Doctor Who A to Z: S is for Smith

Inspired by a series of Facebook posts that I saw, we are going to run through an alphabetical series of Doctor Who-related themes. Today we continue this with the letter S…

(Daily Doctor Who #306)


Specifically, this is about MIss Smith…Miss Sarah Jane Smith, journalist and companion to both Third Doctor Jon Pertwee…

and Fourth Doctor Tom Baker…

Recurring guest star for the Tenth Doctor David Tennant…

And star of her own spin-off TV show…

The question here is what is my favorite Sarah Jane Smith moment?

Well, here’s the funny thing…I’m not actually the biggest Sarah Jane Smith fan. I mean, I like her, but she’s never been my favorite. Not my favorite Third or Fourth Doctor companion, nor my favorite recurring guest star for the Tenth Doctor. I guess she is my favorite companion to get her own spin-off TV show, though.

But like I said, I do like her.

There’s a lot of her stories I haven’t rewatched recently, but there is one that I have seen and quite enjoyed, and a sequence from that is what comes to mind with this question.

Sarah Jane Smith’s Departure, The Hand of Fear

1976’s The Hand of Fear is a fun story that just falls shy of being great, largely because it’s just not intense enough to really stand out. But amongst a number of good scenes is an excellent farewell for the beloved Sarah Jane.

It starts with her and the Doctor back on the TARDIS, with Sarah whinging about how difficult her travels are while the Doctor basically ignores her as he is trying to do some repairs. She announces in a huff that she’s packing up her things and leaving!

The Doctor doesn’t hear this and so doesn’t know why she’s stormed off. But then suddenly, he receives a signal from Gallifrey, his home planet, telling him he must come home. The Doctor instantly knows that he must obey, and that he can’t take Sarah with him.

She returns to the console room with the funniest collection of junk that she’s apparently decided to use in her dramatic storming away (it seems to include a potted plant, a tennis racket and a stuffed owl!) and is surprised when the Doctor seems to think she really means it. Of course she didn’t…but it doesn’t matter, it’s time for the two to say goodbye.

The Doctor lands the TARDIS in Sarah’s home town of South Croydon, right on her very street. Too soon, it’s time for the two dear friends to say their farewells–tender and sad, but not overplayed.

Sarah goes outside and the TARDIS dematerializes. Only then does Sarah Jane realize she is not on the right road, and probably not even in the right town. Years later, we’ll learn that she was actually in Scotland!

She shares her exasperation to a sunbathing dog, and then strolls away, whistling to herself.

It’s a great scene, written apparently by script editor Robert Holmes, and re-written by Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen themselves.

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