The Day of the Clown was the second serial of series 2 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It was written by Phil Ford, directed by Michael Kerrigan and featured Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Tommy Knight as Luke Smith, Daniel Anthony as Clyde Langer and Alexander Armstrong as Mr Smith and introduced Anjli Mohindra as Rani Chandra.
It introduced Rani, Gita and Haresh Chandra as the new occupants of the Jacksons' home on Bannerman Road. It established that Sarah had been afraid of clowns since childhood and thereby centred the story on the nature of fear itself.
The story also contained some important character beats that were carried on throughout the series.
Hanging over Rani's introduction was the fact that Luke keenly missed Maria, and that Rani knew that she was a kind of "replacement" for Jackson. Additionally, the hostility between Haresh Chandra and Clyde Langer began here, as did the notion that Rani was a budding journalist who needed professional mentoring by Sarah. All of these themes would continue for the rest of the series, and were even prominent as late as the final story.
Behind the scenes, this story was notable for being one of only two episodes to credit both Paige and Mohindra, because Maria's voice is heard in part one. This was also a rare example of an episode that credits Paige but not Joseph Millson; Maria's father, almost ubiquitous in Maria episodes, didn't appear here.
Rani Chandra is the new girl on Bannerman Road. She is haunted by a sinister clown. Does it have anything to do with local children who have gone missing? When Clyde's friend Dave disappears, the trail leads to a strange circus museum and the legend of the Pied Piper.
A group of boys are playing football when the ball goes out of the pitch. A child goes over to fetch the ball but sees a clown, who is, in fact Elijah Spellman. A few seconds later, the child is scared by the clown and disappears, never to be seen again.
A new family is moving into number 36 Bannerman Road, formerly occupied by Alan and Maria Jackson. Luke Smith still misses Maria, even though she's keeping in touch by e-mail. His mum Sarah sympathises and reminds him Maria will visit England soon. She'll be at her mother's wedding. Yet, as Luke notes, it's not the same.
There's a new girl at Park Vale School, the boys' comprehensive: clever and inquisitive Rani, who wants to be a journalist. Clyde is smitten — even forgetting his odd sightings of clowns, always just out of the corner of his eye — until he notices there's also a new head at the school: humourless Mr Chandra. He is determined to improve the students' scores and put an end to the recent rash of child disappearances. He is not impressed by Clyde, the class clown. Clyde doesn't make it to lunch before receiving a summons to the new head's office.
While he is waiting by Mr Chandra's office, Clyde has another clown sighting. He tries to laugh it off, but he is shaken when his friend Dave ducks into a small art closet for supplies and doesn't come out. The art closet is empty; Dave has vanished into thin air.
Sarah brings the new family tea and biscuits as a welcoming gift, but when Gita Chandra's back is turned, she performs a scan to check that no alien "residue" remains from the Jacksons' previous inhabitancy, because of Clyde's earlier remark. Only Gita Chandra is there — her husband and daughter are at school, she explains — so the two women share tea. Gita describes her family. She is thrilled to learn that Sarah is an investigative journalist. Her daughter Rani wants to become one herself.
Clyde and Luke are walking home from school when Clyde sees another clown. Though Luke doesn't see anything, the boys give chase. They encounter only Rani, who has also been seeing clowns. Rani wonders if there is an extraordinary or supernatural explanation of the disappearances. The three are deep in discussion when they reach Bannerman Road and find Rani's dad is Mr Chandra. He is not pleased to see his daughter with Clyde, whom he has pegged as a troublemaker. On the other hand, he is delighted she has made friends with Luke, one of Park Vale's most gifted students.
Luke helps Rani unpack. In her room, they continue their talk of the missing children. The mention of clowns jogs Rani's memory: she remembers taking a ticket to see a circus museum. Rani decides to investigate. Luke feels he has no choice but to follow.
Clyde and Sarah have independently discovered the same thing. All the missing children received tickets to the same circus museum, and only children with tickets were seeing the clowns. They elect to visit the clown museum as well.
Spellman's Magical Museum of the Circus is run by the strange Elijah Spellman. He shows them around and leads them to a room filled with clown mannequins. Clyde spots a picture on the wall: an old watercolour painting of a man wearing red, blue and yellow — just like the mysterious ghost clowns he'd been seeing. Sarah Jane explains that the figure depicted is the Pied Piper, a legendary figure of European folklore who stole the children from Hamelin.
Elijah Spellman agrees. He reveals that he is the Pied Piper and the mysterious clown. He has come for more children. Nor will he tolerate discovery — with a word, he vanishes, and the clown mannequins come to life and threaten Sarah and Clyde.
They run to the entrance, where they meet Luke and Rani and find that while Sarah's sonic lipstick is effective against the clown mannequins, the Pied Piper has trapped them in the building...
Spellman frightens Sarah Jane Smith with insights on her childhood whilst Clyde, Luke and Rani try to escape from the museum. Luke and Clyde get outside whilst Sarah remains terrified inside the circus. Rani's phone rings and she is confronted by a dilemma as Mum appears on the screen. While the phone rings, Spellman freezes. After a few seconds, Rani declines the call and runs out of the circus. Sarah Jane follows and the gang get inside Sarah's car to drive back to Bannerman Road.
Once there, Sarah gives Rani a choice: live across the road and not interfere with her life, or go with Sarah and a whole world of adventure. Rani chooses to join Sarah and says she will explain to her mum that she is completing some work experience with her.
Sarah, Rani, Luke and Clyde go into Sarah's house. Rani is amazed at the alien gear in Sarah's attic, particularly alien supercomputer Mr Smith. The new team quickly determines the history of the Pied Piper is traceable to a meteorite that fell to Earth in 1283. The extrasolar meteorite originated in the Jeggorabax Cluster, a region of space known to house entities that feed off of emotions. To confirm this, Mr Smith will need a sample of the meteorite. Fortunately, it is on loan from the University of Munich to the Pharos Institute.
Luke confronts Sarah about her fear of clowns. Why should his mum, who has seen some of the strangest things in the universe, be frightened of clowns? Sarah explains that she was frightened of a clown marionette owned by her Aunt Lavinia when she was a child. It was one of the few times she missed having parents she could call on for comfort.
Sarah visits the Pharos Institute and borrows a piece of meteorite to give to Mr Smith. Whilst she is there, Spellman appears and tells Sarah that families will perish at the deaths of a nation of children.
Meanwhile, at Park Vale School, a host of red balloons fall from the sky. As the children grab them, they seem to lose free will, and mindlessly walk out of school towards Spellman's museum. Sarah remembers when Rani's phone rang earlier, Spellman froze. She gets Mr Smith to ring all the children's mobile numbers, breaking the spell, but Spellman kidnaps Luke and imprisons him in the hall of mirrors. Currently, he is sleeping with the other missing children whom Odd Bob has caught and after a while, "they just fade away".
Sarah demands the children be brought back, but Spellman correctly deduces she is still afraid of him and says he has been responsible for her lifelong fear of clowns. Spellman and she face off, unaware that Rani and Clyde have entered the building.
Clyde faces Spellman unafraid. He begins to tell jokes. The humour loosens the grip that fear has on Sarah, which in turn weakens Spellman, who feeds on fear. Spellman weakens and Sarah forces him back into the fragment of the meteorite, which she puts into an alien box which nothing can escape from.
Rani is a little shaken by her odd experiences, but vows to help Sarah, Luke and Clyde in their adventures.
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Maria Jackson - Yasmin Paige (Voice)
- Luke Smith - Tommy Knight
- Clyde Langer - Daniel Anthony
- Rani Chandra - Anjli Mohindra
- Voice of Mr Smith - Alexander Armstrong
- Gita Chandra - Mina Anwar
- Haresh Chandra - Ace Bhatti
- The Pied Piper / Elijah Spellman / Odd Bob the Clown - Bradley Walsh
- Dave Finn - Jem Brownlee
- Tony Warner - Aaron Shosanya
- Mr Cunningham - Huw Higginson
- Steve Wallace - Elijah Baker
- Professor Rivers - Floella Benjamin
- Young Sarah Jane - Jessica Mogridge
- Clowns - Alan Ruscoe and Sean Palmer
Created by Russell T Davies
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|Series Producer Matthew Bouch|
|General production staff|
Camera and lighting department
|Make-up and prosthetics
General post-production staff
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.|
- Mr Chandra is attracted to a woman named Dawn French.
- Sarah Jane Smith views a photograph of Clara the Clown.
- Albert G Wicks is a senator in Springfield.
- Keith Hartridge is the chief constable of the Ealing police.
- Barbara Knorr asks for help in a newspaper after her daughter Elizabeth Knorr vanished.
- Francis Lincoln and Thomas C. Kent are journalists.
- Edwin Cleaver is a major in Littlewood
- Kevin and Marie Warner are the parents of Tony Warner
- Jeremy Larsson and Tricia Chan are kidnapped by the Pied Piper in 2009. Louis Arbourne, Melissa Deaver are kidnapped in the 1930s or 1940s.
- Miss Webster organises the National Schools Science Challenge.
Cultural references from the real world
- Steve Wallace refers to the Pied Piper (while in his Odd Bob the Clown guise) as "Krusty", alluding to the recurring clown character from The Simpsons.
- When Sarah confronts Spellman as he summons the students of Park Vale School and he discredits her power to stop him, she says, "Perhaps I should phone a friend?", a joke regarding the "Phone-A-Friend" lifeline on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
- Gita mentions Captain Bligh.
- Luke read about Johnny Depp's coulrophobia in Heat.
- Clyde makes a joke about Dracula.
Foods and beverages
- The Weserbergland meteorite falls to Earth in the Weserbergland Mountains of Lower Saxony. Hamelin is located near the mountains.
- Spellman's Magical Museum of the Circus is a museum dedicated to the history of the circus.
- From 1932 and 1940 Odd Bob kidnapped children from the Millhouse community in Pennsylvania, and Littlewood, Nebraska.
- The Jeggorabax Cluster is a dark nebula located near the Bezeta-Vordak system.
- The Weserbergland meteorite was preserved at the University of Munich.
- The circus museum tickets are marked with an alien enzyme.
- Sarah gives a Vorgatt defence field emitter to Rani.
- Sarah has a puzzle box made from Halkonite steel and a Cylethian distress beacon from a Cylethian scoutship inside her attic.
- The Park Vale Comprehensive School football team have been knocked out by West Hill after a 4-0 mauling at the Inter-School Challenge Cup.
- Luke claims they have saved the world twelve times. It's unclear if he's approximating or being literal. Even if one were to throw in AUDIO: The Thirteenth Stone and The Glittering Storm — and even TV: Journey's End — that only amounts to ten world-saving operations since Luke met Sarah. So either Luke is approximating, or there are a couple of missing adventures.
- Part 1 - 514,000 viewers
- Part 2 - 443,000 viewers
to be added
- Script editor Gary Russell appears to drop the ball here, allowing Clyde Langer to claim that the house over the road from 13 Bannerman Road is 36 Bannerman Road. Not only is that illogical according to typical English numbering, but it contradicts the Invasion of the Bane-established fact that the Jacksons live at 12 Bannerman Road.
- One of the clowns shown on Sarah's laptop is Clara the Clown from TV: The Celestial Toymaker.
- Sometime during the events of this episode, Rani Chandra gets trapped in the dark hall of mirrors of Spellman's Museum of the Circus. She went there to investigate the disappearance of kids, but with the help of several light sources like the sonic lipstick and a torch she gets out. (WC: Light)
- The First Doctor, John and Gillian encountered the Pied Piper in COMIC: Challenge of the Piper. They were present for the story told about him near the end of part one, and uncovered him as a practitioner of science, rather than of hypnotic flute playing.
- The Nestene Consciousness also used animated mannequins as attack drones. (TV: Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons, Rose)
- On Sarah's staircase there are on the way several framed newspaper cuttings, appearing to have been written by Sarah. One of them is about events at Deffry Vale High School, regarding the "explosive results" involving it being blown up. (TV: School Reunion)
- Mr Chandra refers to the "mysteriously vanished" Greg Blakeman, the previous head teacher, who was actually killed by the Slitheen and used as a skin suit by their leader. (TV: Revenge of the Slitheen)
- Clyde refers to the Uvodni of Kudlak, who were also involved with kidnapping children. (TV: Warriors of Kudlak)
- Professor Rivers reappears, along with the Pharos Institute, thanking Sarah for helping them with the incident involving Nathan Goss, who was actually Korst Gogg Thek Lutiven-Day Slitheen in disguise. (TV: The Lost Boy)
- Another entity dressed as a clown had abducted people in Nebraska shortly after the Civil War, and was defeated by the Ninth Doctor. (PROSE: The Patchwork Pierrot)
Home video releases
- The Day of the Clown at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Day of the Clown at The Locations Guide