5½ Reasons Why EVERYBODY should watch The Sarah Jane Adventures
The Doctor Who Team
CBBC recently celebrated a decade of The Sarah Jane Adventures by repeating three stories that you can now catch on BBC iPlayer. And we marked the tenth anniversary by looking back on this bold and brilliant Doctor Who spin-off…
Jon Pertwee, who played the third Doctor Who, famously said that there was nothing scarier than coming home and finding a ‘Yeti on your loo’. In other words, the scariest situations are ones that mirror our everyday lives with just a tiny twist of terror. It’s a story-telling basic that The Sarah Jane Adventures took and ran with for five seasons that began - gulp - ten years ago.
The show’s essential premise was simple. Take one former companion of the Doctor. Add some young sidekicks; season with familiar foes like Sontarans and the Slitheen and for good measure, throw in the Doctor himself for a couple of stories. Then stir them all together in two-part adventures where the planet’s in peril but our heroes still have time for a few one-liners and a group hug at the end.
Except, of course, it’s not as easy as that. SJA worked because it hit just the right blend of alien scares and human drama. The childless Sarah Jane gets a family. Her alien son learns what it means to be human. The cocksure Clyde Langer finds there’s more to this world than he ever imagined… Just like Doctor Who, it was a show that revelled in adventure but always found time to explore and celebrate its characters without patronising its audience.
If you never watched SJA or you want to introduce it to younger viewers who weren’t around when it first aired ten years ago – another gulp - CBBC are running the first two-parter, which introduces/re-establishes characters like Sarah and Clyde, plus two faves from its later years: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith features the Tenth Doctor, Nigel Havers and a heart-wrenching plotline while The Curse of Clyde Langer is thought-provoking, funny, scary and above all, bold. These three stories are the perfect intro to SJA!
Need five more reasons to visit the gang on Bannerman Road? Or want to convince your kids to give SJA a go? Allons-y…
Sarah Jane Smith
One of the Doctor’s most popular companions shines as she takes centre-stage. The late Elisabeth Sladen somehow made her most famous character both wise and faintly naïve. Peace-loving, but always ready to fight for justice on her own terms. Sarah Jane may have been an intrepid reporter, but this Lois Lane proved she didn’t need Superman to save the day.
Here be Monsters!
SJA had a rogues gallery to rival the Doctor’s… Sontarans, Slitheen and the Graske all made it from the Time Lord’s travels to Sarah’s streets but new foes like the chilling Nightmare Man, sinister Shansheeth and the gun-toting Mona Lisa (no, really) were all fabulous baddies. Special mention to the terrifying Elijah Spellman played by Bradley Walsh. Whatever happened to him, eh?
Forget DC Darkness
Recent heroes have needed a good psychologist more than a trusty sidekick (yes, Batfleck we’re looking at you…) and although SJA did touch on real world issues (see below) it was full of banter, jokes and plenty of wry observation. Basically it was #LOL before #LOL was a thing.
Sure, SJ and her gang had to deal with the Things from Outer Space but there were other real-world problems that kept the programme grounded. Maria Jackson watches her parents grow apart, Rani dealt with jealousy and a nagging fear of letting her parents down and The Curse of Clyde Langer offers a surprisingly moving and unsweetened take on homelessness.
Yes, this show was owned by Sarah Jane and her gang, but nobody complained when the Doctor himself showed up! David Tennant guested in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith and Matt Smith materialised in Death of the Doctor. Fun fact! SJA got a big ratings boost when the Doctor rocked up but newbies loved the show so much they stayed with it even after the TARDIS was long gone!
Love a good wedding?
Okay, this is only half a reason because to give you the whole thing would be spoilerific BUT the closing moments of The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith deliver more feels than most long-running dramas manage in 57 episodes. The Tenth Doctor’s farewell to his old companion is a real tear-jerker that has extra ‘awww…’ if you’re a long-time fan, and Sarah Jane’s journey is shown to be… Well, you’ll just have to watch to find out!