The Day of the Clown was the second serial of series 2 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It was written by Phil Ford and directed by Michael Kerrigan. It featured Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Tommy Knight as Luke Smith, Daniel Anthony as Clyde Langer and Alexander Armstrong as Mr Smith and it introduced Anjli Mohindra as Rani Chandra.

This story 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 continued 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.

Also noteworthy was the guest appearance of Bradley Walsh as the episode's villain Elijah Spellman, almost ten years before his casting as Graham O'Brien, a companion of the Thirteenth Doctor. Incidentally, Walsh's first episode as Graham, The Woman Who Fell to Earth, was broadcast exactly a decade and day later.

Synopsis Edit

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.

Plot Edit

Part 1 Edit

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. 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.


Park Vale Comprehensive School gets a new sheriff: the new girl's dad!

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 because her daughter Rani wants to become one herself.


Luke makes a new friend — in Maria's old bedroom

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 Luke and Clyde find out that Rani's dad is Mr Chandra. Mr Chandra 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.


Clyde gets accused of having a sense of humour inappropriate to the situation

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...

Part 2 Edit

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 museum. 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.


Sarah gives Rani a choice.

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 the 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".


In a hall of mirrors, Sarah confronts Spellman.

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 from 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.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume 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.

References Edit

Individuals Edit

Cultural references from the real world Edit

Foods and beverages Edit

Locations Edit

Objects Edit

Other Edit

Story notes Edit

  • 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.
  • Gita continues the tradition of misnaming of Sarah Jane that was begun by Chrissie Jackson, albeit to a smaller degree by calling her simply 'Sarah' as opposed to Sarah Jane. It is shown that Sarah Jane is irritated by this, despite the Doctor having done the same repeatedly throughout their friendship (with Rani pointing this out when she meets the Tenth Doctor in TV: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith).
  • Gita's name was originally Sundra, Haresh's name was originally Suresh and theirs and Rani's last name was originally going to be Rakhit.[1]
  • Anjli Mohindra and Bradley Walsh later starred together again in the Doctor Who story Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror which saw Walsh play a companion and Mohindra play the story's villain, Queen Skithra, thereby reversing their roles. Mohindra said that, despite the fact that she and Walsh had worked together before, he did not recognise her because of her make-up. She initially believed he was joking with her but it was only when he asked to see a picture of her so he could say hello to her if he passed her in the street that she realised he was being serious.

Ratings Edit

  • Part 1 - 514,000 viewers
  • Part 2 - 443,000 viewers

Filming locations Edit

to be added

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

Continuity Edit


Clara the Clown

Home video releases Edit

  • This story, along with the rest of series 2, was released on DVD on the 9th November 2009 (UK) and 10th November 2009 (North America).
  • It was also released in the Complete Collection Series 1-5 boxset release (Region 2 release: 6th February 2012).

Footnotes Edit

External links Edit

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