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article imageKaty Manning reprises her Doctor Who role after nearly 40 years

By Mathew Wace Peck     Oct 3, 2010 in Entertainment
Katy Manning, who appeared in Doctor Who with Jon Pertwee in the seventies, is set to return in two episodes of the BBC’s spin-off drama, The Sarah Jane Adventures.
The first episodes will premiere on BBC 1 in a few weeks’ time, and will see Manning, who plays Jo Grant, join forces with another of the Doctor’s former companions, Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen).
Although both companions originally appeared in Doctor Who in the 1970s, they have never appeared together on screen – until now.
Manning played Jo Grant for three seasons of the science-fiction drama – from 1971 to 1973 – before leaving Pertwee’s third Doctor to marry Professor Cliff Barnes (Stewart Bevan), an ecologist who was introduced in her final story – The Green Death, by Robert Sloman and Barry Letts.
The Doctor’s next companion, Sarah Jane Smith, joined the Doctor in the following story – The Time Warrior, by Robert Holmes. Sladen played that character for four years – alongside Pertwee and Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor, from 1973 to 1976 – but returned to the role in 2006 – opposite David Tennant’s tenth Doctor, in School Reunion by Toby Whithouse (Being Human) – and has continued in the role since then in the The Sarah Jane Adventures. The current series is the fourth, and a fifth is already in production.
This week’s episodes, titled Death of the Doctor, also feature a guest appearance by Matt Smith, the current, eleventh, Doctor.
Katy’s World
Manning has launched a website, Katy’s World, to coincide with her return to the Who-niverse. Among other things, it contains a biography, Q&A section, picture gallery and personal message about how she feels about returning to the role that made her famous:
"I can't believe it [. . .] It was wonderful playing Jo again. The script was by Russell T Davies and it’s superb. We find out what happened to Jo since she parted company with the Doctor at the end of The Green Death."
Meanwhile, Davies (Torchwood, Queer as Folk) insists that Jo Grant’s return will not spoil the character’s original exit. He told SFX:
For the first time ever, I went and watched old stuff. We used to bring back monsters [in [Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures] and I didn’t actually go and watch the old [Who] tapes, partly because I think the way you remember them is just as powerful as what they actually were. But I did go back and watch the end of The Green Death. And I think it’s really important to preserve the absolute beauty of what [producer] Barry Letts and [script editor] Terrance Dicks did there.
Davies also talked about being true to Manning's character, as portrayed in Doctor Who:
We talked about it a lot beforehand. I know there’s a feeling that she’d have got divorced, and there was a theory that she’d be living on her own in Wales in a little cottage [. . .] and you think, “Nice idea, but actually that’s absolutely betraying the way we left her.” We left her with the promise of happiness, of adventure, of love and joy, and you can’t be cynical and undercut that by saying, “Oh, she’s a drug addict now! Her husband left her, she’s lonely, her life is bitter’. That’s just interfering with classic Doctor Who and rewriting what we were promised. So I was absolutely strict about that.
The new series of The Sarah Jane Adventures begins on BBC 1 on 11 October. Death of the Doctor comprises episodes 5 and 6. The show also stars Tommy Knight as Luke Smith, Daniel Anthony as Clyde Langer, Anjli Mohindra as Rani Kapoor, and John Leeson and Alexander Armstrong as the voices of K9 and Mr Smith, respectively.
Leeson will also be appearing as the voice of K9 in another Doctor Who spin-off, K9, which has been developed by Bob Baker and Paul Tamms. The 26-part series has already been broadcast in Australia, where it was made, and will be shown in the UK later this autumn on Five.
More about Katy manning, Doctor Who, Elisabeth sladen, Sarah jane adventures, Torchwood
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