Friday, October 17, 2008

Tempting Berserkers

Gareth Roberts and Joseph Lidster are writers that I respect, and we're honoured to have them involved with The Sarah Jane Adventures. Roberts managed to capture just the right side of whimsicle in his early Virgin New Adventures, and last year's SJA stories (well, just "Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane" really... let's pretend "Revenge of the Slitheen" never happened ;) ) saw him step into darker territory, ground that fellow writer Joe Lidster happens to already be familiar with, thanks to his work at Big Finish with audio plays like "Terror Firma".

Both writers are back this year on the SJA - and Doctor Who Magazine spoke to them both about what we can expect, and the challenges of writing:

Gareth Roberts on...

Episodes 5 & 6 - "Secrets of the Stars": "It's a character piece, based around the astrologer Truman as played by Russ Abbott. It didn't start out that way, but the story revolves around him - literally, as you'll see. I loved the notion of an ageing failure who suddenly becomes the king of the world. And Russ Abbott is just brilliant."

Episodes 9 & 10 - "The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith": "[This] is more of a piece with 'Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?" Not quite a sequel, but there are returning elements. It pushes Sarah Jane and Luke as characters to their absolute emotional limit. But more I will not say."

Next Easter's Doctor Who special: "[It's] far too early to give anything away. Oh, except that every last word you read on the internet and the tabloids is true, of course, and the Rani will soon be locked in battle with Paul McGann and his sassy android assistant. Not really. I am not going to say anything interesting, it's months away - you've got Christmas yet...!"

Joseph Lidster on...

The move from Torchwood to the SJA: "It's actually not as big a leap as you'd think. The Sarah Jane Adventures might be a CBBC programme but I didn't worry too much about making it for 'kids'. You have to watch the language obviously, and it can't be too terrifying, but it's still dramatic and emotional and scary. The only note I think we got from CBBC was 'careful with the scary teeth!'"

Being called in to write for the SJA: "I was called into a meeting with the producers and Phil Ford [the lead writer] and they asked me if I'd like to write for the series. They already knew what story they wanted me to tell: 'Clyde's dad comes back and they go on a road trip!' Which was very exciting but also a bit scary because you're immediately thinking, 'A character-based road trip? In The Sarah Jane Adventures?' I was really thrilled to be asked."

The Sarah-lite episode: "I was also told that it had to be the 'Sarah Jane-lite' story. That was tricky because, obviously, Gareth Roberts did it so well with "Whatever Happened to Sarah-Jane?", so it was about trying to find a different way of doing it. Mine is much simpler: she basically goes off and has her own adventure and in many ways the story is about what happens when Sarah's not around, and how things can go wrong. They don't even have Mr. Smith to help them this time!"

Episodes 7 & 8 - "The Mark of the Berserker": "The story is about the return of Clyde's dad, Paul. If you remember, in Series One it's revealed that Clyde's dad ran off with his wife's sister! So, his return to the family home isn't exactly welcomed. Basically, though, he's not a bad person, he's just weak. The story is about Clyde revealing the 'Sarah Jane Smith' world to Paul and how Paul reacts to it. Oh, and there's a couple of surprises in the second episode!"

The interview extracts come courtesy of Doctor Who Magazine issue 401, which is out now at all good stockists priced a very reasonable £3.99 - what you waiting for? Go get it now!

DigitalSpy has a preview of part one of "Secrets of the Stars" here. As ever, one of the cryptic clues will prove to play false when the actual episode airs...

Meanwhile 0.5 million people watched the first part of the "Day of the Clown" adventure, with an audience share of 5.3% and an Appreciation Index of 82 (the highest of the whole day).
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