a real world point of view
|A Girl's Best Friend|
|Novelised as:||K9 and Company|
|Main character(s):||Sarah Jane, K9|
|Main enemy:||Hecate Cult|
|Main setting:||Moreton Harwood, 1981|
|Premiere broadcast:||28 December 1981|
|Format:||1x50 minute episode|
|K9 and Company|
The BBC chose not to commission a new series, but did televise the episode as a holiday season special. It was only the second story of this kind in the Doctor Who franchise, preceded by more than a decade by "The Feast of Steven", a Christmas Day "break" from The Daleks' Master Plan.
This was the only attempt at a spin-off series during the original run of Doctor Who to reach production. It would be more than a quarter-century until this was attempted again. Furthermore, its studio filming was unusually completed at Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham — making it one of only two stories of the "classic" era (the other being TV: Horror of Fang Rock) to have the bulk of its studio recording completed outside Greater London.
It is common for this episode to be referred to only by the series title, K9 and Company, including its initial release on home video and in the Target Books novelisation.
Sarah Jane Smith is looking forward to a quiet Christmas with her aunt Lavinia in the sleepy village of Moreton Harwood. When she arrives, she finds her aunt missing and a surprise gift from an old friend waiting to be opened.
to be added
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Brendan Richards - Ian Sears
- K9 Mark III - John Leeson
- Bill Pollock - Bill Fraser
- George Tracey - Colin Jeavons
- Vince Wilson - Nigel Gregory
- Peter Tracey - Sean Chapman
- Aunt Lavinia - Mary Wimbush
- Juno Baker - Linda Polan
- Howard Baker - Neville Barber
- Henry Tobias - John Quarmby
- Lily Gregson - Gillian Martell
- P.C. Carter - Stephen Oxley
- Director - John Black
- Producer - John Nathan-Turner
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Writer - Terence Dudley
- Brendan Richards, Lavinia's ward, attends Wellington College but hopes to convince Lavinia to allow him to attend the local comprehensive school in Moreton Harwood as he did not like boarding. He has a close friend at Wellington named Travis, whose father is in the market gardening business. He is taking three extra O-Levels: Additional Maths, Physics and Biology.
- Brendan has a keen interest in computer technology. Consequently, he is extremely impressed by K9 Mark III's computational abilities. Although the original K9 unit was built by Professor Marius in the year 5000, he is nevertheless familiar with many of the components used in his construction.
The Doctor Edit
- The Doctor sent K9 to Sarah in 1978. He had been in an unopened box in her Aunt Lavinia's homes in South Croydon and Moreton Harwood for three years.
- K9 plays on the running gag regarding the Doctor's name and the title of the parent series when Brendan asks, "Who is the Doctor?" and K9 replies, "Affirmative."
- K9 announces himself as "Mark III", referencing the previous two versions of K9 (last seen in The Invasion of Time and Warriors' Gate, respectively) and in particular differentiating himself from the version last seen with Romana.
Story notes Edit
- This was the first official Doctor Who spin-off; the second was Torchwood, and the third was The Sarah Jane Adventures. K9 is featured in all but Torchwood. In 2009 K9, a TV series, was produced, but unlike Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures this was not produced or licenced by the BBC.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures debuted with its pilot episode, TV: Invasion of the Bane, only three days after the twenty-fifth anniversary of the original broadcast of this pilot.
- The Winter Hill transmitter in the North West region suffered a power blackout at the time this story was screening (most likely resulting in ratings lower than expected).
- The theme music was composed by Ian Levine. Supposedly, it was meant to be an orchestral score but was altered to be electronically performed with John Leeson "singing" in character as K9.
- Running fifty minutes, this was the first time a Doctor Who-related episode had exceeded thirty minutes in length.
- The original outline by John Nathan-Turner proposed that K9 Mark III was in fact sent by and under the control of the Master, but this element never made it to the screen.
- There is some significance in the names writer Terence Dudley gave his characters. One couple is named Baker, the name of Fourth Doctor actor Tom Baker.
- Peter is seen polishing his crash helmet with Mr. Sheen, a proprietary brand of furniture polish often used by motorcyclists. This is an unusual example of a product's brand name being clearly visible in a BBC drama.
- This story had the working titles of Sarah and K9 and One Girl and Her Dog.
- Although Brendan's age is never stated in dialogue, he is said to be fourteen years old in the subsequent novelisation, PROSE: K9 and Company.
- 8.4 million viewers
Filming locations Edit
- Cirencester in the Gloucestershire countryside.
- Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham
- Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire
- Wishanger Farm, Wischanger, Gloucestershire
- Parish Church, North Woodchester, Gloucestershire
- Barnsley House, Barnsley, Gloucestershire
- Cheltenham Road, Bisley, Gloucestershire
- Miserden Park Estate, Miserden, Gloucestershire
- Miserden Nurseries, Gloucestershire
- Miserden, Gloucestershire
- Bear Inn, Bisley, Gloucestershire (Title sequence; Sarah typing on a typewriter)
Production errors Edit
- When Sarah Jane and K9 go out to look for Brendan in Sarah's car, Sarah leaves her aunt's house when it is dark and arrives at the Church in the dark, but the intervening driving scene is in daylight.
- At the time of her first meeting with the Doctor, then in his third incarnation, Sarah Jane was impersonating her aunt Lavinia to gain access to a top secret UNIT scientific research facility. (TV: The Time Warrior)
- Lavinia tells Juno Baker that Sarah Jane is "never in one place long enough to lick a stamp." Sarah Jane would describe her aunt with the same phrase to her son Luke Smith in 2009. (TV: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith)
- K9 is referred to as "Mark III" in this story because he is actually the third robot dog of the same configuration owned by the Fourth Doctor. The first K9 chose to stay with Leela on Gallifrey (TV: The Invasion of Time) whereas K9 Mark II was forced to stay with Romana in E-Space due to being damaged by time winds (TV: Warriors' Gate).
- K9 joined the Doctor after Sarah had left so she had not met any version of the robot dog prior to this. (TV: The Invisible Enemy)
- Sarah once more has a problem driving due to tractors. (TV: Planet of the Spiders)
- Upon discovering K9, Sarah Jane says "Doctor, you didn't forget." Among the last words that she said to him before leaving the TARDIS were "Don't forget me." (TV: The Hand of Fear)
- In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Brendan studied at the University of Cambridge. (PROSE: Housewarming) His computer skills eventually led to him getting a job in Silicon Valley, near San Francisco. He was unable to attend Lavinia's funeral as a result of his work in California. (AUDIO: Comeback)
Home video releases Edit
- A Girl's Best Friend was released on BBC Video on 7 August 1995.
- It was released along with TV: The Invisible Enemy (in which K9 was introduced) on DVD as part of the K9 Tales box set on 16 June 2008.
See also Edit
- TV: Invasion of the Bane, the pilot episode of the second spin-off series featuring Sarah Jane Smith in the lead role, namely The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- A Girl's Best Friend at the BBC's official site
- Detailed synopsis of A Girl's Best Friend at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- A Girl's Best Friend at The Locations Guide
- A Girl's Best Friend at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)