Comeback

Sarah Jane Smith: ComebackYears after her travels in the TARDIS ended, Sarah Jane Smith has resumed her job as an investigative journalist, though her stint with TV network Planet 3 ended in disgrace after one of her exposes was proven to be based on false evidence. Fired by her network, Sarah’s troubles didn’t end there, as her identity, bank account and her employability were systematically erased. With the help of Natalie, her former Planet 3 producer, Sarah is still on the trail of a big story, but now she’s trying to find out who tainted her last big story – and her paranoia is growing. The trail leads to a bank where Sarah assumes a new identity and takes a job – but her cover is blown by the police when the bank is robbed. Sarah receives a message from her friend Ellie, an environmental activist, to meet her the next day at an isolated village, and Ellie’s friend Josh insists on accompanying Sarah, especially after she goes to meet with the bank manager again and finds him dead – with a note on his desk also referring to the village where Sarah is supposed to meet Ellie. Sarah and Josh go to retrieve her car, which she’s taken to keeping hidden in a garage away from her home for security reasons, only to see a man break into it and blow it up. They decide at this point that public transport might be a safer way to get there, and when they do arrive, they find Ellie’s environmentalist group preparing to protest a French biochemical company’s gradual plan to take over the entire village. Only some of Ellie’s environmentalist colleagues have gone missing, and the corpses have begun piling up near the village’s legendary healing well…

Order this CDwritten by Terrance Dicks
directed by Gary Russell
music by David Darlington

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh Townsend), Sadie Miller (Natalie Redfern), Robin Bowerman (Harris), Juliet Warner (Ellie Martin), Alistair Lock (Mr. Venables), Matthew Brenher (Bank Robber), David John (Bank Robber), Nicholas Briggs (Mr. Hedges), David Jackson (The Squire), Peter Sowerbutts (Reverend Gosforth), Patricia Leventon (Maude)

Notes: Sadie Miller is Elisabeth Sladen’s daughter. David Jackson was better known to British SF fans as the gentle giant Gan during the first two seasons of Blake’s 7, and played minor roles in two episodes of Space: 1999; he died in 2005. Guest star Peter Miles has played characters who have crossed Sarah’s path before; during Jon Pertwee’s final season, he played Professor Whitaker in Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, and Davros’ right-hand man Nyder, who terrorized Sarah in Genesis Of The Daleks, during Tom Baker’s first year as the Doctor. The character of Ellie Martin, still played by Juliet Warner, was originally intended to be Samantha Jones from BBC Books’ early eighth Doctor novels, but the character was changed when it posed too many continuity problems for Big Finish; Ellie also shows up in the Doctor Who Unbound audio play He Jests At Scars… as the ill-fated human traveling companion of the Valeyard.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Tao Connection

Sarah Jane Smith: The Tao ConnectionThe latest in a series of disappearances of young men hits close to home for Sarah’s friends, and she decides to investigate the matter herself. With Josh in tow, Sarah finds that the missing men have become unwilling contributors to an experimental anti-aging serum which can only be replenished with the blood of living donors. At the center of this web of intrigue lies the eccentric Will Butley, determined to keep himself alive even at the expense of others – but even Sarah can’t begin to guess at how long his obscene experiments have been going on. And then Josh becomes his next “donor”…

Order this CDwritten by Barry Letts
directed by Gary Russell
music by David Darlington

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh Townsend), Sadie Miller (Natalie Redfern), Caroline Burns-Cook (Claudia Coster), Juliet Warner (Ellie Martin), Mark Donovan (DI Morrison), Moray Treadwell (Will Butley), Steven Wickham (Mr. Sharpe), Jane McFarlane (Nurse Jepson), Robert Curbishley (Read), Wendy Albiston (Meg Hawkins), Toby Longworth (Wong Chu), Maggie Stables (Mrs. Lythe)

Notes: Sarah apparently picked up a few of the finer points of Venusian Aikido from the third Doctor. Department C19’s Glasshouse, a top-secret government covert ops unit mentioned in the novels “Who Killed Kennedy?” and “The Scales Of Injustice” – gets its first audio mention here.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Test Of Nerve

Sarah Jane Smith: Test Of NerveAt her home, Sarah receives a package – a live rat in a glass cage, with a note attached. When Josh removes the note from the cage, a mechanism seals the cage completely and fills it with nerve gas, killing the rat. If that isn’t ominous enough, the note promises that the same will happen to all of London unless Sarah “finds the truth” in 24 hours. Sarah next gets a visit from James Carver, a man whose name has been in the news recently after being detained and questioned by police following a scuffle with a member of Parliament. Carver, seeming nervous and unstable, claims to have gotten hold of enough sarin gas to kill the entire population of London – and even shows real proof. He claims that he’ll release it in the London underground during rush hour if certain demands aren’t met by six in the morning. Natalie insists that Sarah call the police, but Sarah tries to make use of her contact within the C19 agency instead; shortly after confirming that Carver is dangerous and is in possession of the sarin capsules, Sarah’s contact is found dead and Sarah herself is framed for the murder. And while she’s in police custody, answering questions, Sarah’s losing precious time …and so is London.

Order this CDwritten by David Bishop
directed by Gary Russell
music by David Darlington

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh Townsend), Sadie Miller (Natalie Redfern), Robin Bowerman (Harris), Caroline Burns-Cook (Claudia Coster), Juliet Warner (Ellie Martin), Mark Donovan (DI Morrison), Roy Skelton (James Carver), Alistair Lock (Newsreader)

Notes: Roy Skelton’s voice graced many an episode of the original Doctor Who series, emanating from Daleks and Cybermen alike.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Ghost Town

Sarah Jane Smith: Ghost TownDetermined to get away from it all after the sarin gas threat, Sarah and Josh take a vacation to Romania to visit one of Sarah’s journalism mentors. But trouble seems to follow – with an international peace conference taking place nearby, and the delegate from America and his wife staying with Sarah’s friend, the visit is hardly normal. On the first night, Sarah sees something that she can only describe as a ghost; the next night, a sighting of something similar frightens the American delegate’s wife literally to death. Sarah and Josh set up recording devices to capture the next appearance of the “apparitions,” but even though there is another sighting, the evidence doesn’t show up on tape – and the enigmatic butler of the house turns up dead. Sarah realizes that someone is manufacturing the “ghosts” to disrupt the peace talks, but that realization, and her hunch about who is responsible, may make her the next target.

Order this CDwritten by Rupert Laight
directed by Gary Russell
music by David Darlington

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh Townsend), Ingrid Evans (Yolande), Brian Miller (Abbotly), Robert Jezek (Jack McElroy), Elizabeth Faulkner (Candice McElroy), Mark Donovan (Professor Vodanski)

Notes: For the first time in the Sarah Jane Smith audio series, the 1981 one-off Doctor Who TV spinoff K-9 & Company is referenced as part of the continuity. Between Test Of Nerve and this story, Sarah has sold off her late Aunt Lavinia’s Moreton-Harwood residence; Brendan hasn’t been living there as he’s moved on to a career in Silicon Valley.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre

Sarah Jane Smith: Mirror, Signal, ManoeuvreSarah leaves the country on assignment, ignoring frantic warnings from Natalie that a reporter from Sarah’s former employer, Planet 3, is tailing her. Even when those warnings become even more ominous ones that the Planet 3 reporter is not, in fact, a Planet 3 reporter, and even after Sarah has met the “reporter” and figured out that something doesn’t add up, she forges ahead with her story. Josh is at Sarah’s new home when the place is robbed, and even though the robbers rough Josh up, he sees them take the non-functional K-9. Natalie discovers more evidence about the “reporter” Sarah has befriended, discovering that she has a connection to a group whose former members could be out to destroy Sarah’s career, if not Sarah herself. But Sarah isn’t looking ahead for these signs anymore – only over her shoulder.

Order this CDwritten by Peter Anghelides
directed by Gary Russell
music by David Darlington

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh Townsend), Patricia Maynard (Miss Winters), Sadie Miller (Natalie Redfern), Robin Bowerman (Harris), Louise Faulkner (Wendy Jennings), Peter Miles (Dr. Brandt), Toby Longworth (Taxi Driver), Mark Donovan (Taxi Driver)

Notes: Sarah ran afoul of Miss Winters in the first Tom Baker Doctor Who story, Robot, when she helped to expose the criminal activities of Maynard’s SRS organization. As with the Big Finish UNIT plays, this story dates Robot in the 1980s, rather than that story’s original mid-1970s airdate. Miss Winters and her cohorts steal K-9 to use his voice synthesizer to try to plant misleading evidence in Sarah’s own voice, though it’s implied that he had ceased to function before he was stolen. (This tallies, more or less, with Sarah’s account in the 2006 TV episode School Reunion, in which the tenth Doctor finally repairs him.)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Buried Secrets

Sarah Jane Smith: Buried SecretsTwo years after Hilda Winters’ attempt on her life, Sarah suddenly finds herself relieved of the obligation to testify about the incident – Winters herself is murdered while awaiting trial. Josh, still overprotective of Sarah, marks the occasion with a bitter “good riddance,” but when a letter from Winters arrives – apparently written before, and yet predicting, her death – Sarah is spooked. When Sarah shows up for a yearly rendezvous with her fellow former TARDIS traveler Harry Sullivan, Harry doesn’t show, but a man claiming to be his stepbrother, Will Sullivan, shows up instead. Due to leave for a 13-month stay at an Antarctic research base (which, coincidentally, happens to have been funded by Sarah herself with the money she inherited from her late Aunt Lavinia), Will is also looking for Harry. Sarah’s friend Natalie has moved on to become a research assistant to a prominent forensic scientist, though an excavation into a crypt that should contain a body thousands of years old turns out to hold the body of a very recent murder victim, and Nat herself becomes a suspect. When Sarah and Josh go to visit her in Italy, Sarah discovers that the Book of Tomorrows mentioned in Hilda Winters’ posthumously delivered letter is very real – and it belongs to a secret order that believes Sarah herself is playing her part in an ancient prophecy. And one member of that order wishes to help Sarah complete her prophetic role by killing her.

Order this CDwritten by David Bishop
directed by John Ainsworth
music by Steve Foxon

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh), Sadie Miller (Nat), Tom Chadbon(Will Sullivan), Ivor Danvers (Professor Edmons), Daniel Barzotti (Luca), Shaun Ley (Newsreader), Jacqueline Pearce (The Keeper), David Gooderson (Dexter), Patricia Leventon (Maude Fletcher), Stephen Greif (Sir Donald Wakefield)

Notes: Tom Chadbon appeared twice in televised Doctor Who, as rough-and-tumble detective Duggan in City Of Death (1979) and Merdeen in the first four episodes of The Trial Of A Time Lord (1986). This second “season” of Sarah’s audio adventures also reunites the original pair of villains from Blake’s 7, Jacqueline “Servalan” Pearce and Stephen Greif, who originated the role of Travis in that show’s first season.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Snow Blind

Sarah Jane Smith: Snow BlindTwo months after her brush with death in Italy, Sarah is still recuperating from being shot, and planning to pay the Morgan expedition in Antarctica (and Will Sullivan) a visit. Josh insists on going with her, not quite trusting how conveniently a close relative of an old friend has insinuated himself into Sarah’s life. When they arrive there, however, all is not well – Will is sporting a black eye, tensions are running high among the small team at the isolated Antarctic base, and it seems that Sarah can’t get a straight answer to any straight questions. She begins to worry that another Krynoid seed pod has been found, but something else is happening behind the scenes – something deadly, and something that has a connection to the secret order whose members tried to murder Sarah in Italy.

Order this CDwritten by David Bishop
directed by John Ainsworth
music by Steve Foxon

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh), Tom Chadbon(Will Sullivan), Nicholas Briggs (Munro), Julia Righton (Morgane), Jack Galagher (Jack), Shaun Ley (Newsreader), Jacqueline Pearce (The Keeper), David Gooderson (Dexter), Stephen Greif (Sir Donald Wakefield)

Notes: Sarah’s previous visit to Antarctica and her encounter with a Krynoid seed pod took place in the televised 1976 Doctor Who story Seeds Of Doom.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Fatal Consequences

Sarah Jane Smith: Fatal ConsequencesAfter returning from another brush with death in Antarctica, Sarah, Josh and Will pry into a research company with ties to Hilda Winters – and to the secret society that has twice tried to kill Sarah. Protests fill the streets outside the company’s research center, where Josh finds his environmentalist friend Maude worried about her daughter, who managed to get inside the building but never returned. Will uses his medical credentials to gain access to the center, only to discover that he is expected. Sir Donald Wakefield, a terminally ill multimillionaire who has made recent news headlines by planning to be on the first passenger flight into space, contacts Sarah and reveals that he heads up another faction of the secret society, and warns her that one of her closest friends has orders to kill her. When the society’s more violent faction starts a countdown to the release of a deadly bio-engineered plague, they name their price for stopping the outbreak: Sarah must lay down her life willingly.

Order this CDwritten by David Bishop
directed by John Ainsworth
music by Steve Foxon

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh), Tom Chadbon (Will Sullivan), Shaun Ley (Newsreader), Jacqueline Pearce (The Keeper), David Gooderson (Dexter), Patricia Leventon (Maude), Katarina Olsson (Emily), Stephen Greif (Sir Donald Wakefield)

Notes: As it turns out, the secret society was founded based on a misinterpretation of journals written by Duke Giuliano after he met Sarah herself – a herald from his own future – in the televised adventure Masque Of Mandragora.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Dreamland

Sarah Jane Smith: DreamlandOnce again, Sarah’s life is saved by Josh, though this time, in addition to killing the Keeper, he’s also killed Will Sullivan. Sarah puts as much distance between herself and Josh as she can, but he still tries to stay in touch with her, even showing up at Will’s funeral. Just when Sarah’s had about enough, Sir Donald Wakefield shows up too, inviting her to join him on the first passenger flight into space – a flight that will coincide with Earth passing through the tail of a comet that last approached the planet 500 years ago, a comet whose return now was predicted in the writings of Count Giuliano. Sir Donald also reveals that Josh is his son – and an operative of the pacifist chapter that follows Giuliano’s writings as prophecy. Sarah and Nat take Sir Donald up on the offer and are flown to the launch site – a place the rest of the world knows as Area 51. But while Sarah is undergoing training for her first visit to space since her travels with the Doctor, there’s a change of crew: Sir Donald’s cancer returns with a vengeance, and on his deathbed, he asks Josh to replace him on the flight. But once the passenger spaceship launches, something goes wrong. The pilot exposes himself as one of the Keeper’s last operatives, carrying out his mission to deliver Sarah to death’s door. Josh and the pilot exchange gunfire, damaging the controls in the process and leaving Sarah as the only survivor as the ship pushes into a higher orbit than it was designed for – and straight into the path of the comet.

Order this CDwritten by David Bishop
directed by John Ainsworth
music by Steve Foxon

Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Jeremy James (Josh), Sadie Miller (Nat), Shaun Ley (Newsreader), Jon Winberg (Kimmel), Toby Longworth (Mission Control), Patricia Leventon (Maude), Stephen Greif (Sir Donald Wakefield)

Notes: Again, this story ties into events in the televised Doctor Who story The Masque Of Mandragora. Recorded prior to the filming of the new series episode School Reunion, the second “season” of Sarah Jane Smith audio stories was also the last, since Elisabeth Sladen signed on to reprise the character on television in her own children’s TV spinoff series. Though Big Finish PR guru John Ainsworth has stated that School Reunion falls between the two seasons of Sarah audio stories, Sarah here tells Nat about the Doctor in the past tense, as though she hasn’t seen him again – making it easier to place School Reunion (and, of course, Sarah’s spinoff series) after both sets of audio stories. Of course, precisely how it fits anywhere would be much easier to determine if the character’s return to TV hadn’t interrupted the audio series in mid-cliffhanger…

LogBook entry by Earl Green