Audio Review: The Sarah Jane Adventures: Children of Steel, Judgement Day

15:28 18 November 2011

Sarah Jane Adventures: Children of Steel

Sarah Jane Adventures: Children of Steel

Archant

(AudioGo £6.10 each)

THE tragic death of Sarah Jane actress Elizabeth Sladen from cancer earlier this year brought an unexpected and premature conclusion to the popular CBBC series in which she starred, and it may be that these two adventures will also conclude the range of audio spin-offs, in which case it is somewhat fitting that they provide such an appropriate coda to the character’s onscreen exploits, as well as an admirable tribute to Liz’s career.

Children of Steel, read by Daniel Anthony who plays Clyde in the show, recalls one of Sarah Jane’s earliest on-screen escapades, and her first alongside the Fourth Doctor, when she established a special bond with the K1 robot.

In this story by Martin Day, SJ discovers what she believes to be the head of a Victorian robot at an antique auction, part of the so-called Difference Golem, which contains a research probe from the future that somehow powers its brain.

Joined by Rani, Sky and Clyde, Sarah Jane visits Holcote House, the former residence of eccentric inventor Sir Joseph Montague, in a bid to determine the origins of this highly advanced technology, only to discover the dangers of meddling with artificial intelligence as the robot, now known as Adam, is returned to life…

With strong influences from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this is an entertaining romp which is ably read by Anthony, and would have succeeded just as well on screen as in an audio format.

The tenth and possibly final audio release in the SJA series, Judgement Day, offers a retrospective of Sarah Jane Smith’s career as a journalist which has rarely been recognised on television, explaining her role the aftermath of many of the alien incursions which featured both in Doctor Who and in her own eponymous show, including the evacuation of London following an influx of prehistoric monsters and the Skarasen’s attack on Parliament (as seen in Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Terror of the Zygons).

The determined young reporter who believed in revealing the truth came to realise that it was often better for the world at large if certain revelations about our place in the universe were kept hidden, and she was complicit in covering up what had really happened in a bid to restrict the public’s knowledge of aliens.

But although Sarah Jane believed she was doing the right thing, her past deeds are called into question by the Veritas, an ancient force for justice who place her on trial for her life…

Rani actress Anjli Mohindra admirably captures the personalities and vocal inflections of her fellow cast members, and Scott Gray’s narrative offers a rarely seen examination of the character and motivations of Sarah Jane Smith which couldn’t provide a better finale to the series if he’d tried. An outstanding conclusion to a highly successful range which will be much missed.

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