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article imageUK sci-fi spin-off show gets two very special guest stars

By Andrew John     Apr 19, 2010 in Entertainment
BBC Wales has announced that the fourth series of the Doctor Who spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, will have two special guest stars when it returns this autumn.
In a special two-part adventure, written by Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk, The Second Coming), the Doctor’s former companion, Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), will be reunited with another of his former assistants, Jo Grant (Katy Manning). And they’ll both be joined by the eleventh Doctor himself, Matt Smith.
“The two episodes will see the Doctor and his two former time-travelling partners caught up in an alien-busting adventure that will entertain Doctor Who fans of all ages,” says the BBC this afternoon (British Summertime).
Sladen, who has played Sarah Jane since 1974, said, “It’s a fantastic script and I can’t wait to work with another Doctor, and hope Matt has fun with us. I’ve known Katy for ages and I am delighted to be working with her. I last met her in LA but this time we will be in Cardiff [Wales]. LA was good but Cardiff is better.”
Manning, who last played Jo Grant 37 years ago (1971–74), moved to Australia after leaving Doctor Who, but recently returned to live in the UK. She added: “Playing Jo Grant again is something I never really considered. I was gob-smacked when they told me, and I’m over the moon. What an incredible little treat! I come home and this is one of the first things that happen.”
Nikki Wilson, executive producer of The Sarah Jane Adventures, says: “We are absolutely thrilled to be introducing Sarah Jane and the gang to both the eleventh Doctor and Jo Grant, and to have a script penned by Russell T Davies is the icing on the cake!
Mixture of thrills
“Viewers are in for a real treat, with an action-packed story full of Russell’s usual wit and warmth, which takes the gang inside a secret base beneath Snowdon and introduces brand-new vulture aliens, the mysterious Shansheeth. All this, plus a trip to an alien planet – a first for The Sarah Jane Adventures.”
The production office in Cardiff – where Doctor Who and it’s spin-off shows, Torchwood (starring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness) and The Sarah Jane Adventures, have been produced since 2004 – says that the CBBC (Children’s BBC) show will contain the usual mixture of thrills, laughs and scares, and promises that the fourth series will include enemies old and new, including the terrors of the Nightmare Man and a dangerous journey back into history.
A galaxy of guest stars have already been lined up to appear in the series, including Laila Rouass (Primeval, Footballers’ Wives) and Cheryl Campbell (Pennies From Heaven), while David Bradley (Argus Filch in Harry Potter) will provide the voice of the Shansheeth in Davies’s special two-part story.
The Sarah Jane Adventures is executive-produced by Nikki Wilson and Russell T Davies and produced by Brian Minchin (Torchwood, Belonging). It stars Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), John Leeson (K9), Tommy Knight (Luke Smith), Daniel Anthony (Clyde Langer), Anjli Mohindra (Rani Chandra), Alexander Armstrong (voice of Mr Smith, the computer) and Yasmin Paige (Maria Jackson).
Writers on the fourth series include the show’s co-producer Phil Ford (who wrote last year’s Doctor Who animated adventure, Dreamland, starring David Tennant as the tenth Doctor and Georgia Moffett as Cassie Rice, and co-wrote with Davies the Who special The Waters of Mars, starring Tennant and Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide Brooke); Joseph Lidster (Torchwood); Rupert Laight; Gareth Roberts (who has written a number Doctor Who stories since its return in 2005); and Clayton Hickman (the former editor of Doctor Who Magazine). The Sarah Jane Adventures is a co-production between BBC Cymru Wales and Children’s BBC.
Russell T Davies was head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who from 2003 to 2010. He moved to the USA in 2009 to work on developing original drama for BBC America, where he has written a pilot for the American version of Torchwood for Fox. He continues to oversee Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures for the BBC, but has handed over the reins of Doctor Who to the current showrunner Steven Moffat.
Series 5 of the parent show, starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), is currently enjoying critical acclaim in the UK. The show’s US launch took place this past weekend, as did its Canadian launch and its launch in Australia. Australia is also currently showing the first series of K9, and the BBC will be launching its animated series, Doctor Who: The Adventure Games, on the Internet in June.
Katy Manning played Jo Grant in Doctor Who from 1971 to 1973, opposite Jon Pertwee’s third Doctor. Elisabeth Sladen played Sarah Jane Smith from 1973 to 1976, opposite Pertwee and Tom Baker (fourth Doctor). She reprised her role in 1981 in the very first Who spin-off, K9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend, before returning to Doctor Who 1983 for The Five Doctors and, again, opposite David Tennant, in 2006 for School Reunion, by Toby Whithouse (Being Human), 2008 for The Stolen Planet/Journey’s End, by Davies and 2010 for The End of Time, again by Davies. She has starred in The Sarah Jane Adventures since 2007.
The first series of The Sarah Jane Adventures is currently enjoying a successful UK repeat run every Wednesday at 7 p.m. on BBC Three. CBBC won the Children’s Channel of the Year Award at the Children’s BAFTAs in November 2008 and was named Children’s Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Digital Awards in June 2009. UK figures show that CBBC is one of the most-loved channels for children, reaching more six-to-12-year-olds than any other children’s channel in digital-television homes.
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