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 featured Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Daniel Anthony as Clyde Langer, Anjli Mohindra as Rani Chandra and Alexander Armstrong as Mr Smith.
It was notable for its minimal cast and its exceptionally heavy use of location filming. The story 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, hinting at a possible romantic attraction.
Clyde and Rani are apparently the only survivors of the human race. The whole of Earth is empty – even Sarah has vanished. A deserted London holds terrors of its own, mainly in the form of two mysterious and menacing robots.
Part 1 Edit
Sarah 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'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 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. 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 sceptical. 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... he should have been happy to see other people on Earth rather than afraid. Also, his room is almost bare and there are 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...
Part 2 Edit
Gavin pushes the robot facing Rani against the wall so they can escape. Clyde runs away from the yellow robot and hides in a store. He evades it 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 TARDIS, much to Gavin's confusion. All of these things pertain to Sarah as well, however. Clyde then remembers something that connects only him and Rani... during their encounter with the Judoon, the two were given a ticket 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 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. The robots scan them, but do not kill them.
In the cafe, Clyde shows the robots a newspaper so they can learn the language quickly. The robots reveal that the strange image is a countdown. They demand the "sun and air", saying that if it is not given to them by the end of the countdown, the human race will not return. 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. They sent the news in the energy trace from the previous night, but Gavin never received it.
Clyde and Rani search for Gavin, finally locating him at the Ealing Circle Nature Reserve. The robots cannot see him. They determine that Gavin is wearing a bio-damper ring to shield his alien half; when this is removed, the robots 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, and gives his bio-damper ring to Rani.
Everyone returns to their rightful places. Mr Smith fixes the records to indicate that Gavin has moved to Australia. Clyde and Rani think about the fact that if they had never met Sarah, they would have been in big trouble. Sarah 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 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's troupe, who have proven they are indeed quite the opposite — invaluable protectors of the Earth.
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Clyde Langer - Daniel Anthony
- Rani Chandra - Anjli Mohindra
- Mr Smith - Alexander Armstrong
- Haresh Chandra - Ace Bhatti
- Carla Langer - Jocelyn Jee Esien
- Gavin - Joe Mason
- Red Robot - Paul Kasey
- Yellow Robot - Ruari Mears
- Voice of Robots - Jon Glover
Created by Russell T Davies
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Nikki Wilson|
|General production staff|
Camera and lighting department
|Make-up and prosthetics
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.|
- Mrs Frazer lives in 30 Bannerman Road in Ealing.
- Gavin's mother, father and aunt are mentioned.
- A dog runs past Rani.
- Clyde says that when he thought he was alone he would've been glad to see anyone, even if it was Chris Moyles.
- The Ealing Circle was a nature reserve in Ealing.
- The Automatons come to Earth on High Street.
- Clyde mentions Heathrow Airport
Foods and beverages Edit
- Clyde gathers tea and biscuits from Gavin's flat.
- Sarah 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, 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 Edit
- Rani and Clyde are reading Great Expectations as a school assignment.
Story notes Edit
- The robots are very similar to the Roboidz from Mission: 2110, who are of a similar shape and also come in red and yellow.
- The story takes place over the course of an hour and a half.
- 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 ended 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.
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Filming locations Edit
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Production errors Edit
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- Clyde draws a comic strip featuring the Shansheeth. (TV: Death of the Doctor) This is the third time he has drawn something of alien origin. The other two times he drew K9 and a Sontaran blaster. (TV: Mona Lisa's Revenge)
- Clyde refers to meeting the Pied Piper of Hamelin. (TV: The Day of the Clown)
- Clyde and Rani conclude they were left on Earth because they were grounded by the Judoon the previous year. (TV: Prisoner of the Judoon)
- Gavin is hidden by a bio damper. (TV: The Runaway Bride, Secrets of the Stars)
- Clyde and Rani mention travelling in the TARDIS (TV: Death of the Doctor) and going through a time fissure. (TV: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith)
- After hearing the sounds of the Earth, Clyde remarks, "Bit noisy, aren't we?" The Tenth Doctor said of Earth, "This planet's so noisy!" (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- The Automata remove everyone from Earth with a warp shunt. The Nestene Consciousness used similar technology to send itself to Earth. (TV: Rose)
Home video releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
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Blu-ray releases Edit
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- The Empty Planet at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Empty Planet at The Locations Guide