And well done the production team of The Sarah Jane Adventures for collecting a prestige slot on this year's telethon, ten years since The Curse of the Fatal Death seemed to be the last time we'd ever see anything Who related on the small screen, and turning in something rather fun. Sure, the plot was rather less complicated than Moffat's time twister, amounting to Ronnie Corbett beaming into someone’s house and inflicting his one man show on them, but there’s not a lot you can do in five minutes, with just your main set, seven regular cast members to give something to do and a special guest star. Quite rightly given the context, writers Clayton Hickman (first tv credit!) and Gareth Roberts offered some good puns and a parade of fart jokes. I honestly didn’t get the two Rani’s until the second time around, but the sudden appearance of the chair and meandering story worked, as did the veiled references to Ronnie Corbett's golfing buddies.
It’s interesting, how, after so long in the post-Barker wilderness, in the past few years Corbett has been rehabilitated enough by his prat fall in the Peter Kay video for Comic Relief (Is This The Way To) Amarillo) for him to be a perfectly reasonable addition to the earlier evening end of Comic Relief. He certainly looked the part in that suit (perhaps a shrunken version of the one John Cleese wore on The Frost Report?) and I quite like the idea of an ambassador for the Galactic Alliance whoever they are and whatever they do. You might grumble that he turned out to be yet another Slitheen and the mass of exposition that explained the appearance, but like it or not, they’re the most recognisable nu-Who invention to have previously turned up in SJA and for once the gas ventilation whatsitthingamydoodaa actually sort of made sense in context.
Squint closely enough at whatever this was called (‘Funny for Money?’ ‘The Two Ranis?’) and for better or worse you could see a microcosm of the first couple of seasons of the series; visiting comedian playing the bad guy, Luke looking earnest, Clyde and Rani trading jokes, Sarah Jane momentarily holding back the tears, plenty of nostalgic references for the adults that constitute the real audience, a combination of Mr Smith and the Sonic Lipstick saving the day and a speech reminding the villain not to mess with this world saving dysfunctional group dynamic that meet inside the roof of Georgian-style property.
They’re already nitpicking on the Doctor Who Forum (“The Slitheen aren’t a race, they’re family.” “cringeworthy writing and acting” “really slowing down and dissipating the atmosphere” “obvious 'plot'”) which is a shame because it’s heart was in the right place. True, it was no Time Crash, but it’s wasn’t trying to be – different motives and deliberately trying to make you just laugh not cry as well (for a change) (damn you, Moffat) and I did. Laugh I mean. Hah, ha. Plus, has there been a funnier and disrespectful use of K9 than clamping him and having a red nose appear on his schnoz? It's certainly more entertaining than what his creators have done for his own spin-off. Have you seen that? Ugh.