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The Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes 45 &
Lost In Time
Sarah Jane is summoned by the mysterious Shopkeeper, who warns her that three fragments of chronosteen, a metal forged in the time vortex, have been lost in the Earth's past. Chronosteen has the power to change history, and so the Shopkeeper sends Sarah Jane, Clyde and Rani back in time, each with a mission to recover one of the pieces. Clyde finds himself fighting Nazis along the English coast. Rani becomes caught up in the intrigue of the court of Lady Jane Grey. And Sarah Jane must unearth the secret of a haunted house, and its tragic connection to the future...
Rupert Laight had written The Gift for the third season of The Sarah Jane Adventures, and submitted additional ideas for the fourth season in June 2009. Of these, he was asked to develop “The Children Of Blackmere Rise”, a story inspired by the 1975 thriller The Stepford Wives, in which Sarah Jane and her friends investigated a council estate where all the children seemed abnormally happy. Over multiple drafts, this evolved into a plot about an alien called Bryce who had been stranded on Earth for centuries, and who was mind-controlling the children in order to calculate the forgotten access code for his ship, buried beneath the council estate. Sarah Jane offered Mr Smith's help in exchange for freeing the children, but this turned out to be a ruse to free Bryce's powerful brother from imprisonment within the ship. In the end, an act of self-sacrifice by Sarah Jane convinced Bryce to turn against his brother.
By October, however, it was felt that “The Children Of Blackmere Rise” was not working out, and Laight met with the production team to discuss a replacement storyline. To this point, The Sarah Jane Adventures had largely eschewed the time travel element which was characteristic of Doctor Who, the only exceptions being two journeys along the lead character's personal timeline in 2007's Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane? and 2008's The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith. Some consideration had previously been given to a trip back to the Bannerman Road of the 1970s in an homage to the 1985 movie Back To The Future, but it was now decided that Laight should write a full-throated time travel adventure.
As his inspiration, Laight looked to the 1978-79 season of Doctor Who, in which each of the six serials had formed part of the Doctor's year-long search for the segments which made up the powerful Key to Time. Laight likewise decided that Sarah Jane, Clyde and Rani should each travel to a different point in time on a quest, with each protagonist essentially embarking on a mini-adventure of their own. This would be initiated by a figure called Candleman, and the goal was originally to reassemble the scattered components of his time machine. Candleman was inspired by the shopkeeper in the 1971-72 animated series Mr Benn, who would send the titular hero back in time through a magic door in the changing room of his costume shop. However, as the scripts evolved, executive producer Russell T Davies encouraged Laight to keep this character as enigmatic as possible; thus he simply became the Shopkeeper, and the object of the quest was to recover three pieces of chronosteen (originally called chronotite). Another suggestion of Davies' was to give the Shopkeeper a parrot to whom he could speak, since the character would often be alone watching the events taking place in the past. Laight christened the bird Captain after the parrot owned by Lady Lavender Southwick in the sitcom You Rang, M'Lord?, which had first aired in 1988.
Each of the three mini-adventures underwent some notable changes during the story's development. Sarah Jane's strand was always set during Victorian times -- a favourite of Laight's -- but originally dealt with a man who was using the power of an ancient statue to become wealthy by predicting the future. When this notion was replaced by the haunted house, a character called Miss Fuller was retained and became Emily Morris. For the final version, Laight decided to have the ghosts be emanations from the future in order to differentiate his story from 2009's The Eternity Trap.
Laight always intended Clyde to wind up in an English coastal village during World War II, but the production team was concerned about this setting and asked him to develop an alternative. This would have placed Clyde at Park Vale Comprehensive in 1973, where he became friends with a group of students who were trying to start a glam rock band. Together they fought an alien who was attempting to recover two pieces of a necklace which gave the wearer control over time. The alien was finally driven away when Clyde's knowledge of the future convinced it that Earth was more technologically sophisticated than it had believed. Ultimately, however, Davies preferred the World War II version. Laight drew upon the 1942 film Went The Day Well?, and originally included Nazis masquerading as British soldiers. Laight also had the vicar, Reverend Bryce, captured alongside Clyde and George, but the character was deemed superfluous and dropped. Dialogue eventually cut from the finished serial would have explained that Miss Wyckham had only recently come to Little Malding after the former schoolteacher, Mrs Thwaite, went missing.
For Rani's mini-adventure, Laight initially wanted to place her in the court of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII who was beheaded in 1536 to facilitate the king's marriage to Jane Seymour, after Anne had failed to produce a male heir. Set during the queen's final days of freedom, this plotline would have included the unveiling of a spy and a scheme to steal a valuable necklace. It was Davies who instead suggested that Rani meet the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen who reigned in July 1553. Although he was unfamiliar with the story, Laight ultimately felt that the change was to the betterment of his scripts, since Jane's proximity to Rani's age (as compared to Anne Boleyn, who was about thirty years old when she died) helped him root the drama in the relationship between the two characters.
Laight's story, ultimately called Lost In Time, was made part of the year's third recording block alongside the fourth-season finale, Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith. It was directed by Joss Agnew, who had recently completed the first two serials for the 2010 season, The Nightmare Man and The Vault Of Secrets. Agnew began by concentrating on the 1889 mini-adventure with Sarah Jane. This was filmed at Hensol Castle in Hensol from May 24th to 26th, 2010. Material in Sarah Jane's attic was then taped at Upper Boat Studios on the 27th, followed by scenes on the Shopkeeper's premises at Jacob's Market in Cardiff on June 1st and 2nd.
The next plot strand to be recorded was the 1941 sequence involving Clyde. The main focus was St Mary's Church in Bridgend, which posed as St Michael's on June 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th. Part of the latter day was also spent at Newton Beach in Newton, where the Nazis came ashore. Finally, Rani's escapades in 1553 were filmed at Caerphilly Castle in Caerphilly from June 9th to 11th. The only remaining scene was Rani in her bedroom, which was completed at Upper Boat on the 18th.
Lost In Time was Rupert Laight's final television credit, although he did contribute The Devil And Miss Carew to Torchwood: The Lost Files, a 2011 season of radio dramas based upon the Doctor Who spin-off. Laight passed away on March 23rd, 2018.
|Updated 8th August 2018|
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