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The Nightmare Man was the first serial of series 4 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It was written by Joseph Lidster and directed by Joss Agnew. It featured Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Tommy Knight as Luke Smith, Daniel Anthony as Clyde Langer, Anjli Mohindra as Rani Chandra, Alexander Armstrong as Mr Smith and John Leeson as K9.

It featured the final regular appearance of Tommy Knight as Luke Smith. Although occasionally, in the past, Knight had reduced his involvement in the programme to concentrate on his school work, by 2009 Knight's studies had entered a more demanding phase. Nightmare accordingly wrote Luke out as a series regular, but in such a way that occasional returns were narratively plausible. Similarly, Bob Baker had been less willing to allow the expanded use of K9 Mark IV that typified the previous series, due to the 2010 transmission of his Australian K9 spin-off. Both Luke and K9 were therefore summarily bundled off to Oxford University at the end of this story, rarely to be heard from again. It was, however, an indulgent farewell for both characters, allowing them both significant parts to play in the action.

Tommy Knight's departure meant that, from this point on in the series, the only regular left from the first story was Elisabeth Sladen, and, if treated as part of the main cast, Alexander Armstrong's role as voicing Mr Smith.

Synopsis Edit

Luke faces life-changing events, and Bannerman Road will never be the same again. But when Sarah's son has his first nightmare, he's haunted by a dark figure from his dreams: the Nightmare Man. A strange entity is reaching out to our world through Luke, with terrible consequences for the whole human race. With Luke, Clyde and Rani trapped in a bizarre dreamscape, Sarah must fight alone. As the Nightmare Man grows stronger, only K9 might hold the key. But can Luke summon the courage to face his adult life before the whole world is trapped in an endless nightmare?

Plot Edit

Part 1 Edit

A video recording from Luke begins, with Luke explaining that the world will end because of him, warning that "he" is coming. One year earlier, Luke tells Sarah about Mr Chandra's decision to let him take his A-Levels early, allowing him to start university a year ahead of everyone else. Sarah reminds Luke that they are handcuffed to a bomb, set to detonate in seconds. As a Slitheen tries to make his escape, they are rescued by K9, who renders the bomb inert. Rani and Clyde arrive and throw a bucket of vinegar over the Slitheen, causing him to explode. When the day of the exam results arrives, Clyde expresses his concerns to Rani and Sarah about Luke. Luke joins then and announces he has four A*'s and that he is headed for Oxford University.

Four days before leaving, Luke sees Rani leaving for school, then joins Sarah in the attic. Luke confides in her about his fear of leaving. Sarah comforts him and offers to make scrambled egg for breakfast, despite a disastrous attempt before. After school, Clyde receives a text messages from Luke, asking to see him, but not to reply. When Rani asks if he will see Luke, Clyde replies that Luke needs to get used to them not being around. Meanwhile, Sarah presents Luke with a leaving gift: her old Volkswagen Beetle, which she had restored. Luke assumes she can't wait for him to go, but Sarah admits she is scared of losing him. That night, Luke overhears Sarah and K9 talking about how Luke was a big mistake. However, it turns out to be a bad dream.


Luke meets the Nightmare Man for the first time.

The next day, Rani visits Luke before school. Luke tells Rani that he had a nightmare, and she urges him to tell Sarah. They conclude that Luke's worries about leaving are causing the nightmares. Later, Rani asks Clyde why he hasn't contacted Luke. Clyde explains that, despite his concern, he is unsure of what to say. That night, Luke experiences another nightmare; he finds himself in a dark corridor from school before being approached by a bitter Clyde and Rani. They express their envy about him leaving before them, and mock him for his superior intelligence, calling him an alien. Sarah Jane arrives and takes comfort in Rani and Clyde, and the three brand Luke a loser. Luke then begins to hear the Nightmare Man, who explains that he feeds from his nightmares to gain power. Luke wakes up. He tells Sarah about his nightmares, who then asks Mr Smith to scan Luke.

He reveals that Luke is fine, aside from raised anxiety levels. Luke receives a text from Clyde, asking to meet him later. Luke arrives at school, where a surprise party is held by Rani and Clyde. After talking with Clyde, Luke sits down and falls asleep. He meets the Nightmare Man, who prevents him from telling anyone about him. When Luke is woken up by Clyde. Rani recognises that Luke had another dream, but his fear stops him from telling her about it. That night, he tries to send Maria a message, explaining his nightmares, but finds himself unable to. Seconds later, Luke falls asleep.

He finds himself in the attic, where Sarah, Clyde and Rani are showing the house to Josh, a replacement for Luke. Mr Smith tells Sarah that Luke is calling from Oxford, but she dismisses it by telling him to take a message. The Nightmare Man then takes Luke outside, where Clyde and Rani are dumping Luke's belongings, include a sketch Clyde drew of the two of them together. Just before they set it alight, Sarah quickly arrives to add a photo of them on top. Luke asks the Nightmare Man what he wants, to which he responds that he wants to exist, and that one more nightmare from Luke will grant him access into reality. Luke wakes up. The day before he is due to leave, Rani and Clyde spend the night to see Luke off the next morning. While his friends are asleep, Luke sneaks into the attic with Rani's video camera to record a message, the same message that was shown at the beginning. However, just before he can finish, he falls asleep, allowing the Nightmare Man passage into the real world. Meanwhile, Luke finds himself stranded in a black void.

Part 2 Edit

Having escaped from Luke's dreams, the Nightmare Man heads to Luke's room, moments before Sarah enters the attic. The Nightmare Man promptly invades Rani's dreams, followed by Clyde's. Meanwhile, Sarah is watching the footage on Rani's camera when she sees the message recorded by Luke moments ago. A panic-stricken Sarah calls upon Mr Smith and K9 for help. Mr Smith provides Sarah with more information about the Nightmare Man, identifying him as an alien from another universe. With the help of some sentient concrete and an energy boost from Mr Smith, K9 is able to communicate to Luke in his dream. Meanwhile, the Nightmare Man sneaks outside and attempts to ensnare everyone in Bannerman Road. His efforts, however, are thwarted when Luke, Rani and Clyde are reunited in their nightmares. He returns to the attic and disables K9 and Mr Smith before confronting Sarah. The Nightmare Man taunts her by listing off her worst nightmares, but Sarah calls his bluff by telling him to send her to sleep, saying that without the gang she has no reason left to live. Knowing that Luke, Clyde and Rani together are weakening him, the Nightmare Man disappears into their dreams.

Ranis nightmare

Rani's nightmare.

Rani's nightmare begins with her lying on her sofa while a BBC news report is being broadcast. As Rani attempts to switch it off, the reporter, Louise Marlowe, berates Rani for being ignorant. Shocked that she is being spoken to directly, Rani approaches the television screen, where Louise grabs her and pulls her into the studio. Rani discovers her clothes have changed; Louise questions Rani's journalism aspirations and forces her to present a story exposing Sarah's adventures. When Rani refuses, Louise asks how often she is put in near-death situations. When the broadcast goes live, Rani is hesitant to proceed when she hears Luke calling out to her. She is reunited with him after imagining a doorway, despite Louise questioning his importance to her.

Clyde finds himself working in an abandoned burger bar café. He is visited by an elderly Sarah, using a wheelchair, who begins to criticise Clyde's future and calls him "stupid". She continues to compare him to Luke, who she claims is working in government and is set to be an astronaut. She tells Clyde that she once went to space, but when Clyde reminds her that he already knows, Sarah reveals that social services are trying to put her in a care home. Clyde tries to leave but finds the entrance locked. Moments later, Clyde hears Luke calling out to him and reunites with him after imagining a doorway.

Nightmare man vanquished

The Nightmare Man is defeated.

Luke is back in the school corridor, hounded by the laughter of the Nightmare Man. Luke calls out to him, successfully making contact, but is unable to wake up. As Luke is about to give up, K9 appears and tells him that Rani and Clyde are also under the Nightmare Man's influence. Luke calls out and encourages them to imagine a doorway into his corridor, soon reuniting with them and weakening the Nightmare Man. When he arrives and sends Rani and Clyde to their own dreams, Luke tells him that their friendship will overcome any hardship. The strength of their friendship overpowers and sends the Nightmare Man into his own nightmare where an elderly Sarah constantly tells him about Luke's success. The three then wake up and are reunited with Sarah. The next morning, Sarah tells K9 to accompany Luke to Oxford, allowing him time to make peace with Mr Smith. Luke says goodbye to the gang and leaves Bannerman Road in his new car.

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

Story notes Edit

  • The Raxacoricofallapatorian is slightly physically different than previously-seen members of the Slitheen family. Its skin colour is a darker green which also covers its stomach, and it also has green fingernails at one point. In the closing credits, however, the Raxacoricofallapatorian is referred to as a Slitheen. It was also referred to as this on the official SJA website.
  • The Nightmare Man says, "Children of Earth", which was the title of the third series of Torchwood.
  • In part two, when trying to decide whether to invade Clyde or Rani's dreams first, the Nightmare Man recites the children's counting rhyme, "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe", which includes the word "tiger" in the second line; Rani gets the "moe". This rhyme was previously recited by the King of Hearts in The Celestial Toymaker, where it somewhat infamously included a racial slur.
  • This is the second time one of the main cast has left in a series opener; Maria left in The Last Sontaran, the first serial of Series 2. However, like Maria, Luke continued to make cameo appearances throughout the season.
  • The Slitheen, one of the enemies to appear in this episode, also appeared in the previous story, The Gift. This is the only time in The Sarah Jane Adventures that an enemy appears in two successive stories.
  • Nightmare was the first episode to be novelised since the previous series' The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith. It contained several lines cut from the broadcast version that implied Luke may be gay, a subplot that CBBC and Russell T Davies were keen to expand on in the series had it continued.

Ratings Edit

to be added

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.
  • The Slitheen's fingernails change from being brown to green.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

  • This story was included in the Complete 4th Series DVD release (UK release: 31 October 2011; North American release: 6 December 2011).

Blu-ray releases Edit

  • This story was included in the Complete 4th Series Blu-ray release (UK release: 31 October 2011; not released in North America).

In both releases, the first episode is re-edited to include a dedication at the beginning to the memory of Elisabeth Sladen. This obviously was not part of the original broadcast, which occurred a number of months before she died.

External links Edit

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