|Previous Story: Lost In Time||Next Story: Sky|
The Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes 47 &
Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith
Sarah Jane is appalled to realise that age seems to be catching up to her. Her memory is becoming unreliable, and she's even started to leave the front door open. Worst of all, she forgets vital equipment when she, Clyde and Rani go to confront a platoon of alien invaders, placing all their lives in danger. Only the intervention of the mysterious Ruby White averts disaster. Soon, Sarah Jane begins to consider retirement, and she comes to see Ruby as her natural successor. But there is more to Sarah Jane's deteriorating mental state -- and to Ruby White -- than meets the eye, and it will take the combined forces of Clyde, Rani, Luke, Mr Smith and K·9 to save their mentor.
During early planning for the fourth season of The Sarah Jane Adventures, one of the goals was to address what the production team felt was an emerging concern: age. The programme's young characters -- Luke, Clyde and Rani -- were starting to grow appreciably older than the target audience, and there was a concern that this could adversely affect the show's appeal. Furthermore, Luke would be playing a diminished role starting in 2010 due to Tommy Knight's decision to focus on his education, leaving The Sarah Jane Adventures short a lead character. As such, a plan was developed to introduce a new castmember in the 2010 finale. This was a “starchild”, originally called Astra, who would be left as a baby on Sarah Jane's doorstep in the last serial's closing minutes. The production team had then suggested that a Christmas special be filmed in which it would be revealed that Astra had been placed in Sarah Jane's care by the Doctor. Astra would rapidly age into a teenager -- albeit younger than Clyde and Rani -- and would become a new take on the wunderkind role which had previously been filled by Luke.
These plans advanced to the point that a script for the Christmas special, called “Miracle On Bannerman Road”, was commissioned from Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman. The pair had co-written the 2009 Comic Relief skit From Raxacoricofallapatorius With Love, and Roberts had more recently contributed The Empty Planet to the 2010 season. Inspired by the 1843 Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol, this would have seen Sarah Jane assessed by a spectral Guide for her suitability to care for the starchild. Segments would have included a teenaged Sarah Jane stopped a robbery on Christmas Eve, the modern-day Sarah Jane preventing a fire at the Chandras' Christmas party, and a glimpse of a disastrous alien invasion in the near future. It was suggested that the Guide might be played by Tom Baker, who had co-starred with Elisabeth Sladen as the Fourth Doctor.
However, everything changed when CBBC commissioned not just the fourth season of The Sarah Jane Adventures but also the fifth, with the plan to make a year and a half's worth of episodes in a single production schedule. This left no opportunity to record a Christmas special, and so the introduction of the new character was deferred to the opening story of the fifth season, Sky (as the “starchild” had been renamed).
Instead, Roberts and Hickman were tasked with developing a new storyline to close out the 2010 season, replacing an idea called “The Web Of Lies” which had been assigned to script editor Gary Russell. This notion was designed to confront Sarah Jane with one of her most famous nemeses from Doctor Who: the Giant Spiders of Metebelis 3, originally seen in Planet Of The Spiders, who would be revealed as having maintained a psychic connection with her ever since the events of that story. The mental control would induce Sarah Jane to steal a Metebelis crystal from Professor Rivers and the Pharos Institute (seen occasionally since 2007's The Lost Boy) which would be used to evolve the spiders of Earth into Giant Spiders. However, it would be discovered that Mr Smith's Xylok crystal could be used to counteract the Metebelis crystal and save Sarah Jane.
Around mid-November Russell concluded that his story was not working out, and so Roberts and Hickman were asked to provide their take on the same basic concept. This was called “Servant Of The Spiders” and again featured Professor Rivers (as well as Toby Silverman, her assistant in 2009's The Eternity Trap). This time, Mr Smith's Xylok crystal was transformed into an approximation of a Metebelis crystal in order to mutate the Earth's spiders, and in fact Sarah Jane had originally discovered the Xylok as a result of Giant Spiders' influence. However, a humanoid avatar of Mr Smith appeared to Gita Chandra and imbued her with the power to oppose the Giant Spiders. In the end, Sarah Jane's friends inspired her to reject the Giant Spiders' mental control and stop their plans.
As with Russell's efforts, however, the production team was dissatisfied with “Servant Of The Spiders”. Notably, Davies found himself increasingly concerned about the unlikelihood of the Bannerman Road gang successfully opposing the Giant Spiders, who had forced the regeneration of the Third Doctor. It was concluded that an approach unrelated to Planet Of The Spiders was needed. As such, Roberts and Hickman began working on a concept which again had its roots in the maturation of the characters. Given the departure of Luke for university, and the inevitability that Clyde and Rani would soon grow up and start forging their own paths in the world, the writers wanted to explore how this affected Sarah Jane. This drew on some elements of “Servant Of The Spiders”, in which the Great Spiders' mental control was manifesting in ways that made Sarah Jane seem increasingly dotty and absent-minded.
Originally, Roberts and Hickman were asked to include only a small role for Luke, so he remained in his dorm room at Oxford and instructed Mr Smith to send a hologram of the Dark Horde into the dreams of every sleeping person on the planet (including Haresh Chandra, who fantasised that he was defending Gita from the aliens). Early drafts also had Mr White fake a message from Sarah Jane which would be beamed into outer space, daring other races (such as the Slitheen, the Sontarans and the Sycorax) to invade the Earth. The writers also decided to tone down the character of Ruby White, who was initially much more comically over-the-top; they came to feel that a sombre tone best suited the story they were telling.
Roberts and Hickman's story was eventually called Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith, in keeping with Roberts' emotionally-charged trilogy of stories featuring the villainous Trickster: 2007's Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?, 2008's The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith, and 2009's The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith. It was directed by Joss Agnew as part of the year's third production block, alongside Lost In Time. Work on Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith began with three days on the attic set at Upper Boat Studios, split across a weekend: May 27th, 28th and 31st, 2010. June 2nd was spent at Clinton Road in Penarth for scenes on Bannerman Road, while on the 3rd, the meteor's impact site was actually Ty Candy Farm at Bridgend. Agnew then concentrated on Lost In Time, except for some inserts taped at Caerphilly Castle on June 10th and 11th.
Agnew returned to Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith on June 14th, when scenes in Ruby's basement were filmed at Headlands School in Penarth. These were completed the following day, after which cast and crew returned to Clinton Road for more Bannerman Road material. Ruby's home on Old Forest Road really was around the corner from Sarah Jane's house: it was actually a residence on Victoria Road, which intersected with Clinton Road. Sequences there were recorded on June 16th, in addition to more footage on Bannerman Road. The 17th began with the confrontation involving the Dark Horde at a former tinplate works in Rhydfelin, after which more filming at Upper Boat required the sets for Luke's dorm room and Ruby's prison ship. The serial was then completed on June 18th, when scenes in the Chandra residence were taped at Upper Boat.
In editing, Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith lost a scene on Bannerman Road in which Ruby, Clyde and Rani were attempting the trap Travast Polong, the mischievous alien previously glimpsed in The Mark Of The Berserker and The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith. Also dropped from the first episode was material in Ruby's cellar after Sarah Jane requested that Mr Smith perform a med-scan, which would have confirmed the Qetesh's sinister nature. Executive producer Russell T Davies felt that this prematurely gave away the cliffhanger reveal. For the voice of Mr White, Roberts and Hickman had suggested Ben Miller, one half of the popular comedy duo Armstrong and Miller alongside Alexander Armstrong -- the voice of Mr Smith. In the end, this role went to Eddie Marsan, whose many credits included the feature films V For Vendetta, Mission: Impossible III, and Inspector Lestrade in both of the Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey, Jr.
Part two of Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith brought the fourth season of The Sarah Jane Adventures to a close on November 16th. With the first half of the 2011 season already complete, the production team had now turned its attention to the second half, as well as the expected sixth season to air in 2012. However, as the filming dates neared in the spring of 2011, Elisabeth Sladen revealed that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February. The actress had previously suffered from the same illness more than a decade earlier, but this time the prognosis was grim. It was agreed that production of the remaining six episodes of season five would be postponed until 2012, in the hope that Sladen's health would improve in the interim. Sadly, it was not to be: Elisabeth Sladen died on April 19th. Four days later, on April 23rd, the CBBC memorialised the late actress with the broadcast of My Sarah Jane: A Tribute To Elisabeth Sladen following the Doctor Who season premiere, The Impossible Astronaut.
It was quickly agreed that, with Sladen's loss, no further episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures would be produced. As a result, Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith proved to be the final story to feature K·9. Nonetheless, voice artiste John Leeson would maintain his connection with the iconic character, providing the robot dog's dialogue for two programmes created as part of Doctor Who's fiftieth-anniversary celebrations in 2013: the spoof The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot and a themed edition of the game show Pointless Celebrities. He also voiced K·9 for episodes of the BBC astronomy programme Stargazing Live: Back To Earth, and continued to appear in a variety of Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish Productions.
|Updated 24th August 2017|
|Main Page||Spin-Offs||Sarah Jane 4|
|Previous Story: Lost In Time||Next Story: Sky|