Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Proper Fanboy Thrill..."

45 years is a hell of a long time, especially for a television drama. A show like Doctor Who, to run for that length of time, has such a mythology because of it - the TARDIS, the Daleks, UNIT, Sarah Jane Smith... the list is too massive to attempt. Of course another important slice of Doctor Who's history that we simply can't afford to ignore is also something that hasn't ever appeared on the show. It's not even referenced - it can't ever be! Because it's Doctor Who Magazine, the series' official publication which this month reaches its 400th issue milestone.

Three cheers for DWM!!

Inside this month's issue are a *lot* of references and news features regarding The Sarah Jane Adventures. Firstly, a news article revealling Nikki Smith - producer of the SJA series 2 - will be moving over to Doctor Who in 2009 to produce one of the four 'specials' that we can expect before Doctor Who returns for season five in 2010.

Nikki is in charge of the second special - which SJ.tv believes to be airing sometime around the August bank holidays next year. Says Nikki: "The scale of production and profile of the show are both so much bigger with Doctor Who that I'm expecting plenty of fresh challenges all round. Handling the media interest will probably be the biggest difference to Sarah Jane which gets more modest attention."

The episode is co-written by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford.

Tracie Simpson produces the remaining three specials - including one that Gareth Roberts co-wrote with Russell T Davies, that has been confirmed as airing next Easter.

Filming begins January 10th 2009.

Meanwhile Elisabeth Sladen recorded the latest two SJA audio adventures - "The Time Capsule" by Peter Anghelides and "The Ghost House" by Stephen Cole - on August 29th. They're due for release on November 13th and are available for pre-order via Amazon.co.uk by clicking on the above links. At the minute you can pick them up for a *very* lovely £3.59!!

The main focus of attention for us SJA fans, however, is the magazine's four page preview of series two, which speaks to head writer Phil Ford and Russell T Davies:

"It was scary," Ford tells David Bailey, "The first series surprised everybody with just how good it was. I mean, we were blown away by how great it looked. Everything worked: the scripts worked, the actors' performances were brilliant, the special effects were great, and everything was marvellous."

Enough about series one! Onwards and upwards - what does this new series offers us viewers...?

The Sontarans!

Phil Ford, "I thought, 'I'd really love to see the Sontarans if we get a second series.' I had no idea that Russell was keen on bringing the Sontarans back. So I leapt at the chance, it was fantastic to do. Commander Kaagh (played by Anthony O'Donnell) is the last survivor of the task force that attacked in "The Sontaran Strategm" - and he's got a score to settle! He's a different kind of Sontaran - we haven't seen a Sontaran like this before. He's got a few tricks up his sleeve..."

Russell T Davies, "When the SJA was commissioned it was part of its DNA that it would re-use Doctor Who monsters, simply to save on budget. It feels genuinely wasteful to invent a monster and then pack it off to BBC exhibitions. And at the same time, if a creature's as successful as the Sontarans, then we've got lots more stories to tell, and Sarah Jane gives us the freedom to expand... I'm always very keen on that - if we're bringing something back, then let's find out something new."

Phil Ford, "Personally I think he's the best Sontaran we've ever seen in the Doctor Who world."

New girl, Rani Chandra!!

Phil Ford, "Rani is possibly more streetwise than Maria was. She's perhaps a little more headstrong, as well. Crucially, she is 'into weird', as she says, and she wants to be a journalist. So there's something we can instantly build on in terms of the relationship between her and Sarah Jane."

Russell T Davies, "Anjli (who plays Rani) is a fantastic addition to the team."

Phil Ford, "Sarah Jane - not surprisingly - thinks, 'Oh great. This isn't such hot news...' And she's already warned Luke and Clyde that, whoever moves in over the road, there's no way that they're going to find out about what goes on at number 13. But you kind of know she's going to!"

The return of the Brigadier!!!

Russell T Davies, "Phil's script was utterly convincing. He makes the Brigadier work here and now, not just as a piece of nostalgia. For a new viewer, it's a bit like introducing Granddad. Or, on a more mythic level, that wise old guru you turn to in times of need. When they meet, Sarah Jane hugs him, the Brigadier hugs her, and that's all the backstory you need! So don't expect complex discussions about UNIT dating or 'Whatever happened to the time scoop?'"

Phil Ford, "Without wanting to give too much away, the Brigadier is on that battlefront, if you like, between the old UNIT that we remember from the 1970's and the new UNIT that it has become. And kids know what UNIT is, and they've kind of heard the Brigadier mentioned in Doctor Who, so when we bring him in, there's immediately a reference to what he was doing in Peru [during "The Poison Sky"]."

Russell T Davies, "Oh, it was brilliant. Proper fanboy thrill. But even Julie Gardner, who knows little of the UNIT years, came out of the readthrough saying of Nick, 'What a performance!' That's all you need, great acting."

Phil Ford, "He's retired now, he's a lot older, he's got a gammy leg - but he's still the Brigadier."

A potential series three??

Phil Ford, "If I were a betting man, I'd say there'll be a series three."

Russell T Davies, "We're desperate for a third series! There are already third series scripts in existence, so our hopes are high. It deserves it. Lis Sladen deserves it, she's so magnificent."

Also inside this issue - Russell T Davies talks about his trip to watch David Tennant play "Hamlet" in his regular Production Notes; interviews with Davies and Tennant; the Time Team are joined by actor Colin Baker as they watch the Sixth Doctor's final six episodes; a look back at DWM's long history, and part one of a brand new comic strip adventure, "ThinkTWICE".

DWM issue 400 is out from tomorrow, priced £3.99.

Issue 82 of sister publication Doctor Who Adventures (out tomorrow) will include a pull out section covering the SJA. It's priced £2.10.

The Sarah Jane Adventures series two begins September 29th on CBBC on BBC One.
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