The Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes 27 & 28:
The Mad Woman In The Attic

Plot

Rani is feeling alienated from Sarah Jane, Luke and Clyde. When her old friend Sam asks her to come back home to Danemouth to investigate a mystery, she's quick to accept. Stories of disappearances at a derelict amusement park lead Rani to an alien girl named Eve, who crashlanded on Earth and was hidden in the park by its caretaker, Harry. But Eve and her damaged vessel possess devastating powers that transcend time and space, and when Sarah Jane and her companions come looking for Rani, their actions may put their own futures at risk...

Production

The original structure for the third season of The Sarah Jane Adventures would have seen it climax with a story in which Sarah Jane got married, guest-starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. The year's fifth serial, then, was designed to help pave the way for the finale -- both by including a prophetic element which would hint at the events to come, and by bringing back K·9 for a more substantial role in the programme. To date, the robot dog had only made brief appearances in 2007's Invasion Of The Bane and The Lost Boy, but agreement how now been reached to have him feature more prominently.

The rough sketch developed for the season's penultimate story was that it would involve an alien stranded on Earth and trapped at an amusement park; the alien would have a variety of psychic powers, some of them temporal in nature. K·9 would make a surprise appearance at the end of the story to help restore the alien's spaceship. Originally, it was hoped that this adventure would be developed by a writer new to The Sarah Jane Adventures, but in November 2008 it was reassigned to Joseph Lidster, who had delivered The Mark Of The Berserker for the show's second season.

Originally, the alien girl was captured by slimy businessman Mark Grantham from Warriors Of Kudlak

Lidster originally saw the story as an opportunity to reflect on the consequences of Sarah Jane's actions. As such, the narrative was tied to the events of the first-season serial Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?, with the meteor deflected during its climactic moments being the cause of an alien girl crashlanding on Earth. The alien had been captured by slimy businessman Mark Grantham (from another season one tale, Warriors Of Kudlak), who ran the Galaxy World park with his assistant, Ms Brown. Rani travelled to Galaxy World with two classmates: Steve Wallace and Jacob, who had appeared in a pair of second-season stories (The Day Of The Clown and The Mark Of The Berserker, respectively). Grantham wanted to take advantage of the girl's prophetic abilities, but it would transpire that Ms Brown was actually her mother, who was trying to nurture her destructive powers for the benefit of an alien army.

As work continued, Grantham, Ms Brown and Steve (who briefly acquired a girlfriend named Katie) were all dropped from the storyline, while the alien girl became known as Eve and the theme park was rebranded FutureWorld and located in the fictional town of Danemouth (a town in the 1942 Agatha Christie novel The Body In The Library). It would now be explained that Jacob had been relocated to a children's home in Danemouth following the events of The Mark Of The Berserker, and he would summon Rani for help investigating the disappearances. At the start of December, a new villain was added in the form of a man claiming to be the Master, the Time Lord arch-nemesis of the Doctor. His plan would apparently be to use Eve as the starting point for a time-sensitive army, while also punishing the Doctor by torturing Sarah Jane and her friends. However, it would ultimately be revealed that this was not the Master, but rather a man whom Eve had brainwashed into believing himself to be the Master in order to lure the Bannerman Road gang to FutureWorld.

By early 2009, the ersatz Master was removed and his role largely taken by the more sympathetic figure of the park caretaker, Harry. Lidster began to emphasise Rani Chandra, seeing his new story -- eventually called The Mad Woman In The Attic -- as a companion piece to the Clyde Langer-focussed The Mark Of The Berserker. Thematically, the scripts now emphasised the difficult progression to adulthood and independence. It also became known that David Tennant would have to record his appearance in The Sarah Jane Adventures much earlier than originally planned. That story, The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith, was therefore rescheduled as third in both the production and broadcast schedules. This, in turn, meant that The Mad Woman In The Attic would also have to brought forward, becoming the year's second adventure. Unfortunately, actor Perry Millward would no longer be available to reprise his role as Jacob. As such, Lidster introduced a new character, Sam, with the idea being that Danemouth was Rani's hometown before the Chandras moved to Bannerman Road. The writer was also asked to minimise Luke's participation in the story, since Tommy Knight would be heavily involved in his GCSE exams during production.

Cast as Harry was Elisabeth Sladen's husband, Brian Miller, who had previously appeared in Doctor Who

For its third season, budgetary constraints had imposed a new recording schedule on The Sarah Jane Adventures. The six serials would each form a filming block of their own, alternating between two directors. For stories two, four and six, the director would be Alice Troughton, who had made Revenge Of The Slitheen and Eye Of The Gorgon during the first season. In the interim, Troughton had made The Doctor's Daughter and Midnight for the 2008 season of Doctor Who. As Harry, Troughton cast Elisabeth Sladen's husband, Brian Miller, who had previously appeared in the 1983 Doctor Who story Snakedance in addition to providing Dalek voices on multiple occasions. Playing the 65-year-old version of Rani would be Souad Faress, whose extensive resume included episodes of Blake's 7, Coronation Street and No Angels, as well as films such as My Beautiful Laundrette and the long-running radio soap opera The Archers.

The first three days of production on The Mad Woman In The Attic were spent at Upper Boat Studios. May 5th involved work on the attic set -- redressed for its 2059 appearance -- which continued to the next day. Recording on the 6th then moved on to Rani's bedroom. May 7th dealt with material involving the Haunted Mine ride and Luke's future graduation, as well as shots of the Ship avatar. On May 8th, Harry's office was set up at an industrial unit which, like the studios, was located on the Treforest Industrial Estate in Pontypridd. After the weekend, May 11th saw the Kymin -- a community centre in Penarth -- pose as St Andrew's Children's Home. Cast and crew then returned to Upper Boat, for sequences in the modern-day attic on the 12th and aboard the spaceship on the 13th.

The major location for The Mad Woman In The Attic was the Barry Island Pleasure Park. The attraction, which had been founded at Barry in 1897 as the New Evesham Pleasure Park, was closed for the season and offered an appropriate beach area; filming there took place on May 14th, 18th and 20th. In between, on the 19th, the Haunted Mine storeroom was actually Jacob's Antique Centre in Cardiff. The establishing shot of Sarah Jane's (or, rather, Rani's) house in 2059 was captured at Clinton Road in Penarth on May 21st, followed by inserts of K·9 at Upper Boat on the 22nd.

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #28, 13th July 2011, “Episodes 3.3/3.4: The Mad Woman In The Attic” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 22nd Oct 2009
Time 4.35pm
Duration 27'44"
Viewers (more) 750k
· BBC1 / BBCHD 750k
Appreciation 86%
Episode 2
Date 23rd Oct 2009
Time 4.35pm
Duration 27'15"
Viewers (more) 840k
· BBC1 / BBCHD 840k
Appreciation 86%


Cast
Sarah Jane Smith
Elisabeth Sladen
Luke Smith
Tommy Knight
Mr Smith
Alexander Armstrong
(more)
Clyde Langer
Daniel Anthony
Rani Chandra
Anjli Mohindra
Old Rani
Souad Faress
Adam
Gregg Sulkin
Harry
Brian Miller
Sam
Toby Parkes
Eve
Eleanor Tomlinson
Ship
Kate Fleetwood
Voice of K·9
John Leeson
Shuresh
Jai Rajani


Crew
Written by
Joseph Lidster
Directed by
Alice Troughton
Produced by
Nikki Wilson
(more)

Created by
Russell T Davies
Co-Producer
Phil Ford
K·9 originally created by
Bob Baker &
Dave Martin
1st Assistant Director
Guy de Glanville
2nd Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
3rd Assistant Director
Will Cummins
Location Manager
Jonathan Allott
Production Co-Ordinator
Ceri Hughes
Continuity
Nicki Coles
Script Editor
Gary Russell
Camera Operator
Martin Stephens
Focus Pullers
Mani Blaxter Paliwala
Rob McGregor
Grip
John Robinson
Boom Operator
Kevin Staples
Gaffer
Dave Fowler
Set Decorator
Joelle Rumbelow
Standby Art Director
Ciaran Thompson
Standby Props
Dewi Thomas
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 Editors
Matthew Cox
Howard Eaves
Dubbing Mixer
Mark Ferda
Title Music
Murray Gold
Music
Sam Watts
Casting Directors
Andy Brierley
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Dyfed Thomas
Sound Recordist
Ray Parker
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
Mark Waters
Production Manager
Steffan Morris
Executive Producers for BBC Wales
Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Piers Wenger

Updated 4th August 2017