As those following Blogtor on Twitter will know, I made a trip down to the BFI in London yesterday for their special screening of The Sarah Jane Adventures story, Death of the Doctor. Thanks to all who Tweeted along the way.
The event itself kicked off with a bit of nostalgia, mainly in the form of the goodbye scenes for Jo Grant and Sarah Jane in their final "classic" Who stories. Clips from The Green Death and The Hand of Fear were blasted onto the big screen; the audience wept and laughed in equal amounts.
Warm, appreciative chortles were also generated, particularly from the former, and one wonders if some kind of Sunday afternoon screenings would be a success at the BFI. Anyway, I digress. A short "quiz" followed, however it may have been better received if they hadn't been giving out Merlin merchandise as prizes (I ain't joking). Full marks for proper questions though, one of them had me stumped!
I shan't properly review Death of the Doctor as I usually like to watch things twice before I comment. There was also a sound issue in the theatre that hampered my enjoyment so I'd rather ensure that I see it properly before I commit. (For those curious - the music completely overpowered certain parts of the dialogue; perhaps it was where I was seated but I know a number of the audience suffered this problem. Points off, whoever was in charge!)
I will say that the story (two episodes edited together here as one) is Russell T Davies' love letter, if I may use such a disgustingly overused phrase, to the role of the companion in Doctor Who - and we see just how much Sarah Jane meant/means to The Doctor during some very revealing conversations with Jo Jones (née Grant). Katy Manning is hilarious in her return though much of the cast also get some great lines. There are some tears however, and I did well up a bit during the companion "roll call" at the end when a certain couple were mentioned (it also elicited a round of applause from the audience).
There will be a full review to come in a few days but on one showing (and impaired, my hearing was impaired!), Death of the Doctor is a cracking SJA outing that will hopefully encourage more viewers to watch, with its added Matt Smith~goodness. And how wonderful to have RTD back on scripting duties.
A Q&A session took place shortly afterwards (where the sound was perfect, I will add) featuring Brand Manager Edward Russell, writer Joseph Lidster (The Nightmare Man), Who author and current SJA script editor, Gary Russell and actresses Katy Manning and Elisabeth Sladen.
Even before the questions had begun, Manning certainly caught the eye with what can only be referred to as short skirt. Blimey, wasn't anyone thinking of the fathers? The session was amiable and entertaining with some very pleasant tributes to Barry Letts and a most welcome nod to Sir Christopher of Eccleston.
Noteworthy info from the session included: Joseph Lidster had an email conversation with RTD about the possibility of a return for Liz Shaw or Ace; Gary Russell does not rule out the return of any former Doctors; Elisabeth Sladen was clearly miffed that the allotted shooting time for Series 3 was cut by three weeks; Katy Manning has no lurve for the new K~9 television series; and Series 5 has begun shooting with no end in sight, at the moment, for The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Chuck in some risque behaviour and remarks from Manning (during her time with Jon Pertwee and Daniel Anthony), some very forthright and illuminating guests and the wonderfully eloquent, and sometimes just damn funny, Elisabeth Sladen, and you've got yourself an amazing evening.
Oh, and look Who's coming in December...
Death of The Doctor airs Mon 25 & Tues 26 Oct on CBBC