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 12:00 AM, 28-SEPTEMBER-06
 
Who's Sarah Jane Gets Own Show

Doctor Who executive producer Russell T. Davies told SCI FI Wire that production is underway on the spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, featuring Elisabeth Sladen in her role as the title investigative journalist, Sarah Jane Smith, who is known to Who fans as the companion to the third and fourth Doctors in the 1970s. "It's a one-off special, not a pilot," Davies said in an interview in London. "And that will be followed by a series that starts filming in April. Right now, we have to balance Doctor Who and [spinoff series] Torchwood, but the most important thing we always have to remember is that Doctor Who is the mothership. Without that, we wouldn't exist, so we plan everything very carefully."

The one-hour Sarah Jane special will bring back the character, who was re-introduced in the second season of the current incarnation of Doctor Who in an episode titled "School Reunion" earlier this year on BBC1 in the United Kingdom. Smith was originally introduced in an earlier version of Doctor Who in 1973. "[We're] getting our team ready to make a one-hour Sarah Jane," Davies said. "After that, we'll start working on the scripts, and by next April we'll be ready for the series, so it's all dovetailed nicely."

In the new series, Sladen's Smith will appear with Yasmine Paige, who plays Smith's 13-year-old niece, Maria, and the two team up to battle alien forces they encounter around Britain, including the scheming Ms. Wormwood (played by Samantha Bond), who appears in the one-hour special.

One character that won't be appearing in the series is Smith's loyal robot dog, K-9, who last appeared in "School Reunion" and will also play a role in the special. "Sadly, we don't own the rights to K-9," Davies said. "[Writer] Bob Baker granted us the rights for 'School Reunion,' but he's been planning his own spinoff series for K-9 for the past 10-15 years. That series is in development right now with Jetix, so I hope it happens, and good luck to him."

The character of Sarah Jane Smith has recently appeared in a series of licensed audio adventures by Big Finish. But Davies said that he doesn't consider those appearances part of the Doctor Who canon. "Nothing we say in The Sarah Jane Adventures will contradict anything that ever happened in the Big Finish stories, but neither will we refer to them, because we're very different," Davies said. "Much as I love the Big Finish adventures, it's a very small and very specific audience, and if we tried to pick up from that, no one would have any idea what we're on about. Plus, those Sarah Jane stories were very much for adults, and this is a children's series, and it won't be shown in the Doctor Who timeslot either; it will be shown earlier. So it's a brand-new start. It's written as though if you never heard of Sarah Jane and don't know what's going on."

Doctor Who begins its third season in the United Kingdom on BBC1 early next year. The second season of Doctor Who begins airing in the United States on SCI FI Channel on Sept. 29 and will air Fridays at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The "School Reunion" episode will air on SCI FI on Oct. 11. —Joe Nazzaro
 


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Source: Nielsen Galaxy Report, 9/18/06 - 9/24/06. Fewer than 10 listings appear because fewer than 10 regular original SF&F shows appeared on broadcast networks during the time period.