The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Man Who Never Was: Episode Two

First Broadcast October 18th 2011 @ 5.20pm (0.6m viewers)

The Sarah Jane Adventures. A Doctor Who spinoff aimed at the younger members of the audience. Initial ideas of a teenage Doctor were mercifully vetoed and Russell T Davies favoured the use of Elisabeth Sladen’s stalwart companion Sarah Jane Smith. Sladen had recently returned to Doctor Who in the episode ‘School Reunion’ (2006), which had received universal praise. Sarah Jane Smith is often ranked highly, if not the greatest ever, companion in Doctor Who.

Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) - The Sarah Jane Adventures (c) BBC
Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) – The Sarah Jane Adventures (c) BBC

Smith’s role as a journalist made it easy for the character to ask all the questions on behalf of the viewer. However, that questioning was not distracting or irritating, a criticism which could be levelled at some other two-dimensional characters. With Elisabeth Sladen’s natural charisma, charm and likeability, a new series with her as the star couldn’t fail. And it didn’t. The Sarah Jane Adventures was nominated for multiple awards over its five years. It would win two BAFTA Cymru awards and in 2011 the Royal Television Society declared it the best Children’s Drama.

At a time when there was much debate regarding the place of children’s television, The Sarah Jane Adventures proved that children shouldn’t be talked down to. Instead of dumbing-down storytelling for younger viewers, episodes were smart and intelligent. Creator Russell T Davies and other writers, including Phil Ford and Gareth Roberts, were clear that this programme was a drama just like the main show. That’s why it appealed not only to regular viewers of CBBC but also adult children. But many of them tuned in largely for Elisabeth Sladen.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

Whilst ‘The Man Who Never Was’ is not a particularly notable or remarkable story it encapsulates all that is good about ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. It demonstrates that alien life is not necessarily evil and determined to conquer our planet. The importance of the Bannerman Road family also shines through beautifully. Luke and Sky bond like siblings and Rani and Clyde grow closer together too. Rani also shows off the journalistic instincts, learned from Sarah of course. The positive impact which Sarah Jane Smith had on the lives of these youngsters, discovering a maternal nature which she didn’t know that she had, is testament to the strength of her character.

The Sarah Jane Adventures (c) BBC
The Sarah Jane Adventures (c) BBC

Whilst it was impossible to continue the series after Sladen’s sudden passing, the show could easily have continued. The example set by Sarah Jane Smith to her young companions set them in good stead to defend the Earth. Elisabeth Sladen had endured a disappointing experience filming ‘K9 & Company’ but thankfully ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ set things right and provides a perfect and fitting memorial to her…

Cast:

Sarah Jane Smith – Elisabeth Sladen
Clyde Langer – Daniel Anthony
Rani Chandra – Anjli Mohindra
Haresh Chandra – Ace Bhatti
Sky Sinead – Michael
Mr Smith – Alexander Armstrong
Luke Smith – Tommy Knight
Harrison – James Dreyfus
Serf – Mark Aiken
Adriana – Edyta Budnik
Lionel Carson – Peter Bowles
Plark – Dan Starkey
Newsreader – Jason Mohammad

Crew:

Producer – Brian Minchin
Director – Joss Agnew
Writer – Gareth Roberts

Also First Aired On This Day…

  • Planet of Evil: Part Four
  • Meglos: Part Four
  • The Trial of the Time Lord (Mindwarp): Part Seven
  • Ghost Light: Part Three
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Vault of Secrets: Episode One
  • Flatline

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