The Sarah Jane Adventures is a British science fiction television series, produced by BBC Cymru Wales for CBBC, created by Russell T Davies and starringElisabeth Sladen. The programme is a spin-off of the long-running BBC science fiction programme Doctor Who and focuses on the adventures of investigative journalist and former companion of The Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith. The series debuted on BBC One with a 60-minute special, entitled "Invasion of the Bane", on 1 January 2007. A full series of ten 25-minute episodes followed, beginning on 24 September 2007.
The first series consisted of five two-part stories, and a second series, comprising six two-part stories, began airing on 29 September 2008. A third series, once again comprising of six two-part stories to make a total of twelve episodes, with Russell T Davies serving as executive producer, started airing on 15 October 2009 and finished on 20 November 2009.
The fourth series aired beginning 11 October 2010. Another spin-off series Sarah Jane's Alien Files was shown concurrently with each of the first episodes of the stories. Filming for three of six two-part serials planned for the fifth series was completed prior to Elisabeth Sladen's death on 19 April 2011. Although some UK media such as the Sun tabloid reported in early May 2011 that production of the series was to continue, on 4 May 2011 the BBC announced that the fifth series will be the final one for the programme, and that the remaining six episodes will air at a later date "as a tribute to Elisabeth".
The Sarah Jane Adventures was nominated for a British Academy Children's Award in 2008 in the Drama category, and once again in 2009 for a BAFTA Cymru, in Children's Drama. The programme won a Royal Television Society 2010 award for Best Children's Drama.
Background and Development:
In 2006, Children's BBC expressed an interest in producing a Doctor Who spin-off. Their initial idea was "a drama based on the idea of a young Doctor Who", but Russell T Davies vetoed this. "Somehow, the idea of a fourteen-year-old Doctor, on Gallifrey inventing sonic screwdrivers, takes away from the mystery and intrigue of who he is and where he came from," said Davies. He suggested instead a series based on the Doctor's former companion Sarah Jane Smith.
The character of Sarah Jane Smith, played by Sladen, appeared in Doctor Who from 1973 to 1976, alongside Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor and later Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. A pilot episode for another Doctor Who spin-off series, K-9 and Company, made in 1981, featured Sarah Jane and the robot dog K-9; however, a full series was never commissioned. Sarah Jane and K-9 returned to Doctor Who in various media many times over the years, most notably in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors (1983), and in episodes "School Reunion" (2006), "The Stolen Earth" (2008), "Journey's End" (2008) and The End of Time (2010).
Sarah Jane is frequently voted the most popular Doctor Who companion by both Doctor Who fans and members of the general public. The prospect of a new television series focusing on Sarah Jane was first rumoured in The Sun in March 2006, prior to the airing of "School Reunion"; the report at that time suggested that Sarah Jane and K-9 would both appear in the series. The fact that a Sarah Jane series was being developed was first confirmed in the BBC's in-house newsletter, Ariel, in early August 2006. These early rumours were associated with the working title Sarah Jane Investigates.
K-9's only appearances in the show's first two series were a cameo in the special and an appearance in the last episode of the first series. This was due to the concurrent development of the independently produced children's series, K-9, which features a remodelled version of K-9 with only indirect nods to Doctor Who. However, in 2009 the robot appeared with theSarah Jane Adventures cast in a sketch for Comic Relief, and K-9 appeared in 6 episodes of the third series, followed by two more appearances in the fourth series. He did not appear at all in Series 5.