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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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The Sarah Jane Adventures: cast interviews

Clyde (Daniel Anthony), Rani (Anjli Mohindra), Luke (Tommy Knight) and Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen)

A few words from Matt Smith about appearing in the Sarah Jane Adventures...

How did your role in The Sarah-Jane Adventures come about?

"The opportunity arose towards the end of filming my first series as Doctor Who and I jumped at the chance. I knew Russell [T Davies] was going to write the episodes, I'm very fond of Lis [Sladen], she's just lovely, and it's a privilege to be working with two former companions. I felt such a bond working with the actresses and loved picking their brains about working with their Doctors in the past."

Who provides the main threat to the Doctor in these episodes?

"The Shansheeth are prominent in these episodes, they are Galactic coffin bearers of the Cosmos and very impressive! They are brilliant, the best. I definitely think we should get them into an episode of Doctor Who."

Tell us about working with Katy Manning, who was the doctor's companion Jo Grant in the Seventies?

"Working with Katy Manning has been wonderful. She's a lovely person, mad as a box of fish, but totally dynamite! And she is so forthcoming about her time on Doctor Who. She has made me aware of what a privilege it is [to be playing Doctor Who]. I'm constantly aware of Doctor Who's rich history. There's a line in my Sarah Jane episodes that refers to a ventilation shaft – when Lis was Tom Baker's assistant her character got stuck in a lift shaft so my line is: 'ventilation shaft... that takes me back – or maybe it's forward.' So I am aware of the heritage and aware too that I am just another stage in this very brilliant and wonderful show.

Daniel Anthony is back at Sarah Jane's side as wisecracking Clyde

Describe Clyde's character?

"Clyde would be my best mate ever. He's really funny and a laugh, so I'd definitely hang out with him. This series he's a lot older and more mature. You'll also see a little bit of romance and a lot more jokes."

What aliens will we be meeting in this series of The Sarah Jane Adventures?

"We've got a couple of new aliens. In the first story we've got the Nightmare Man who puts people into nightmares and freaks them out. We've also got the Shansheeth who are completely new and were created for us. They're like massive vultures."

Do you like doing the stunts?

"For one stunt I had to dive away from an explosion. Obviously, I watched it afterwards as I felt like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible – it looks wicked. It's quite daunting before you go for the take because you know you can only do it once, but it's good fun when it all comes together."

What was it like working with the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith?

"Matt Smith is an absolute legend, he's well cool. Last year we worked with David Tennant and he was wicked, so I think all the Doctors must have to have this quirkiness about them as they're both really chatty and lovely people. I guess it's because on Doctor Who they work with so many people they have to be really social and make people feel comfortable. Matt Smith loved his time on The Sarah Jane Adventures as far as I know and it was lovely to meet and work with him."

This series the gang do some time travel. Can you tell us about it?

"We do travel back in time looking for specific objects. I travel back to when the Nazis were here, Rani travels to Tudor times – she's in a corset with this massive dress which she loved - and Sarah Jane goes to a haunted house."

Where would you go if you could travel back in time?

"If I could go back in time I'd probably go back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. When I was little I loved dinosaurs – so I'd love to see Raptors and a Tyrannosaurus Rex!"

Anjli Mohindra returns as the character she's been playing for two years – smart and sassy Rani Chandra

Are you like your character?

"Rani's like a much younger version of me. Like me she'll go in, do something then question it later. I think a lot of Sarah Jane's gang are like that. They'll go off and do things and then work out what's going on later. Because you can't really deal with the situations they're faced with by thinking about them first, you've got to go with your gut and do what you think is best."

How does the relationship between Rani and Clyde develop in this series?

"It's always very playful with Rani and Clyde. I can't say whether or not they'll get together but they do get closer. There's all sorts of interesting things happening in this series, the sort of things that people go through when they're 17. Relationships build and you see what impact that has on the friendship group as well."

What's the best alien you've encountered whilst filming the show?

"I quite like Androvax because you never know where he is. He's within someone but that person is trying to pretend that Androvax isn't inside them. From an actor's perspective it's quite fun and a real challenge when he takes you over."

Are there ever times you actually get scared during filming?

"Yes, sometimes you do. Especially with the haunted house stuff we did in Series Three. We were actually filming in a haunted place and I don't believe in that stuff at all, I think there's always a scientific explanation for everything, but there were so many sightings that when we came to do scenes when we were running away from stuff you think, there might actually be something here. Acting does get fused with reality."

This series sees the gang go back in time, if you could go back in time to any point in history, when would it be?

"I think I'd quite like to go back to slave trade times and try and show people how wrong it is. I'd like to go back to a big event in history and see what life was like, like to try and understand why people followed Hitler or used slaves."

What's been your favourite episode of this series?

"I love episodes five and six, we've got a guest on the show that all the fans will be really excited about. And it's really farcical – it's a bit like an episode of Scooby Doo!"

Tommy Knight plays Sarah Jane's adopted son Luke

How has Luke changed since The Sarah Jane Adventures started?

"He's changed in that he's maturing, he's not so much the nerdy kid anymore – although he still is a massive geek. But he's getting cooler and wearing nicer clothes!"

What's in store for him this series?

"Luke's going off to university, he did really well in his A levels and got all A*s, but he's having fears about leaving and the Nightmare Man sees those fears and starts picking on him. But he goes off to University, has a whale of time and comes back every now and again to save the day!"

What's it like to film the special effects?

"I've got a wild imagination so we'll do a scene when I'm supposed to be in a void and I'll just be surrounded by green. And sometimes we're supposed to be scared of an alien, but it's just a tennis ball on a big long pole. They will wiggle it around and the director shouts, 'Be scared, be scared!' The first time I did it we were supposed to be being chased up the stairs by an alien and trying to be scared of the director with this pole and tennis ball so we laughed a lot. But after a while you realise you just need to focus and get on with it. I've also done all my own stunts so far – I'm like Jackie Chan!"

How do you cope with the attention that comes with The Sarah Jane Adventures?

"I pick my little brother up from primary school and you can kind of imagine what that's like as a lot of them watch the show. My brother gets kudos for it though – everyone loves him because his big brother's on the telly! And once I was walking around Bluewater shopping centre with my mates and this group of people stalked us from shop to shop and when we turned around they'd hide!"

What's your favourite thing about filming The Sarah Jane Adventures

"My favourite scenes are always when we have explosions or dunkings. In the very first scene we shot for this we had to blow up the Slitheen. We had these big machines in front of us filled up with goo, then there was a countdown and we got bombarded with this gunky, gooey stuff. We had to be straight faced but we had goo dripping down our faces – it was so funny!"

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