The Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes 41 & 42:
Death Of The Doctor

Plot

UNIT arrives at Sarah Jane's door with terrible news: the Doctor is dead, his body brought to Earth by alien undertakers called the Shansheeth. Sarah Jane refuses to believe that her friend is gone for good, and only reluctantly agrees to travel to a UNIT base for the Doctor's hastily-assembled funeral. And she isn't the only skeptic: also in attendance is Jo Jones, Sarah Jane's predecessor aboard the TARDIS, who is equally convinced that the Doctor is still alive. But it falls to Clyde and Rani -- and Jo's grandson Santiago -- to discover that they have fallen into a trap laid by the Shansheeth.

Production

David Tennant's appearance as the Tenth Doctor in The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith had provided a tremendous ratings boost to the third season of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Discussion soon ensued about the possibility of the programme's fourth season including an encounter between the Bannerman Road gang and the Eleventh Doctor as played by Matt Smith, who was taking over from Tennant on New Year's Day 2010. This notion was assigned to lead writer Phil Ford as one of two stories he was planning to write for the 2010 season (the other being The Vault Of Secrets), and replaced an idea about Mr Smith creating a humanoid avatar of himself to fight a crystalline entity. It was suggested that the new serial could involve the Doctor's purported funeral, since this would keep the Time Lord off screen until the part one cliffhanger, in keeping with the structure of The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith.

Executive producer Russell T Davies was concerned about the possibility of Smith having restricted availability, and in December 2009 he suggested that the apparent demise of the Doctor would draw the attention of one or more of his past companions, in addition to Sarah Jane herself. In particular Davies felt that Jo Grant, played by Katy Manning, was an appropriate character to bring back. Jo was Sarah Jane's predecessor on Doctor Who, and Manning's tenure on the show -- three season from 1971 to 1973 -- was comparable to Elisabeth Sladen's. As such, Jo offered a similar nostalgic appeal and was a character known to Sarah Jane. In her final adventure, The Green Death, Jo had married ecologist Clifford Jones, with whom she would later travel down the Amazon in search of a rare fungus. Subsequent Doctor Who tie-in media had speculated on a grim fate for Jo's marriage and mission, but Davies was determined that The Sarah Jane Adventures would portray Jo's later life in a much more positive light.

Katy Manning had begun reprising the role of Jo Grant in audio dramas in 2008

Since leaving Doctor Who Manning had continued to make television appearances, including dramatic roles in Armchair Theatre and Target in addition to presenting a daytime crafts programme called Serendipity. However, her focus increasingly turned to the theatre, and this continued when she moved to Australia in the late 1970s. Manning was drawn back into the world of Doctor Who when she agreed to provide the voice of the eccentric Time Lady Iris Wildthyme in various audio dramas for Big Finish Productions. She had also begun reprising the role of Jo Grant starting with The Doll Of Death, a 2008 release in Big Finish's The Companion Chronicles range. The invitation to appear in The Sarah Jane Adventures coincided with Manning's decision to spend more time in the United Kingdom, and she readily accepted the offer.

Meanwhile, changes were afoot for The Sarah Jane Adventures with the BBC's decision to pair the production of its fourth season with the first half of season five. It was agreed to shift Ford's focus to the latter, meaning that a new writer would have to be found for the Eleventh Doctor/Jo story. Executive producer Nikki Wilson contacted Davies and suggested that he should take on this assignment himself. Davies had not provided a script for The Sarah Jane Adventures since collaborating with Gareth Roberts for the introductory special, Invasion Of The Bane, so this would give him the chance to write for Clyde and Rani, who were later additions to the programme. It would also be Davies' opportunity to tackle the Eleventh Doctor, since he had decided not to write for Doctor Who now that his time as showrunner was over. Davies turned to Steven Moffat, his successor on Doctor Who, for advice on writing for Matt Smith. Moffat was delighted with the possibility of Smith appearing in The Sarah Jane Adventures, and furthermore encouraged Davies to include a cameo appearance for the Doctor's new companion, Amy Pond, as played by Karen Gillan. Unfortunately, the production budget for The Sarah Jane Adventures would not permit this.

Davies' serial was eventually known as Death Of The Doctor (a title he had considered for the second episode of Tennant's final story, The End Of Time). Notably, it featured the first visit to an alien planet seen in The Sarah Jane Adventures; previously, the programme had gotten no farther afield than an orbiting spaceship. Although it was initially intended to be the fifth story of the 2010 season in both the recording and broadcast schedules, its position was fixed as the third due to Smith's availability. Consequently, it was paired with The Empty Planet -- the original third serial which had now been bumped to fourth -- to form the second recording block of the year. The director would be Ashley Way, who was new to The Sarah Jane Adventures but who had recently completed The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood for Smith's first Doctor Who season; he would therefore be familiar with the Eleventh Doctor.

Matt Smith joined the cast of The Sarah Jane Adventures on May 3rd, 2010

The first filming for Death Of The Doctor was Tommy Knight's brief return as Luke Smith, shot on the set for his Oxford dorm room at Upper Boat Studios on April 26th, 2010. On the 27th, Bannerman Road scenes were recorded on Clinton Road in Penarth; this marked Manning's first work on Doctor Who in thirty-seven years -- almost to the day! April 28th began at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, for sequences in the bedrooms and corridors of the UNIT base. This was followed by the exterior view of the base, captured at the Cemex quarry in Taffs Well. The 29th and 30th were then spent back at Upper Boat, and concentrated on material in the funeral chamber.

Matt Smith joined the cast of The Sarah Jane Adventures at Upper Boat on May 3rd, with the focus being scenes outside the funeral chamber doors. This was Smith's first filming as the Doctor since completing his initial season of Doctor Who on March 20th; in the interim, he had spent time in the United States investigating career opportunities in Hollywood. Smith had to sport a plain shirt for Death Of The Doctor due to the limitations of the cameras used for The Sarah Jane Adventures. On the 4th, Trefil Quarry in Tredegar posed as the Wasteland of the Crimson Heart. May 5th and 6th brought cast and crew back to the Millennium Stadium for more bedroom and corridor scenes, as well as those at the rocket gantry. Smith's final day on Death Of The Doctor was a busy May 7th at Upper Boat, with sets in use including the ventilation shafts, the ruined funeral chamber, the TARDIS console room and Sarah Jane's attic. Way then concentrated on The Empty Planet, although two more days at Upper Boat were scheduled to conclude principal photography on Death Of The Doctor. May 17th dealt with sequences in the ventilation shafts, the Groske lair and the attic, and the 21st with those in the attic and the funeral chamber. Inserts on the funeral chamber set were later taped at Upper Boat on June 17th.

Death Of The Doctor was an enormous ratings success for CBBC, with the broadcast of episode two on October 26th being watched by 960,000 viewers -- a new record for the channel. Unusually, though, the largest audience for the serial came in the form of a Christmas Morning omnibus repeat on BBC1, when an audience of more than a million and a half tuned in as they counted down to that year's Doctor Who special, A Christmas Carol.

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #28, 13th July 2011, “Episodes 4.5/4.6: Death Of The Doctor” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #32, Autumn 2012, “Episodes 5.5/5.6: Meet Mr Smith” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 25th Oct 2010
Time 5.17pm
Duration 26'21"
Viewers (more) 920k
· CBBC 920k
· BBC1 480k
(27th Oct 2010)
· BBCHD unknown
(7th Nov 2010)
Episode 2
Date 26th Oct 2010
Time 5.17pm
Duration 26'10"
Viewers (more) 960k
· CBBC 960k
· BBC1 470k
(28th Oct 2010)
· BBCHD unknown
(5th Dec 2010)


Cast
Sarah Jane Smith
Elisabeth Sladen
Luke Smith
Tommy Knight
Mr Smith
Alexander Armstrong
(more)
Clyde Langer
Daniel Anthony
Rani Chandra
Anjli Mohindra
Haresh Chandra
Ace Bhatti
The Doctor
Matt Smith
Jo Jones
Katy Manning
Santiago Jones
Finn Jones
Colonel Karim
Laila Rouass
Groske
Jimmy Vee
Shansheeth
Paul Kasey
Ruari Mears
Ben Ashley
Voice of Shansheeth Blue
David Bradley
Voice of The Groske
Phillip Hurd-Wood
Additional Shansheeth Voices
Jon Glover


Crew
Written by
Russell T Davies
Directed by
Ashley Way
Produced by
Brian Minchin
(more)

Created by
Russell T Davies
Co-Producer
Phil Ford
1st Assistant Director
Richard Harris
2nd Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
3rd Assistant Director
Delmi Thomas
Production Co-Ordinator
Hannah Simpson
Script Supervisor
Nicki Coles
Script Editor
Gary Russell
Location Manager
Gareth Skelding
Camera Operator
Martin Stephens
Focus Pullers
Steve Rees
Mani Blaxter Paliwala
Grip
John Robinson
Boom Operator
Jeff Welch
Gaffer
Dave Fowler
Standby Art Director
Jackson Pope
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Costume Supervisor
Barbara Harrington
Assistant Editor
Carmen Sanchez Roberts
Post Production Supervisor
Nerys Davies
Post Production Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Colourist
Jon Everett
Online Editor
Matt Mullins
Sound Editors
Matthew Cox
Howard Eaves
Dubbing Mixer
Mark Ferda
Title Music
Murray Gold
Music
Sam Watts
Dan Watts
Casting Director
Andy Brierley
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Mark Strainge
Sound Recordist
Bryn Thomas
Costume Designer
Stewart Meachem
Make Up Designer
Emma Bailey
Visual Effects
BBC Wales VFX
Special Effects
Real SFX
Prosthetics
Millennium FX
Editor
Ceres Doyle
Production Designer
Keith Dunne
Director of Photography
Mark Waters
Production Manager
Steffan Morris
Executive Producers for BBC Wales
Russell T Davies
Nikki Wilson

Updated 29th August 2017