Paraphrased a teeny bit, but SJA's enigmatic Brand Manager, Edward Russell, said as much when I introduced myself to him at the See Me on CBBC event in Manchester over the weekend. Furthermore, he was actually aware of SARAH-JANE.tv! I kid thee not. 'We know everything(!)' he quipped.
Having been up since the crack o' dawn to get to Manchester before 9am [only three hours sleep, gah!] I can honestly say there's no greater wake-up call than hearing a senior New Who rep say he knows about your fansite!
If this interactive CBBC tour is any indication, though, the Beeb are really starting to acknowledge the value of fandom. This is evident in the sheer workmanship that went into the SJA corner of the event; where they'd recreated Mr Smith's attic set just so fans could have a go re-enacting mini episodes specially penned for the tour by SJA's very own Gary Russell!
Don't worry, that isn't Mr Smith's new screensaver for Series 3(!)
The basic format of the activity involved having kids go backstage for a few minutes to practice a simple SJA script. Once they were familiar with it, they'd be brought out for a dress rehearsal with a pseudo-alien played by 'Geoff' [pictured], a rather adorkable 20-something CBBC rep. Here, the children could iron out a few kinks with their lines. But for their final performance, the Beeb surprised 'em by whipping out a real-life SJA alien for them to act with!
This process was repeated dozens of times throughout the day, so to add a little variety they had two stories with two different aliens for kids to perform alongside. One performance involved a Judoon, and the other...a Blathereen!
' Really?!' I exclaimed, when Edward Russell informed me of this. 'Bet they look exactly like the Slitheen to save on the budget, right?'
'Actually,' he smirked, pausing for effect. 'They're Orange!'
The sound of my jaw hitting the floor could've been heard from space...
SARAH-JANE.tv founder, Anthony, [who'd accompanied me to the CBBC event that day] thought it worked, though. Orange is so their colour. And a lot more alieny, to boot! I'd tend to agree. Orange is quite a mature colour choice, and suits them a lot more than Green, I find. Of course, you can just imagine Clyde cracking a few jokes at their expense when the Blathereen make their first appearance in SJA's series three finale! To see both the Blathereen and Judoon in action, check out our exclusive videos of both performances below!
You may even find a little surprise at the start of each viddy ;)
[Videos no longer available]
The Sarah Jane Adventures © BBC 2009
You can distinctly hear Sarah Jane saying she's 'out and about searching for a missing spaceship that's fallen to Earth'! Prisoner of the Judoon reference, w00t! Her attire seems to confirm this, 'cause she wore exactly the same outfit in a recently leaked series three promotional picture.
The timing of the performances were a bit off 'cause they had another kid on a computer doing all the sound effects! Here's a snap of the user interface:
They even had a child as a 'Director' with a clapper board and everything! Personally, I thought that particular role was a bit pointless and didn't get the child as involved with the activity as they could've been. It felt more like a position a child could be shunned into if they weren't good at performing or using computers. Other than that though, I thought the activity was superb!
At the end of their session, the kids could collect a free DVD of their performance to take home with 'em! Lucky things! Grown-ups like myself couldn't take part *sob* but I did get the opportunity to go on set after hours!
'Mr Smith, I need you!' *dork*
When we weren't taking nerdy pictures of the attic, we went around the Trafford Centre to see what other SJA-ish activities we could get up to!
Ant and I gave out free SJA goodies to fans participating in the tour that day.
We dorkily surfed SARAH-JANE.tv and Gallifrey Base at an Apple Store.
We had a laugh at some VERY overpriced SJA DVD's in HMV.
And la pièce de résistance?
Ohhh yes...we actually did it...
It had a proper Warriors of Kudlak-style training video and everything! Sadly we couldn't actually take any pictures in the arena, but here are some dorky shots of Anthony and I in our Combat 3000-ish garb!
T'was the first time I'd ever played, and I can honestly say I'm totally hooked! For the first game, I placed 19th on the rankings. *fail* But let no one say I'm not a fast learner, 'cause by the second game I'd climbed up to 4th! Anthony pwned pretty hard and fragged his way into 2nd place on the leaderboard!
Note the dorky handle. :P Anthony nabbed 'Dr Who' straightaway, whilst I opted for something a little more Luke-y. *tips hat to Mr Knight* An hour of gameage later, we got some fun caricatures done of ourselves by a busking arty fellow:
Anthony thought his drawing didn't look anything like him, but I thought mine came out fairly accurate(!) Albeit not entirely flattering :P
It was approaching evening now, and what with the CBBC event coming to an end and Anthony heading off to work - we had to part ways shortly after. :(
I reflected on what an amazing day I'd had on my train ride home, and how my friendship with Ant was pretty darn solid. I even pondered what I'd learnt from New Who's Senior Brand Executive, Edward Russell, who was more than generous in the exclusive SJA info he'd been kind enough to share with me.
I was excited to learn a brand spankin' new cinema trailer for the third series was being planned, which would feature all four of the leading cast as opposed to just one or two. Look out for that tagged onto kids films in the next month or so! I was also thrilled to learn that the new cast publicity shots were going to feature a different coloured background and use an interesting technique where the cast have more interactivity with the picture elements. I'm aware of which colour and picture elements they'll use, but it's better left a surprise!
By far the most exciting thing I'd learnt concerned a cinematic SJA screening being planned in Liverpool prior to Waters of Mars airing. :O All four of the leading cast will be attending, but from what I gather - it's a press-only event! I'm guessing it's an advance screening of The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, featuring David Tennant - but it could just as easily be a random two-parter.
I'll endeavour to learn more when I see the CBBC Tour again, this time at the Thames Festival in London! Young fans can expect to take part in a slightly different story concerning the Berserker pendant, with an opening video featuring Anjli Mohindra! Here's a little preview to whet your appetite:
Wanna hear more? Then come along to the Thames Festival on September 12th! Seeing the story performed live is a hundred times better than watching one of my cruddy videos, and it's a great day out, to boot. Hope to see you thar!
EDIT: Just been checking my Facebook and found myself tagged in a nice piccy of the technical equipment used for the SJA attraction. Thanks, Ant!