The Mad Woman in the Attic was the second serial of series 3 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It was written by Joseph Lidster, directed by Alice Troughton and featured Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Tommy Knight as Luke Smith, Daniel Anthony as Clyde Langer, Anjli Mohindra as Rani Chandra, Alexander Armstrong as Mr Smith and John Leeson as K9.
It marked the resolution of a subplot: the closing of the artificial black hole in Switzerland, first seen in Invasion of the Bane, which K9 had been guarding for over a year. With his mission completed, K9 returned home and his role in future episodes increased. More so, Sarah Jane Smith received a premonition that the Doctor's TARDIS would soon appear in her attic, which transpired in the next serial. Luke Smith also learned that he would soon attend a graduation ceremony, a glimpse of the future that would come to precedence at the start of Series 4.
Considering the ending of this story, The Mad Woman in the Attic episode can also serve as an epilogue for The Sarah Jane Adventures as a whole, although it isn't clear if this shows a definitive future for the Bannerman gang. If it is to be believed, however, it implies Clyde Langer and Rani Chandra would one day get married, have children, and go on to live successful lives. They would also inherit Sarah's residence at 13 Bannerman Road after she retired from protecting the Earth and investigating alien activity.
In the year 2059, a boy called Adam walks inside the dark, mysterious 13 Bannerman Road. It is no longer occupied by Sarah Jane Smith, but by a self-described "mad old woman," Rani Chandra. Mr Smith has long since broken down and the whole house seems to be deteriorating. Rani herself is unkempt and unwell. She lingers over old photographs and drawings as she tells Adam how she came to be in this sorry state...
In 2009, Rani is intrigued by reports of strange lights. She goes to Sarah to discuss them. Sarah, Luke and Clyde are laughing about Maria Jackson, who is now hiding aliens from the American government. Sarah says the strange lights were just lightning; Mr Smith has already checked up on them. Hurt by Sarah's dismissive attitude, Rani returns home to sulk and finds an e-mail from Sam Lloyd, her best friend before she moved to Ealing. Sam is an orphan who lost contact with Rani, even though she confided in him about her adventures with Sarah.
Rani visits Sam, who tells her that there is a "demon" in a closed funfair and people have disappeared. Rani goes in to investigate, but Sam returns to the orphanage. Rani finds the caretaker, Harry, and pretends she has a twisted ankle to get into his office. There, she hears a voice say, "Playtime has begun". She witnesses the people who disappeared walk from the haunted house and begin playing on the rides; all of their eyes have turned red and they smile fixedly. The rides seem to operate themselves. While Rani observes the people on the rides, Harry is contacted by a red face in his mirror. The voice says, "Playtime is over", and the people return to the haunted house.
Rani makes her way into the haunted house and discovers a red-skinned alien called Eve. Eve is a child and the two talk. Meanwhile, Sarah tries to call Rani, who mutters to herself that she wishes they'd just leave her alone. Eve says her race can allow people to see their pasts and futures, as well as manipulate timelines. They were killed off in a conflict between two other races. Eve's parents placed her in a ship that crashed on Earth. Harry found her and has raised her ever since, hidden in the fair.
Eve says the people she has possessed are her friends. She is not allowed outdoors because of her inhuman appearance. Eve asks Rani if she wants to see her future. Rani sees herself old and insane. She denies violently that such a thing could happen to her and decides to help Eve escape.
Clyde investigates Rani's disappearance and finds Sam's e-mail. Sarah, Luke and Clyde go to the orphanage, where Sam tells them where Rani is. Sarah and Clyde leave to find Rani, while Luke stays behind with Sam. Sam tells Luke that Eve saw Rani in his mind and wanted to meet her. The red face appears in a mirror.
Sarah and Clyde find Harry. They also see the face in the mirror. The face scans Sarah's mind and shows her past and a glimpse of her future: the Doctor's TARDIS in her attic. Sam captures Luke and the face does the same for him, showing him as a university graduate. Sarah runs outside and Clyde follows. The face exclaims they need "the darkness"; it is their future.
Sarah and Clyde go to find Eve, who is escaping with Rani. Though they argue, Rani insists on taking Eve outside. Meanwhile, back at the orphanage, Luke brings a couple of mugs into Sam's room, but discovers Sam is gone. He goes to the computer and sees a note that says that it wasn't Eve that wanted Rani.
Eve is thrilled to see the outside world, but soon her ability to manipulate people and rides goes out of control; she sends her "friends" out for "playtime" and the rides spin wildly. When Rani gets angry at her and storms off, Eve possesses her too, causing her eyes to turn red. Sam arrives at the funfair. Eve says Rani was scared of the future and growing old, but now she will be young forever. Eve doubles over in pain, energy flashing between the rides and her body. Sarah tells her she has to let the people go, but Eve tells her she doesn't know how.
Sarah and Clyde go back inside to consult the face in the mirror. The face identifies itself as Ship, the computer system that drives Eve's ship, programmed to protect Eve until she is fully grown. Ship says Eve is slowly dying. She is too young to control her powers and must be brought back to Ship for treatment.
Harry makes the homeless people and Rani sit while Sarah, Sam and Clyde go to the beach to locate Ship and get Eve on board. Ship absorbs Eve's excess energy, saving her life and returning Rani and the others to themselves. Rani and Harry run to the beach and also board Ship. Eve invites Sam and Harry to travel the stars with her. Ship reveals that the darkness it seeks is a black hole as it is the only thing that can provide it power. Sarah, realising that the black hole K9 is containing would be perfect, quickly has Mr Smith patch her through. She arranges for K9 to transport the black hole into Ship's engines, which allows him to come home for good. As soon as K9 teleports back home, Mr. Smith enquires if he will be staying permanently. "Affirmative," K9 replies. "Oh, good," Mr. Smith exclaims in a resigned tone.
As Rani and her friends prepare to leave, Ship stops her and offers to grant Rani a wish. As she had said she wished Clyde, Luke and Sarah would leave her alone, Ship erases them from existence. Rani, Eve and Sam try to convine Ship that wasn't what was meant, but Ship doesn't listen and leaves, taking Eve, Sam and Harry.
In 2059, Rani has finished her tale. Adam tells her he's not from across the road; his mum sent him. Rani is confused. Adam's eyes glow red. He is the son of Eve and Sam. He explains that Ship was damaged and she got it wrong. He has come here to grant her a wish. She wishes Ship never took her friends away and Adam corrects it.
The scene on the ship repeats, but this time, Ship keeps quiet and doesn't erase anyone. Ship takes off happily with Eve, Sam and Harry, onwards to more adventure. Sarah Jane, Rani and Clyde are joined by Luke and find K9 at Sarah's house when they return. Sarah Jane takes a photo of Rani, Luke, Clyde and K9.
In 2059, Rani is now living a very different life. She still lives in Bannerman Road, but is healthy and sane. The house is clean and well-lit. Her three grandchildren rush into the attic to hug her, followed by their father, Shuresh, who asks her how her trip to Washington DC was. She says it was great and she and Luke got to catch up with Maria. The photo of Rani with Luke, Clyde and K9 is on a shelf.
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Luke Smith - Tommy Knight
- Clyde Langer - Daniel Anthony
- Rani Chandra - Anjli Mohindra
- Voice of Mr Smith - Alexander Armstrong
- Voice of K9 - John Leeson
- Eve - Eleanor Tomlinson
- Older Rani - Souad Faress
- Harry Sowersby - Brian Miller
- Adam Lloyd - Gregg Sulkin
- Samuel Lloyd - Toby Parkes
- Shuresh - Jai Rajani
- Ship - Kate Fleetwood
- Third Doctor - Jon Pertwee (uncredited, stock footage)
- Fourth Doctor - Tom Baker (uncredited, stock footage)
- Tenth Doctor - David Tennant (uncredited, stock footage)
Created by Russell T Davies
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner and Piers Wenger|
|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.|
K9's creator credit was in Part 2 only.
- Sarah references the Terrible Zodin while talking to Luke and Clyde.
- Eve refers to her race being targeted by both sides in a war and many being "exterminated" because of their ability to read the "timelines".
- "Older Rani" talks about the time before people became truly aware of aliens. Cybermen and Daleks are mentioned.
- Images of the Bane, Slitheen, the Trickster, Captain Tybo and Kaagh are seen when Eve views Rani's thoughts.
- The Zodin are a species of alien which look like Fimbles.
- Although they are not mentioned Eve tells young Rani the reason she is on Earth is because there was a war between two races and because her people could see the timelines so many of them were Exterminated meaning she was talking about the time war and hinted the Daleks killed her people.
- Many references are made to Maria Jackson, and Rani's fears of being compared to her. This is also touched upon by Mrs Wormwood in TV: Enemy of the Bane.
- The Doctor is seen, and mentioned by Ship.
- Mrs Chang works in the Saint Anthony's children's home.
- The Danemouth Pleasure Park and the Saint Anthony's children's home are located in Danemouth.
- Newspapers report strange lights at the BT Tower.
- In the fun park, there are pictures of many characters from different cartoon shows, as well as logos. Some of them are Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Scooby Doo, Spike the Bulldog, Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, and the Warner Bros logo.
- Eve and her son's name are a Biblical reference to the first humans, Adam and Eve.
- Rani mentions to Sam that he ignored her on Facebook.
- Rani has a poster of Zac Efron on her bedroom wall. Eve mentions him when she is reading Rani's mind. She describes him as "fit."
- The fun park is closed due to the economic recession of the late 2000s.
- Luke and Samuel discuss about Frankenstein and his monster.
- Several clips from the classic era are shown when Sarah Jane's mind is read, including The Five Doctors, The Hand of Fear and The Time Warrior, as well as footage of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. This marks the first time footage from the classic series had appeared on one of the spin-off series, though the first overall "revival era" story to use such clips was The Next Doctor.
- This is the only episode of the series to not have an actual villain per se, as neither Eve nor Ship are depicted as having ill-intent, despite their actions.
- This episode foreshadows Luke leaving for university in the premier story of the next series, and the events of the next story, The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.
- Due to Elisabeth Sladen's untimely death in 2011, the Sarah Jane Adventures would not have a fully-realised conclusion that gave absolute closure to the series. However, this episode provided a glimpse of Rani Chandra's future in a timeline that could be considered the true ending of the series. The question of whether or not she got together with Clyde Langer is also hinted to be true, considering the mixed ethnicity of her children.
- Sarah's reference to the Terrible Zodin is a continuation of a running joke — Zodin is referenced on screen but never seen — dating back to The Five Doctors. Although various Doctors and companions have claimed to have encountered her, this is the first time Sarah had made such a claim.
- Part 1 — 0.75 million
- Part 2 — 0.84 million
- Luke first says Maria is "helping the government hide aliens" — when this scene is replayed by Eve, he says Maria is "helping aliens hide from the government". (The latter is probably the right version of the line.)
- When Mr Smith telephones K9, a screen graphic overlay extends beyond the borders of his computer screen frame.
- K9 rejoins Sarah Jane and the team. (TV: From Raxacoricofallapatorius with Love)
- Some time after this adventure, Rani is shown to have full knowledge of the alternative timeline surrounding her future self and its correction by Adam Lloyd. (TV: Sarah Jane's Alien Files episode 2) Whether Rani directly remembers the events herself or learned of them later by other means is not known.
- Mr. Smith has a mirror on him in Rani's parallel world. He previously had a mirror in another parallel world as well.(TV: Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?)
- Harry 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)
- Eve refers to the Judoon. (TV: Prisoner of the Judoon)
- The Ship shows Sarah the toy clown in her bedroom which terrified her during a thunder storm as a little girl (TV: The Day of the Clown), her first meeting with Maria Jackson as a 13-year-old girl on 13 July 1964 (TV: Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?), her first meeting with the Doctor during his third incarnation in the 1970s (TV: The Time Warrior), attacking the Third Doctor while under the control of the Eight Legs (TV: Planet of the Spiders), asking the Fourth Doctor not to forget her as she left the TARDIS (TV: The Hand of Fear), speaking to K9 Mark III outside of her home in London shortly before Borusa used the time scoop to send her to the Death Zone on Gallifrey (TV: The Five Doctors), being stopped by two Daleks in a London street during their invasion of Earth in 2009 (TV: The Stolen Earth), meeting her parents Eddie and Barbara Smith in Foxgrove on 18 August 1951 (TV: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith) and the TARDIS dematerialising from her attic at 13 Bannerman Road in the near future (TV: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith). Furthermore, it shows Luke his escape from the Bubble Shock! factory and being given his name by Sarah Jane in 2008 (TV: Invasion of the Bane), Maria telling him how much she was going to miss him when she moved to Washington DC in 2009 (TV: The Last Sontaran) and his future graduation from the University of Oxford (TV: The Nightmare Man).
- Mr Smith shows quick disdain when Sarah contacts him to call K9, and when K9 confirms he will be remaining at her house from now on. It is the humble beginning of a competitive relationship between the supercomputer and robot dog that will later erupt into a feud. (TV: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith)
- The Mad Woman in the Attic at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Mad Woman in the Attic at The Locations Guide