The Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes 16 & 17:
Secrets Of The Stars

Plot

One night, a blazing light from the heavens strikes a small-time shyster named Martin Trueman. Within days, Trueman has risen to fame for his uncanny astrological ability, seeing into the past and predicting the future. Sarah Jane suspects that there is a sinister force working through Trueman. But when Mr Smith is incapable of analysing the astrologer's abilities, Luke realises that Trueman must be possessed by a power which comes from beyond the universe itself.

Production

Gareth Roberts had been a key contributor to the first season of The Sarah Jane Adventures, writing Revenge Of The Slitheen and Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?, and continued to be heavily involved in the programme as it moved into its second year. He and lead writer Phil Ford collaborated on the development of new main character Rani's parents -- originally Sundra and Suresh Rakhit, and later Gita and Haresh Chandra. As such, Roberts' first story for the 2008 season was originally intended to put a strong focus on the Chandra family.

Roberts began working on a serial about astrology which would function as a sequel to one of Sarah Jane's adventures with the Doctor: 1976's The Masque Of Mandragora. Written by Louis Marks, it introduced an alien energy force called the Mandragora Helix which possessed an astrologer and tried to pervert the dawning of the Renaissance. Roberts' idea was that, with half a millennium having passed, the Mandragora Helix would have now come back into alignment with the Earth, but its agent this time would be a down-on-his-luck swindler posing as a fortune teller.

Originally Luke was possessed by the Mandragora Helix from The Masque Of Mandragora

Roberts was working on his scripts in late 2007. At this point, it was Luke who was possessed by the “Great Star” (ie, the Mandragora Helix) rather than Clyde, who was resistant due to his lack of belief in astrology. Martin Trueman's assistant was originally called Adriana rather than Cheryl. In the climax to the first episode, Trueman was confronted on television by a skeptic named Professor Steven Gordon, who ultimately became possessed. Sarah Jane, too, fell under the influence of the Helix for a time, before she was able to reject it and convince Trueman to do likewise. This defeated the Helix's plans, and the end of the conjunction meant that it would have to wait another five hundred years to try again. Trueman survived the experience, and was taken into custody by UNIT.

During the development of what became Secrets Of The Stars, however, the production team became unhappy with the links to The Masque Of Mandragora, as the threat had to be altered and watered down too much from the Doctor Who serial to fit the narrative. Instead, it was agreed that the entity controlling Trueman should be an original creation: the Ancient Lights.

Because production of the first story of the season, The Last Sontaran, had to be deferred to June to accommodate the availability of departing star Yasmin Paige, Secrets Of The Stars was brought forward to be made alongside the second story, The Day Of The Clown, as part of the year's initial recording block. Director Michael Kerrigan focussed on The Day Of The Clown at the outset, with early work on Secrets Of The Stars encompassing inserts and material in Sarah Jane's attic, filmed at Upper Boat on April 14th and 16th, and an establishing shot of Bannerman Road, captured at Clinton Road in Penarth on the 18th. A more substantial amount of material was completed at Clinton Road on the 25th.

This was Michael Kerrigan's final work on a Doctor Who-related project

On April 28th, work began at Cardiff's New Theatre, posing as the East Acton New Theatre, before shifting to nearby Crockherbtown Lane for the alleyway sequences. May 1st saw cast and crew return to Clinton Road. From May 6th to 8th, the venue for Trueman's stage act and broadcast was actually the Parc & Dare Theatre in Treorchy. Then it was back to the New Theatre on May 12th, for scenes in Trueman's dressing room and outside the theatre. On the 13th and 14th, the Fostering and Adoption Resource Centre in Penarth provided space suitable for Trueman's apartment. A final day at the Parc & Dare Theatre followed on May 15th.

From that point, all of the outstanding sequences were confined to the studio. May 16th saw two teams at work -- one at the BBC News studio in Cardiff for the various newsreaders, and the other at Upper Boat on the sets for Sarah Jane's attic and the Chandra residence. Further material on the same sets at Upper Boat was then filmed on the 19th and 20th. Production on the story then concluded with a variety of inserts, taped at Upper Boat on June 27th. This was Kerrigan's final work on a Doctor Who-related project, and he retired from television soon afterward. Kerrigan died on August 7th, 2014.

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #23, 24th December 2009, “Episodes 2.5/2.6: Secrets Of The Stars” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 20th Oct 2008
Time 5.17pm
Duration 28'17"
Viewers (more) 518k
· CBBC 518k
· BBC1 860k
(27th Oct 2008)
Appreciation 83%
Episode 2
Date 27th Oct 2008
Time 5.17pm
Duration 28'02"
Viewers (more) 505k
· CBBC 505k
· BBC1 700k
(3rd Nov 2008)
Appreciation 86%


Cast
Sarah Jane Smith
Elisabeth Sladen
Luke Smith
Tommy Knight
Voice of Mr Smith
Alexander Armstrong
(more)
Clyde Langer
Daniel Anthony
Rani Chandra
Anjli Mohindra
Haresh Chandra
Ace Bhatti
Gita Chandra
Mina Anwar
Martin Trueman
Russ Abbott
Cheryl Farley
Carryl Thomas
Stuart Farley
Ed Hughes
Lisa Trotter
Nicky Ladanowski
Linda
Joanna Bending
George
Nicholas Osmond
British Newsreader
Sagar Arya
French Newsreader
Anthony Debaeck
Trinity Wells
Lachele Carl


Crew
Written by
Gareth Roberts
Directed by
Michael Kerrigan
Produced by
Nikki Smith
(more)

Created by
Russell T Davies
Co-producer
Phil Ford
1st Assistant Director
Steffan Morris
2nd Assistant Director
Anna Evans
3rd Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
Location Manager
Jonathan Allott
Production Co-ordinator
Phillipa Cole
Continuity
Frances Mable
Script Editor
Gary Russell
Focus Puller
Steve Rees
Grip
Clive Baldwin
Boom Operator
Jeff Welch
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Stunt Co-ordinator
Abbi Collins
Supervising Art Director
James North
Standby Art Director
Ellen Woods
Standby Props
Nick Murray
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Costume Supervisor
Arabella Rhodes
Assistant Editor
Lee Bhogal
Post Production Supervisor
Nerys Davies
Post Production Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Colourist
Jon Everett
Sound Editing
Bang Post Production
Dubbing Mixer
Mark Ferda
Title Music
Murray Gold
Music
Sam Watts
Casting Directors
Andy Pryor CDG
Andy Brierley
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Dyfed Thomas
Sound Recordist
Jeff Matthews
Costume Designer
Stewart Meachem
Make Up Designer
Emma Bailey
Visual Effects
Craig Higgins
Special Effects
Any Effects
Prosthetics
Millennium FX
Editor
Mike Hopkins
Production Designer
Arwel Wyn Jones
Director of Photography
Rory Taylor
Associate Producer
Debbi Slater
Series Producer
Matthew Bouch
Executive Producers for BBC Wales
Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner

Updated 20th July 2017