Death of the Doctor

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21 – Death of the Doctor
The Sarah Jane Adventures story
Writer Russell T Davies
Director Ashley Way
Script editor Gary Russell
Producer Brian Minchin
Phil Ford (co-producer)
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Nikki Wilson[1]
Production code 4.5 and 4.6
Series Series 4
Length 2 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 25 & 26 October 2010
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Vault of Secrets The Empty Planet

Death of the Doctor is a two-part story of The Sarah Jane Adventures which was broadcast on CBBC on 25 and 26 October 2010.[2] It is the third story of the fourth series. This episode features the return of Katy Manning to the role of Jo Grant and a guest appearance by Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. Exposition at the end of the episode provides updates on the lives of numerous companions from the "classic era" who had gone unaddressed in the revived era. This story was the last to feature Sarah Jane Smith and the Doctor together onscreen.


Part 1[edit]

UNIT forces, led by Colonel Karim, converge on Sarah Jane's home, and inform her, Rani, and Clyde that the Doctor is dead. Karim explains that members of the vulture-like race, the Shansheeth, found the Doctor's body and have brought it to Earth for a proper ceremony, to be held at the secured UNIT Base 5 underneath Snowdon. Sarah Jane is skeptical, knowing of the Doctor's ability to regenerate, but agrees to go along with Rani and Clyde.

At UNIT Base 5, the three are initially surprised to see what appear to be Graske aliens, a species they had difficulties with before, but learn that they are really Groske, a cousin species to the Graske and working peacefully to maintain the base. Karim explains that after the ceremony they plan to launch the Doctor's body into space using a rocket built by the Groske. As they tour the now-sealed facility, Clyde feels energy coursing through his hand, recognising it as the same artron energy he felt when he accidentally touched the dematerialising TARDIS during the events of The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith. The group later meets another of the Doctor's former companions, Jo Grant, now married and going by Jo Jones, along with her grandson Santiago. Sarah Jane and Jo discuss the possibility of the Doctor's death, and agree that this may be a trap set up by one of the Doctor's enemies, while Rani and Clyde make quick friends with Santiago.

Rani, Clyde, and Santiago are met by the lead Groske, who tells them there is an increase in artron energy in the area and leads them through an air vent to where the Shansheeth have stored the Doctor's body as well as the TARDIS. They overhear the Shansheeth's plot to capture Sarah Jane and Jo and use a Memory Weave to drain their minds, before the Shansheeth discover their presence. The group locate Sarah Jane and Jo and warn them, just as Clyde feels more surges of artron energy. Suddenly, Clyde's body is replaced with that of the Doctor in his latest incarnation, the Eleventh Doctor. Once Sarah Jane and Jo recognise the stranger as the Doctor, he explains he used the artron energy to swap places with Clyde from a world 10,000 light years distant. The Shansheeth catch up to the group and fire a beam of energy at the Doctor—assuring that they will have the death of the Doctor, after all.

Part 2[edit]

As he is struck by the energy, the Doctor's body is replaced with Clyde's, temporarily confusing the aliens and allowing the group to find safety. The Doctor swaps places with Clyde again, then holds onto Sarah Jane and Jo before performing another swap, taking all three back to the alien world. With their help, the Doctor is able to repair the device that he has been using to perform these exchanges, allowing them to return to Earth without displacing Clyde's body.

Meanwhile, the children and lead Groske determine that for the Shansheeth plan to have worked, they needed help from someone in UNIT. Using the air vents, they learn that Karim is working with the Shansheeth. Their plan is to recreate the TARDIS key from Sarah Jane's and Jo's memories, such that the Shansheeth can use the time machine to stop death across the universe by interfering with timelines and Karim can leave Earth as there is nothing left for her here. Karim discovers the group's presence in the air vents and heats them up. The Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Jo return to Earth, but as they go to rescue the children, Sarah Jane and Jo are captured and secured in place. The Doctor safely rescues the children and the Groske. They find the room where Karim and Shansheeth are preparing to use the Memory Weave on the Doctor's former companions, but are unable to open the sealed door with the Doctor's sonic screwdriver.

As the Weave starts to pull the memories of the TARDIS key from Sarah Jane and Jo, the Doctor gets the idea to overload the machine. He shouts through the door for Sarah Jane and Jo to recall all their memories of their time with him, and encourages the children to do the same. The Weave is overwhelmed and begins to self-destruct, which will kill everyone in the room. Sarah Jane and Jo free themselves and, realising that the coffin brought by the Shansheeth can protect them from the blast, close themselves inside. Karim and the Shansheeth are killed in the explosion, which blows the door off. The Doctor and the children are relieved to find Sarah Jane and Jo safe.

After assuring the threat is over, the Doctor uses the TARDIS to return the group back to Sarah Jane's home and says his goodbyes before leaving. Jo and Santiago say their goodbyes and depart as well. Rani and Clyde inquire about the Doctor's other companions, whom Sarah Jane has researched and learned many have gone on to do great things for the human race. She reflects that with their legacy and memories, the Doctor will surely never die.


  • In part two, The Doctor says "Ah, ventilation shaft that brings me back" and nudges Sarah Jane in the shoulder. This is a reference to when Sarah had to crawl through a ventilation shaft in the fourth doctor story, "The Ark in Space"
  • The Doctor mentions that Amy and Rory are spending time on a planet for their honeymoon after their wedding, meaning that this takes place after "The Big Bang" and before "A Christmas Carol" from the Doctor's perspective; this parallels the episodes' broadcast sequence.
  • Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is noted as "stranded in Peru", the exact phrase used to describe his whereabouts in "The Sontaran Stratagem" and The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, and is the final mention of him in life. At some point after this story, he is moved to a nursing home, where he eventually dies.[3]
  • Liz Shaw, the first UNIT assistant of the Third Doctor, cannot make the funeral as she is currently working at UNIT's moonbase.
  • The Doctor briefly sends Clyde off-world, despite having been told by Sarah Jane at the end of The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith that Clyde and Rani were sentenced by the Judoon to be confined to Earth. The Doctor's ability to transport Clyde stems from The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, when Clyde was charged with Artron energy.
  • Alien artefacts have been found "at the foot of Mount Snowdon" by the Torchwood Institute in "Army of Ghosts" and Joshua Naismith in The End of Time.
  • Sarah Jane tells Clyde that she has researched many previous companions of the Doctor and what they are doing now. Those whom she has traced include the following:
  • The Doctor tells Jo that before regenerating, his previous incarnation looked up all of his past companions. Some of these visits were seen in The End of Time shortly before the Tenth Doctor's regeneration.
  • Several flashbacks from the original Doctor Who series as well as clips from previous Sarah Jane Adventures stories are seen, including images of the first four Doctors, whose incarnations were familiar to both Sarah Jane and Jo: they both travelled with the Third Doctor; Sarah Jane travelled with the Fourth; and Jo and Sarah Jane each met the First and Second Doctors in The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors, respectively. Former Sarah Jane Adventures principal, Maria Jackson, is included in the clips, as are a number of monsters including Daleks, Slitheen, and Sontarans.
  • When Clyde asks The Doctor how many times he can change, he states that he can change 507 times, contrary to the original twelve. Davies subsequently explained that this was a joke, both on the Doctor's part and on his.[4]
  • Jo mentions the Doctor taking her to the planet Karfel, something that was never seen on-screen but mentioned in the story Timelash; the visit was hinted at in the novel Speed of Flight, which also revealed that Jo and the Doctor were accompanied by Captain Mike Yates during their trip.
  • Jo's married name is taken from her husband, Professor Clifford Jones, whom she left UNIT to marry in The Green Death.
  • When Sarah Jane and Jo are in the lead coffin, as the Doctor goes to help them out he says "Smith and Jones", which was the title of the first episode of Series 3 of the revived version of Doctor Who.
  • Jo is unaware of the Time War which engulfed Gallifrey. During their goodbye, she expresses her wish not to get the Doctor into trouble with the Time Lords, who she knew had exiled him to Earth shortly before they met. After a brief pause, the Doctor carries on without correcting Jo.


In some of Sam Watts' music, vocals were provided by Jodie Kearns, wife of Doctor Who and Torchwood writer James Moran.[5][clarification needed]


Part 1 achieved combined final ratings of 1.40 (0.92/0.48) and Part 2 achieved combined final ratings of 1.43 (0.96/0.47).[6]

The story was repeated on 25 December 2010 as one full story where it achieved an overnight rating of 1.40 million on BBC One.[7]

Home media[edit]

This story was released on the Special Edition DVD of Doctor Who story The Green Death, including an audio commentary by Russell T Davies and Katy Manning.[8]


Death of the Doctor
Author Gary Russell
Series The Sarah Jane Adventures #11
Published 25 November 2010
BBC Children's Books
Pages 128
Preceded by The Nightmare Man

This was the eleventh and final Sarah Jane Adventures serial to be adapted as a novel. Written by Gary Russell, the book has only been published as an E-book on 25 November 2010.[9]


External links[edit]