The Curse of Clyde Langer was the second story of the fifth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, as well as the 2012 winner of the Writer's Guild of Great Britain's Best Children's TV Script Award.
It was notable for its frank depiction of a modern-day social ill — homelessness — and its atypical ambiguous conclusion, in contrast to the usual SJA "happy ending".
True to the title of the story, events that transpired focused heavily on Clyde Langer. This would also mark the unintended final appearance of Haresh Chandra and Carla Langer, due to the sudden death of Elisabeth Sladen.
Part one Edit
It's raining fish from the skies! Sarah's investigations lead the gang to the Museum of Culture, where the ancient god Hetocumtek may offer answers. Yet when Clyde touches the totem pole, his family and friends savagely turn against him and he is thrown out of their lives!
Part two Edit
Clyde is alone and abandoned on the streets of London, living rough, cold and hungry. One person reaches out to him, but as they become friends, he's warned about the legendary Night Dragon. In Bannerman Road, Sky knows something's wrong – why do Sarah Jane and Rani suddenly hate Clyde?
Part one Edit
Clyde shows Rani The Silver Bullet, a superhero comic strip he has written and illustrated. Rani is impressed with her friend's latest project, but isn't quite as taken with his idea for another tale, starring an adventurer named “Susie June Jones”. Meanwhile, Rani's father, headmaster Haresh Chandra, meets with Sarah and her newly-adopted daughter to discuss Sky's enrolment at the school. When their conversation is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a fish on the office's window-ledge, Haresh suspects a student prank. However, when he, Sarah and Sky go outside, they find that it is raining fish.
Leaving Haresh and his pupils gaping at the bizarre, fish-covered school and playground, Sarah, Sky, Clyde and Rani race back to the attic of No. 13 Bannerman Road, where Mr Smith is busy monitoring reports of the unusual storm. Sarah explains that accounts of such phenomenon have been attributed to tornadoes sucking up fish and depositing them elsewhere. Just to make sure, she asks Mr Smith to carry out a scan for any alien energies that could be to blame. The Xylok computer does not detect anything suspicious. He informs Sarah of a possible link to a new exhibit at the Museum of Culture, where a Mojave Native American totem pole is on display. Legend has it that when this artefact was removed from the cave where it was hidden, a storm of fish fell from the skies.
The gang arrive at the museum; as they race inside, Clyde gives some change to a homeless girl begging on the street. Making their way to the Native American display, the gang easily find the totem pole: a tall, wooden post carved with creepy-looking faces. Clyde plays the joker and tickles one of the faces, only to get a nasty splinter in his finger; while he tries to remove it, Sarah, Sky and Rani meet Doctor Samantha Madigan from the anthropology department. She knows of the totem's legendary powers, but doesn't attribute the recent storm to Hetocumtek, the vicious warrior supposedly imprisoned inside the artefact by Native American medicine men. As Sarah conducts a fruitless scan of the totem pole, Clyde removes the splinter.
With no alien threat apparent, the friends leave. Clyde returns home. After dinner with his mum, he goes to his room to work on his comic book. After completing the final panel of The Silver Bullet, Clyde signs his name and goes to bed. He notices his finger is still hurting. As Clyde falls asleep, he fails to see his name mysteriously glow on his pictures and school certificate.
The following morning, Clyde visits Sarah to show her his completed comic book. She is full of praise — until Clyde says his name. Her attitude changes in a second. She is furious at Clyde for his teasing of Luke and promptly throws him out of her house. Astonished, Clyde crosses the road to tell Rani what happened — but then Haresh says Clyde's name. His daughter and he become enraged. Rani spitefully tells Clyde she hates him and Haresh expels the bewildered boy from school.
Upset and confused to hear such venom from people he considers his friends, Clyde quickly walks away. Back at No. 13, Sarah tears up all the pictures drawn by Clyde that she can find. Mr Smith voices his concern at her inexplicable anger. She calms down as Sky enters the attic. With Sky about to attend her first day at school, Sarah decides to return to the museum to write an article on the totem and the fish storm. Sky mentions Clyde — and Sarah's attitude changes once more. She furiously bans her daughter from ever mentioning Clyde again. Sky is unaffected. She and Mr Smith are confused at Sarah's sudden hatred of Clyde. They ask her what he did that has upset her so much, but she will not discuss the subject and orders Mr Smith to alert her if he sets foot on Bannerman Road again.
Meanwhile, in the park, Clyde phones Luke, only to find his best friend won't talk to him either. Clyde meets his mate Steve, who asks him to join in a game of football; Clyde tactfully refuses — then Steve says his friend's name and he too is overwhelmed with hatred. Clyde realises that people saying his name is what turns them against him. After stomping Clyde's phone into bits, Steve and his mates prepare to do the same to their former friend, but Clyde runs for it instead.
Racing out of the park with an angry mob close behind, Clyde evades his pursuers by hiding behind some bins. Once his ex-mates have run past, he notices his finger is still bleeding and makes the connection to the totem. Returning to the museum to look at the artefact, Clyde bumps into Doctor Madigan. He asks her about Native American curses. Before he can learn anything useful, Sarah turns up and causes a scene. Doctor Madigan tries to calm her, but she says Clyde's name and instantly turns against him. She refuses to give him any information, making Clyde realise that his name affects anyone, not just people he knows. She has him frog-marched out of the exhibition hall by security guards, while Sarah phones the police to make a harassment charge.
Clyde picks himself up from the pavement and sees the homeless girl watching. He returns home, only to discover his mum affected by the curse after reading his name on mail. Accusing Clyde of lying to her, Carla demands he leave the house never to return. Clyde tries to reason with her, but when she opens the door to let in the police, he is forced to make a hasty exit out the back door.
On the run, Clyde tries to get some money from a cash machine, only to watch as the screen fills up with his name, over and over again. Night soon falls and a thunderstorm begins. Soaked, with no home, no family and no friends, Clyde tries to find shelter in a doorway. He begins to cry in despair at his situation. All seems lost, but then Clyde finally gets a break. The homeless girl appears before him and offers to help.
Part two Edit
Clyde awakes to find himself lying on a makeshift bed beneath a bridge, in a "cardboard city" occupied by the homeless girl, who introduces herself as Ellie Faber, and other homeless people. When Ellie asks her new friend his name, Clyde knows that he will lose her if she were to speak his real name. Taking inspiration from a discarded pizza box, he calls himself “Enrico Box”. Ellie says she has been living rough for two years, after her father died and her mother remarried. She tells Clyde there are perils threatening the homeless; something called “the Night Dragon” causes people to disappear for no reason.
Sky is puzzled to find Sarah in the attic busily throwing away all of Clyde's things. She asks what Clyde has done wrong. Her mother refuses to answer. Later, eating lunch at school, Sky tries asking Rani about Clyde, but her friend just gets angry and storms off. At the museum, lightning crackles around the Hetocumtek totem pole. Called in by Doctor Madigan to help, Sarah scans the artefact and finds it alive with alien energy — and the totem's eyes start to glow. Bustling Doctor Madigan from the room, Sarah urges her to close the exhibition.
Ellie and Clyde go out on the street to beg for money. They aren't very successful, so Ellie decides to get something to eat. Back in the attic, Mr Smith notices Sarah crying, even though she doesn't know why. Ignoring the subject, she reports that the ancient totem is no longer dormant — something has caused it to come alive.
Ellie takes Clyde to a "soup kitchen". She introduces him to an old lady nicknamed Mystic Mags. Staring at the tea-leaves in her mug, the elderly lady warns that something bad is coming, something worse than the Night Dragon — and it has put a curse on Clyde. Worried he will get Ellie into trouble, Clyde runs off. Ellie goes after him, not wanting to lose her “lucky charm”. Back at Bannerman Road, Haresh is worried about his daughter. Rani is upset that she has lost something special, but she doesn't know what.
Sky pays a visit to Clyde's mother, who is crying for no discernible reason. When Sky tries asking about Clyde, the woman becomes extremely angry. Seeing Clyde's name glowing on an envelope addressed to him, Sky realises something has cursed her friend's name. Back at the museum, one of the totem pole's carved faces starts to move.
Sheltering from the rain in an old building, Clyde burns his Silver Bullet artwork to make a fire for himself and Ellie. He asks the girl about the recent "fish storm" — perhaps it was a sign of something bad coming? Ellie tells Clyde that she had lost hope of ever reclaiming her life, but since meeting him her faith has returned.
Back at the museum, more of the carved wooden faces are now coming to life. Hearing Sarah and Rani discussing the totem's increase in power, Sky recalls how Clyde got a splinter in his finger. Sarah and Rani angrily tell Sky not to mention Clyde, but she persists and calls on Mr Smith to explain her theory. Sarah and Rani get angrier whenever Clyde's name is mentioned. Mr Smith tells them this is proof of Sky's theory. The Xylok determines that the totem is using psychophonic programming to isolate Clyde so that Hetocumtek can use the boy's energy to come back to life. To break the curse, Sky encourages Sarah and Rani to say Clyde's name. Acting against their instincts, the duo repeat Clyde's name — and it works.
Now free of the curse, Sarah and Rani recall how much Clyde means to them. They resolve to get him back. Elsewhere, Clyde shows Ellie a sketch he has made of her. He hopes to make money as a street artist. Flattered, Ellie kisses him and goes to get them both a drink. Just then a familiar car pulls up, and Sarah, Rani and Sky rush out and envelope Clyde in a group hug. Clyde is overjoyed his friends are free of the curse, but when Sarah urges him to come and help beat Hetocumtek, he tells them he needs to wait for Ellie. Sarah is insistent, so Clyde reluctantly leaves, vowing to return for his friend as soon as he can.
Together they speed back to No. 13, where Mr Smith hacks into the transmat system of a passing alien spaceship and uses it to teleport the totem pole into the attic. The artefact is now bristling with energy, its faces contorting in anger at the gang's interference. It fights back by sending a ferocious gale around the room. Refusing to give in, Clyde steps forward and repeats his name again and again — and the totem vanishes.
With his nightmare finally over, Clyde goes home and receives a heart-felt welcome from his mum. Some time later, Clyde, Sarah and Rani go looking for Ellie. They can find no trace of the girl, not in the "cardboard city" under the bridge, nor at the mission; she has vanished.
Clyde is understandably worried, concerned Ellie thinks he abandoned her. However, after noticing a poster about a singer called "Ellie Faber", he realises that he doesn't even know his friend's real name — and then a truck drives past, with the name "Night Dragon Haulage" emblazoned on its side. Hearing Clyde's surprise, a nearby homeless person explains that the company's drivers often give lifts to people living rough on the streets. Clyde is upset to realise he's never going to see Ellie, again, and is comforted by his friends.
That night, Clyde lies in bed thinking of Ellie, hoping she has found a better life for herself. All he has left is the picture he drew of her...
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Clyde Langer - Daniel Anthony
- Rani Chandra - Anjli Mohindra
- Sky Smith - Sinead Michael
- Mr Smith - Alexander Armstrong
- Haresh Chandra - Ace Bhatti
- Carla Langer - Jocelyn Jee Esien
- Ellie - Lily Loveless
- Doctor Samantha Madigan - Sara Houghton
- Mystic Mags - Angela Pleasence
- Max - Ewart Jones
- Security Guard - Anwar Lynch
- Steve Wallace - Elijah Baker
Created by Russell T Davies
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Nikki Wilson|
|General production staff|
Camera and lighting department
|Make-up and prosthetics
Special and visual effects
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- Clyde thinks the Silver Bullet will be the next iconic comic book hero, bragging, "Move over, Batman", and "Look out, Stan Lee."
- One of Clyde's sketches in Sarah Jane's attic depicts Luke with Maria Jackson.
- Clyde has a drawing of the superhero Rocket Man on his wall.
- Polly is a homeless woman who was living on the streets of Ealing.
- Sarah Jane enrols Sky Smith in Park Vale School.
- Ellie compares a harsh thunderstorm to Transylvania.
- The Night Dragon Haulage regularly shipped goods to Glasgow, Dublin, Germany and France.
- Hetocumtek is buried by the Native Americans in the Nevada Desert.
- The Museum of Culture is a museum in Ealing.
- The Mojave Desert is a desert on the planet Earth. It is located in Death Valley.
- Blood River City is a fictional city in Clyde's comic book.
- Clyde lives at 2 Renfrow Street.
Organisations and institutions Edit
- An Ultraman bank can be seen on Clyde's shelf.
- Enrico's Pizza's is a pizza service in London.
- Clyde has an account of the London Credit Bank.
Newspapers, Books and Comics Edit
- Clyde wants to draw comics professionally after graduation. His newest project is The Silver Bullet.
- Sarah Jane is seen reading a copy of the Ealing Echo with the headline "FISH FLINGERS" the day after it rains fish.
- Clyde is "reading" a book about the French Revolution.
Foods and beverages Edit
- Clyde jokes that the rain of fish would cover school dinners for a week, but he's disappointed they didn't fall down from the sky battered with a side of chips.
- Carla Langer hates fish but loves chocolate.
- Clyde gives Ellie enough pocket change to buy a sandwich. He suggests she could get a bacon butty.
- Samantha Madigan mentions the Tippecanoe curse on the president of the United States of America.
- A "medicine man" managed to trick Hetocumtek into a totem pole, trapping him.
Story notes Edit
- This episode premièred Sky being included in Clyde's description of 13 Bannerman Road in the pre-titles sequence.
- Tommy Knight (Luke Smith) does not appear in this story, though Luke is mentioned during the scene where Clyde calls him on his mobile and when Sky visits Carla Langer.
- Clyde's stated goal of finding Ellie is one of several Series 5 plot threads that might have been revisited had the series not ended.
- Discounting the usual opening prologue, part one begins with Clyde appearing to break the fourth wall, though we later learn he's addressing Ellie, not the audience.
- This story marks the final appearances of both Haresh Chandra and Carla Langer on the series.
- Clyde's comic The Silver Bullet was published as a readable comic on the BBC website.
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Filming locations Edit
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Production errors Edit
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- When Rani raises the possibility that Hetocumtek may have been an alien, Sarah Jane states that it would not be the first time that an alien has posed as a god. (TV: Pyramids of Mars)
- According to Sarah, Sky has been with her for "barely a month" since they met. (TV: Sky)
- Clyde's drawing that was put in the museum (TV: Mona Lisa's Revenge) is on his bedroom wall, and above his bed is a painting of his character Booster Man. (TV: The Mark of the Berserker)
- Rani refers to the economic crash of 2008. Unbeknownst to the general public, the ensuing recession was caused by a British teenager named Theo Lawson hacking into several multinational banks and acquiring enough money for the rest of his life. (AUDIO: Situation Vacant)
- Steven's Point previously appeared in TV: The End of Time.
Home video releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
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Blu-ray releases Edit
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- The Curse of Clyde Langer at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Curse of Clyde Langer at The Locations Guide