were shot on April 23rd in Margam at Margam Country Park, including the vicinity of Margam Castle. The next two days were spent back at the Egerton Grey Hotel for more Lavender Lawns material. The focus then turned to sequences on Bannerman Road, recorded on Clinton Road in Penarth; this work spanned April 26th and 27th, and May 1st through 3rd, with a small amount of filming on the 26th also taking place on nearby Sully Terrace for the scene of Clyde telling Sarah Jane that Luke has been kidnapped.

By this point, the production team had become concerned that Ford's scripts for Eye Of The Gorgon were too short, and so additional material was developed. Most of this could be staged at Upper Boat along with the other outstanding shots for the serial; filming there occurred from May 21st to 23rd on the sets for Maria's bedroom, Sarah Jane's attic and the secret passage egress. However, the sequence recorded at Sully Terrace had now been extended, and so it was replaced with a new version taped at Ffordd-Y-Gollen in Tonteg. Despite these efforts, Eye Of The Gorgon still ran short, and so Troughton returned to Clinton Road to direct more Bannerman Road scenes on June 25th and July 5th.

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #23, 24th December 2009, “Episodes 1.3/1.4: Eye Of The Gorgon” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 1st Oct 2007
Time 5.30pm
Duration 27'30"
Viewers (more) 365k
· CBBC 365k
· BBC1 1.1m
(8th Oct 2007)
Appreciation 83%
Episode 2
Date 8th Oct 2007
Time 5.30pm
Duration 27'49"
Viewers (more) 411k
· CBBC 411k
· BBC1 1.0m
(15th Oct 2007)
Appreciation 85%


Cast
Sarah Jane Smith
Elisabeth Sladen
Maria Jackson
Yasmin Paige
Luke
Tommy Knight
(more)
Alan Jackson
Joseph Millson
Chrissie Jackson
Juliet Cowan
Mr Smith
Alexander Armstrong
Clyde
Daniel Anthony
Bea Nelson-Stanley
Phyllida Law
Mrs Gribbins
Sarah Crowden
Mrs Randall
Doreen Mantle
Sister Helena
Beth Goddard
The Abbess
Audrey Ardington


Crew
Written by
Phil Ford
Directed by
Alice Troughton
Produced by
Matthew Bouch
(more)

Created by
Russell T Davies
1st Assistant Director
Gareth Williams
2nd Assistant Director
Anna Evans
3rd Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
Location Manager
Jonathan Allott
Production Co-ordinator
Phillipa Cole
Continuity
Nicki Coles
Script Editor
Lindsey Alford
Focus Puller
Steve Rees
Grip
Clive Baldwin
Boom Operator
Bradley Kendrick
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Stunt Co-ordinator
Abbi Collins
Chief Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Art Dept Production Manager
Jonathan Marquand Allison
Supervising Art Director
Matt North
Standby Art Director
Alexandra Merchant
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Costume Supervisor
Arabella Rhodes
Casting Associate
Andy Brierley
Assistant Editor
Tim Hodges
Post Production Supervisor
Nerys Davies
Post Production Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Colourist
Jon Everett
Sound Editor
Mike Feinberg
Dubbing Mixer
Mark Ferda
Title Music
Murray Gold
Music
Sam Watts
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Dyfed Thomas
Sound Recordist
Brian Milliken
Costume Designer
Stewart Meachem
Make Up Designer
Emma Bailey
Visual Effects
The Mill
Special Effects
Any Effects
Prosthetics
Millennium FX
Editor
William Webb
Production Designers
Tim Dickel
Edward Thomas
Director of Photography
Rory Taylor
Production Manager
Debbi Slater
Executive Producers for BBC Wales
Phil Collinson
Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner

Updated 10th July 2017