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The Empty Planet was the fourth serial of series 4 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It was written by Gareth Roberts and directed by Ashley Way. It focused on Clyde and Rani, including at least one of the characters in nearly every scene. The events of this story also strengthened their personal connection, implying a possible romantic attraction. It was notable for its minimal cast and its heavy use of location filming.


Clyde and Rani are apparently the only survivors of the human race. The whole of Earth is empty – even Sarah Jane has vanished. A deserted London holds terrors of its own, mainly in the form of two mysterious and menacing robots.


Part 1[]

Sarah Jane tells Mr Smith to do a maximum scan. Clyde asks what is going on. Rani tells him that Mr Smith picked up an alien energy trace for a second, then it vanished into the signals of every energy source on Earth. When they leave Sarah Jane's house, Rani reminds Clyde of their school assignment. Clyde sees no point in doing the reading considering they might be invaded. Rani's dad comes to see her in her room, but she asks him to leave so she can finish the assignment. Clyde's mum also comes to see him. She compliments him on his latest cartoon drawings.

As they sleep, the mix of signals and sounds transmitted across Earth is suddenly cut out. Rani wakes to find her parents missing. She sees no-one on the street. Sarah Jane is also gone and Mr Smith does not seem to be in the computer that houses him. Rani searches for another person. She finds nothing has a signal any more. She prays she is not alone. She hears a knock at the door and opens it to find Clyde. They head into town to look for someone besides them.

They can't find anyone and realise that if everyone suddenly disappeared, there should be crashed vehicles everywhere. There are not, which means that whatever took the humans didn't want to do any damage. They go to a cafe for breakfast and try to figure out why they have not been taken. They decide to return to the attic, but notice crates being knocked over. They spot another person, who runs away. Giving chase, they follow him to an apartment block. He is a schoolboy called Gavin who has been living with his aunt and uncle since his mother died, his father having disappeared shortky after his birth. Rather than being relieved to see other people, Gavin is afraid of Rani and Clyde. They try to convince him they mean no harm and Rani tells him about aliens to try to gain his trust. Gavin is still skeptical. As they try to persuade him to help, a strange noise is heard. Gavin slips away while Rani and Clyde try to work out what it was. Clyde points out a couple of strange facts about Gavin, such as how he should have been happy to see other people on Earth rather than afraid and how his room is almost bare with no pictures of him with his aunt and uncle, indicating they care little for him.

They go back to the cafe and see a strange image on all the screens, even the mobile phones. They hear a noise getting closer and investigate. Rani notices Gavin and goes down an alley; Clyde looks around the corner and sees a yellow robot. It corners him whilst Rani is cornered by a red robot. The robots both lift their arms and point them directly at Rani and Clyde. A glow then emanates from one of their fingers which is accompanied by a beeping sound.

Part 2[]

Gavin uses a dumpster to push the robot facing Rani against the wall so they can escape. This apparently affects the other robot as it becomes momentarily distracted, allowing Clyde to run away. He evades it by hiding in a store and meets up with Rani and Gavin. They look at the images on the screens and go in search of the robots, then decide to return to the cafe. Rani and Clyde talk about what makes them different, mentioning time fissures, space travel and the Doctor's TARDIS, much to Gavin's confusion. All of these things pertain to Sarah Jane as well, however. Clyde then remembers something that connects only him and Rani: during their encounter with the Judoon, the two were given tickets forbidding them from leaving Earth; hence it would be illegal to remove them, which is the only logical explanation why the robots left them behind. This still doesn't explain why Gavin is still there; he knows nothing about aliens.

The robots burst into the cafe. The three children escape out the back door. Rani and Clyde tell Gavin to get away, thinking the robots must be after only them. The two split up to distract the robots. They are each cornered again and the robots raise their arms to them again but it turns out that these are scanners. After scanning them, the robots stare at Rani and Clyde for a few seconds and try speaking to them but they cannot understand their language. Clyde returns to the cafe and his robot follows him.

In the cafe, Clyde shows the robots a newspaper so they can learn English quickly. The robots reveal that the strange image on all the screens is a countdown. They demand "the air", saying that if it is not given to them by the end of the countdown, the human race will not return. They then add that they also want "the sun". Clyde and Rani are confused by the robots' demand, but then Rani realises that they aren't saying "sun and air", but "son and heir". It turns out that Gavin's dad was an alien king. He has died, and the robots have come to take Gavin to their planet. Clyde asks if Gavin knows about this and the robots reply that the information was sent to him. They realise that was the energy trace that Mr Smith picked up the previous night, but Gavin never received it.

Clyde and Rani search for Gavin back at his flat but find that he's not there. They try to work out where he might have gone. Theorising he would most likely head somewhere he would feel safe, and realising his interest in nature, they determine that he has gone to the Ealing Circle Nature Reserve. They find him there and he is alarmed at the sight of the robots but Rani and Clyde quickly bring him up to speed but the robots cannot see him. They determine that Gavin is wearing a bio-damper ring that is shielding his alien half. They convince him to remove it and he gives it to Rani. The robots scan him, identifying him as their king and send him the information again, showing him the planet he is meant to rule. Gavin agrees to go. He orders the robots to return everyone to Earth. He bestows upon his new friends the titles Lord Clyde and Lady Rani before he leaves.

Clyde and Rani celebrate everyone's return.

Everyone returns to their rightful places. Rani goes home to find Haresh on the phone to Gita, who has gone out to try and find Rani; both are desperately worried about her. Haresh is confused, saying that he's "lost" an hour and a half. One minute it was seven o'clock and the next it was eight-thirty. Rani just shrugs this off but her dad presses her for information on where she was. She is unsure of what to say but Clyde then walks through the door so she quickly states that she was with him. Clyde is on the phone to his mum who is equally worried about him; he assures her that he is alright. Sarah Jane then walks in; having been called by Haresh due to his concern over Rani. Sarah Jane asks what happened but Clyde whispers that he'll tell her later. He and Sarah Jane then leave and Rani goes to get ready for school.

Later that night, Sarah Jane tells Rani and Clyde that Mr Smith has fixed the records to indicate that Gavin has moved to Australia and congratulates them on doing such a great job all on their own. They think about the fact that if they had never met Sarah Jane, they would have been in big trouble. Sarah Jane worries that one day, if their adventures together come to an end, she doesn't want the two of them to be alone like she was. Rani shoots down her fears by saying after the day's events, she has no idea what it is like to be alone. Sarah Jane sees she has a fair point and decides to reward her friends by ordering a pizza, for saving the world. After she leaves, Clyde and Rani agree that they are not alone, because they've got each other. She gives him a warm smile and hands over Gavin's ring so he may wear it like she has, a slightly more intimate gesture. They affectionately address each other by their knightly titles and share a high-five, a score one for the "hangers-on" of Sarah Jane's troupe, who have proven they are indeed quite the opposite — invaluable protectors of the Earth.



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.





Foods and beverages[]

  • Clyde gathers tea and biscuits from Gavin's flat.
  • Sarah Jane buys pizza as a treat for Clyde and Rani in honour of saving the world.


  • Clyde compares the jargon he and Rani use about fighting aliens to speaking like the characters in Star Trek.
  • Rani and Clyde show a newspaper to the robots so they may assimilate the English language. They randomly blurt words, such as Lady Gaga.
  • Clyde thinks the "son and heir" is Prince Charles, and suggests that the robots can have him and Camilla too.

Books from the real world[]

Story notes[]

  • The majority of this story takes place over the course of an hour and a half.
  • The robots are very similar to the Roboidz from Mission: 2110, who are of a similar shape and also come in red and yellow.
  • Elisabeth Sladen's contribution to this episode is minimal, appearing only in the opening scene of part one and the final two scenes of part two, appearing for less than four minutes in total. Sladen also had a "lite" appearance in The Mark of the Berserker.
  • The decision to draw more attention to the attraction between Clyde and Rani is once again highlighted in The Man Who Never Was, and would likely have been more prevalent in future stories if the series hadn't come to an end prematurely due to Elisabeth Sladen's death in 2011. While other stories tended to highlight the character relationship in an ironic and comedic context, this serial is one of the few opportunities for it to be prevalently featured and explored narratively.


to be added

Filming locations[]

to be added

Production errors[]

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.
  • Gavin avoids Clyde and Rani by going through the clothes shop. But the front door would not be unlocked at that time of the morning.
  • In the wide shot of Rani, Clyde and Gavin walking down the street in part 2, a discarded carrying case is in front of Gavin. But in the next shot, it's behind him.
  • Haresh claims that one minute it was seven o'clock and the next it was eight-thirty; meaning he's "lost" an hour and a half. But in fact everyone disappeared before long before seven o'clock.


Home video releases[]

DVD releases[]

  • This story was included in the Complete 4th Series DVD release (Region 2 release: 31st October 2011).
  • It was also released in the Complete Collection Series 1-5 boxset release (Region 2 release: 6th February 2012).

Blu-ray releases[]

to be added

External links[]