Spoilers are precisely defined here. Rules vary by the story's medium. Info from television stories can't be added here until after the top or bottom of the hour, British time, closest to the end credits roll on BBC One. Therefore, fans in the Americas who are sensitive to spoilers should avoid Tardis on Sundays until they've seen the episode.



The Mad Woman in the Attic was the second serial of series 3 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It was written by Joseph Lidster and directed by Alice Troughton.

It marked the closing of the artificial black hole in Switzerland, first seen in Invasion of the Bane, which K9 had been guarding. With his mission completed, K9 returned home and his role in future episodes increased. More so, Sarah Jane Smith received a premonition that the Doctor's TARDIS would soon appear in her attic, which transpired in the next serial. Luke Smith also learned that he would soon attend a graduation ceremony, a glimpse of the future that would come to precedence at the start of series 4.


The year is 2059. In the derelict attic of 13 Bannerman Road, an elderly Rani Chandra tells the story of the day she met the alien Eve and how her life went wrong.


Part one[]

In the year 2059, a boy called Adam walks inside the dark, mysterious 13 Bannerman Road. It is no longer occupied by Sarah Jane Smith, but by a self-described "mad old woman," Rani Chandra. Mr Smith has long since broken down and the whole house seems to be deteriorating. Rani herself is unkempt and unwell. She lingers over old photographs and drawings as she tells Adam how she came to be in this sorry state...

In 2009, Rani is intrigued by reports of strange lights. She goes to Sarah Jane to discuss them. Sarah Jane, Luke and Clyde are laughing about Maria Jackson, who is now hiding aliens from the American government. Sarah Jane says the strange lights were just lightning; Mr Smith has already checked up on them. Hurt by Sarah Jane's dismissive attitude, Rani returns home to sulk and finds an e-mail from Sam Lloyd, her best friend before she moved to Ealing. Sam is an orphan who lost contact with Rani, even though she confided in him about her adventures with Sarah Jane.

Rani visits Sam, who tells her that there is a "demon" in a closed funfair and people have disappeared. Rani goes in to investigate, but Sam returns to the orphanage. Rani finds the caretaker, Harry, and pretends she has a twisted ankle to get into his office. There, she hears a voice say, "Playtime has begun". She witnesses the people who disappeared walk from the haunted house and begin playing on the rides; all of their eyes have turned red and they smile fixedly. The rides seem to operate themselves. While Rani observes the people on the rides, Harry is contacted by a red face in his mirror. The voice says, "Playtime is over", and the people return to the haunted house.

Clyde investigates Rani's disappearance and finds Sam's e-mail. Sarah Jane, Luke and Clyde go to the orphanage, where Sam tells them where Rani is.

Rani makes her way into the haunted house and discovers a red-skinned alien called Eve. Eve is a fellow teenager and the two talk. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane tries to call Rani, who mutters to herself that she wishes they'd just leave her alone. Eve says her race can allow people to see their pasts and futures, as well as manipulate timelines. They were killed off in a conflict between two other races. Eve's parents placed her in a ship that crashed on Earth. Harry found her and has raised her ever since, hidden in the fair.

Sarah Jane and Clyde leave to find Rani, while Luke stays behind with Sam. Sam tells Luke that Eve saw Rani in his mind and wanted to meet her. Later, Eve’s face appears on the mirror in Sam’s room, just as Sarah Jane and Clyde meet up with Harry.

Eve says the people she has possessed are her friends. She is not allowed outdoors because of her inhuman appearance. Eve asks Rani if she wants to see her future. Rani sees herself old and insane. She denies violently that such a thing could happen to her and decides to help Eve escape.

Part two[]

Rani, possessed by Eve.

They also see the face in the mirror. The face scans Sarah Jane's mind and shows her past and a glimpse of her future: the Doctor's TARDIS in her attic. Sam captures Luke and the face does the same for him, showing him as a university graduate. Sarah Jane runs outside and Clyde follows. The face exclaims they need "the darkness"; it is their future.

Sarah Jane and Clyde go to find Eve, who is escaping with Rani. Though they argue, Rani insists on taking Eve outside. Meanwhile, back at the orphanage, Luke brings a couple of mugs into Sam's room, but discovers Sam is gone. He goes to the computer and sees a note that says that it wasn't Eve that wanted Rani.

Eve is thrilled to see the outside world, but soon her ability to manipulate people and rides goes out of control; she sends her "friends" out for "playtime" and the rides spin wildly. When Rani gets angry at her and storms off, Eve possesses her too, causing her eyes to turn red. Sam arrives at the funfair. Eve says Rani was scared of the future and growing old, but now she will be young forever. Eve doubles over in pain, energy flashing between the rides and her body. Sarah Jane tells her she has to let the people go, but Eve tells her she doesn't know how.

Sarah Jane and Clyde go back inside to consult the face in the mirror. The face identifies itself as Ship, the computer system that drives Eve's ship, programmed to protect Eve until she is fully grown. Ship says Eve is slowly dying. She is too young to control her powers and must be brought back to Ship for treatment.

Harry makes the homeless people and Rani sit while Sarah Jane, Sam and Clyde go to the beach to locate Ship and get Eve on board. Ship absorbs Eve's excess energy, saving her life and returning Rani and the others to themselves. Rani and Harry run to the beach and also board Ship. Eve invites Sam and Harry to travel the stars with her. Ship reveals that the darkness it seeks is a black hole as it is the only thing that can provide it power. Sarah Jane, realising that the black hole K9 is containing would be perfect, quickly has Mr Smith patch her through. She arranges for K9 to transport the black hole into Ship's engines, which allows him to come home for good, much to the dismay of Mr Smith.

As Rani and her friends prepare to leave, Ship stops her and offers to grant Rani a wish. As she had said she wished Clyde, Luke and Sarah Jane would leave her alone, Ship erases them from existence. Rani, Eve and Sam try to convince Ship that wasn't what was meant, but Ship doesn't listen and leaves, taking Eve, Sam and Harry.

In 2059, Rani has finished her tale. Adam tells her he's not from across the road; his mum sent him. Rani is confused. Adam's eyes glow red. He is the son of Eve and Sam. He explains that Ship was damaged and she got it wrong. He has come here to grant her a wish. She wishes Ship never took her friends away and Adam corrects it.

The scene on the ship repeats, but this time, Ship keeps quiet and doesn't erase anyone. Ship takes off happily with Eve, Sam and Harry, onwards to more adventure. Sarah Jane, Rani and Clyde are joined by Luke and find K9 at Sarah Jane's house when they return. Sarah Jane takes a photo of Rani, Luke, Clyde and K9.

In 2059, Rani is now living a very different life. She still lives in Bannerman Road, but is healthy and sane. The house is clean and well-lit. Her three grandchildren rush into the attic to hug her, followed by their father, Shuresh, who asks her how her trip to Washington DC was. She says it was great and she and Luke got to catch up with Maria. The photo of Rani with Luke, Clyde and K9 is on a shelf.


Uncredited cast[]


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.

K9's creator credit was in Part 2 only.



  • Sarah Jane mentions the Terrible Zodin while talking to Luke and Clyde.
  • Eve refers to her race being targeted by both sides in a war and many being "exterminated" because of their ability to read the "timelines".
  • Rani in 2059 talks about the time before people became truly aware of aliens, such as Cybermen and Daleks.
  • Images of the Bane, Slitheen, the Trickster, Captain Tybo and Kaagh are seen when Eve views Rani's thoughts.
  • The Zodin are a species of alien which look like the Fimbles.


  • Mrs Chang works in the Saint Anthony's children's home.


  • Newspapers report strange lights at the BT Tower.


Story notes[]

  • In early drafts of the plot, Eve had been kidnapped by Mark Grantham from Series 1's Warriors of Kudlak.[1]
  • The episode features a guest appearance by Brian Miller, the real-life husband of Elisabeth Sladen.
  • This is the only episode of the series to not have an actual villain, as neither Eve nor Ship, despite their actions, are depicted as having ill-intent, simply being lonely and following instruction to the letter, respectively.
  • Several clips from the classic era are shown when Sarah Jane's mind is read, including The Five Doctors, The Hand of Fear and The Time Warrior, as well as footage of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. This marks the first time footage from the classic series had appeared on one of the spin-off series, though the first overall "revival era" story to use such clips was The Next Doctor in 2008.
  • Sarah Jane's reference to the Terrible Zodin is a continuation of a running joke — Zodin is referenced on-screen but never seen — dating back to The Five Doctors. Although various Doctors and companions have claimed to have encountered her, this is the first time Sarah Jane had made such a claim.
  • Due to Elisabeth Sladen's untimely death in 2011, the Sarah Jane Adventures would not have a fully-realised conclusion that gave absolute closure to the series. However, this episode provided a glimpse of Rani Chandra's future in a timeline that could be considered the true ending of the series. The question of whether or not she got together with Clyde Langer is also implied to be true, considering the mixed ethnicity of her children.


  • Part 1 - 0.75 million viewers, with an AI score of 86. (DWMSE 28)
  • Part 2 - 0.84 million viewers, with an AI score of 86. (DWMSE 28)

Filming locations[]

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.
  • Luke first says Maria is "helping the government hide aliens" — when this scene is replayed by Eve, he says Maria is "helping aliens hide from the government".
  • When Mr Smith telephones K9, a screen graphic overlay extends beyond the borders of his computer screen frame.


Home media releases[]

DVD releases[]

  • It was released in the Complete Collection Series 1-5 boxset release (Region 2 release: 6th February 2012).


External links[]