The Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes 31 & 32:
The Eternity Trap


Professor Rivers of the Pharos Institute invites Sarah Jane to join her in her investigation of Ashen Hill Manor. The estate has been plagued by rumours of hauntings and mysterious disappearances for centuries, dating back to 1665 when it was home to the purported alchemist, Erasmus Darkening. Sarah Jane is skeptical at first... until Professor Rivers vanishes as well. With spirits roaming the secret passages that riddle the house, and something malevolent stalking the night outdoors, Sarah Jane must find out what really happened in Ashen Hill Manor three hundred and fifty years ago.


Ever since his invitation to contribute to the first season of The Sarah Jane Adventures, lead writer Phil Ford had been keen to do a haunted house story. In addition to taking the programme in an interesting new direction, he also felt that it could be a budget-conscious exercise, predominantly using a single setting with few computer-generated effects. It was finally decided that this idea should form the basis of Ford's second script for the show's third season, following the premiere serial Prisoner Of The Judoon. Originally, it was intended that this would be the year's second episode; however, when the story originally intended to be the finale -- The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith -- had to shifted to an earlier position due to the availability of Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant, Ford's haunted house script was bumped to the fourth spot. It eventually gained the title The Eternity Trap.

Several regular characters would be missing from Ford's serial. Originally, the writer had been asked to limit the involvement of Luke Smith in the action, to facilitate actor Tommy Knight's GCSE exam study. With the delay in production, however, The Eternity Trap would now be filmed during the exams themselves; as such, Luke had to be completely removed from the story. Also intentionally omitted was Mr Smith, given that no filming was planned for Upper Boat Studios, and no material could be set on Bannerman Road due to the unavailability of the usual Clinton Road location in Penarth during the filming dates for the serial. Meanwhile, K·9 was absent because, under the season's original narrative sequence, his return would not occur until after the events of The Eternity Trap. For a time, it was even thought that Ford's serial would have to make only sparse use of Sarah Jane in order to provide Elisabeth Sladen with a mid-season break, but this requirement was subsequently shifted to Mona Lisa's Revenge, the next story to go before the cameras. With so many characters unavailable to him, Ford elected to bring back Professor Rivers, played by Floella Benjamin, the Pharos Institute scientist whom he had created for the first season's The Lost Boy and used again in the following year's The Day Of The Clown. Forgetting that the script for The Lost Boy had given the character the first name Jane (a fact not used on-screen), Ford now rechristened her Celeste.

Changes had to be made to suit Dyffryn Gardens, with action originally set in a boathouse relocated to a pavilion

Ford had initially hoped to be able to write his script for a specific filming location, but unfortunately this did not prove possible. Consequently, changes had to be made once the main location was finally identified as Dyffryn Gardens. Located in St Nicholas, the estate was much newer than the Civil War-era Ashen Hill Manor of the script. In fact, it had been constructed in the late nineteenth century by shipping and coal magnate John Cory, and was now operated by the National Trust and chiefly known for its botanical gardens. Because the property was landlocked, Ford relocated action originally set in a boathouse to a pavilion. He also dropped the notion of a gate-like structure at the foot of the main staircase which would have played a role in the defeat of Erasmus Darkening, instead taking advantage of the presence of the large, ornate crest of the Cory family.

The Eternity Trap was directed by Alice Troughton, who had just finished work on The Mad Woman In The Attic. She began the production with five days at Dyffryn Gardens, on June 3rd, 4th, and 8th through 10th, 2009. Anjli Mohindra, playing Rani Chandra, found herself appropriately unsettled by the story's spooky atmosphere -- especially since the grounds of Dyffryn Gardens were allegedly haunted by seventeenth-century explorer Sir Thomas Button, who had lived in an earlier manor house at the same location. The only other venue used by Troughton's team was Caerphilly Castle in Caerphilly, for material in Darkening's secret laboratory and the passages which led to it. Recording there took place on June 11th and 12th. Cast and crew then returned to Dyffryn Gardens from June 15th to 18th to complete The Eternity Trap.

  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #28, 13th July 2011, “Episodes 3.7/3.8: The Eternity Trap” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 5th Nov 2009
Time 4.35pm
Duration 28'07"
Viewers (more) 1.1m
· BBC1 / BBCHD 1.1m
Appreciation 86%
Episode 2
Date 6th Nov 2009
Time 4.35pm
Duration 28'15"
Viewers (more) 930k
· BBC1 / BBCHD 930k
Appreciation 86%

Sarah Jane Smith
Elisabeth Sladen
Clyde Langer
Daniel Anthony
Rani Chandra
Anjli Mohindra
Professor Rivers
Floella Benjamin
Erasmus Darkening
Donald Sumpter
Lord Marchwood
Callum Blue
Toby Silverman
Adam Gillen
Elizabeth Marchwood
Amelia Clarkson
Joseph Marchwood
Rhys Gear
Mr Scriven
Tony Boncza

Written by
Phil Ford
Directed by
Alice Troughton
Produced by
Nikki Wilson

Created by
Russell T Davies
Phil Ford
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
Nicki Coles
Script Editor
Gary Russell
Camera Operator
Martin Stephens
Focus Pullers
Mani Blaxter Paliwala
Rob McGregor
John Robinson
Boom Operator
Kevin Staples
Dave Fowler
Stunt Co-ordinator
Crispin Layfield
Set Decorator
Joelle Rumbelow
Standby Art Director
Ciaran Thompson
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
BBC Wales Graphics
Costume Supervisor
Barbara Harrington
Assistant Editor
Lee Bhogal
Post Production Supervisor
Nerys Davies
Post Production Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Jon Everett
Sound Editors
Matthew Cox
Howard Eaves
Dubbing Mixer
Mark Ferda
Title Music
Murray Gold
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
Will Oswald
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 8th August 2017