The Roving Reporter was a piece of prose fiction published in DWMS Holiday 1992. Described in the table of contents as "a fictional look at the life of Sarah Jane Smith", it presented itself as an overview of the life of the notorious Metropolitan reporter drawn from a fictional in-universe biography of the character.
Not content to present a litany of references to preexisting Sarah Jane television stories (though it did contain its fair share of nods to Third Doctor and Fourth Doctor serials), the content of this in-universe biography provided a wealth of new information about the life and adventures of Sarah Jane.
Summary[edit | edit source]
Plot[edit | edit source]
American reporter Kevin W. Parker's unauthorised biography of Sarah Jane Smith was published a few years ago by Ainssell and Co. and is now out of print; said publisher allows, at long last, abridged fragments of the book to be reprinted in the form of a newspaper article.
The article recounts that Sarah Jane Smith was born in Liverpool on 1 February, 1956 to Nigel Collins Smith and Alice Trent Smith and orphaned in 1961. Six-year-old Sarah Jane thus becomes the ward of her virologist aunt Lavinia Smith, a "strong female figure" under whose care she grows up to be a bit of a tomboy, developing a coterie of odd friends and even learning to shoot a rifle from a peculiar old chap rumoured, but never proven, to have once been a poacher — as later recounted by Aunt Lavinia.
Sent to complete her schooling at Caterham School for Girls, she continues to prove herself "a bit of a maverick", disregarding any rules which she thinks don't make sense, though she also distinguishes herself both for her communicative skill and as the fastest hockey player in the school. At Liverpool University, she flirts with the ambitious Andrew Lofts, who is himself a journalist, though it is not to him that Sarah Jane would later credit her career choice, a choice which went against her aunt Lavinia's encouragements for her to get into science.
After graduating with full honors, she moves from internship to internship and city to city, often clashing with editors due to her feminist views, until she manages to talk her way into UNIT, her passage there well-remembered by such members of personnel as Michael Yates and John Benton. This period, during which she seems to have led "an exciting life", is sketchy and difficult to piece together, but seems to have ended in the spring of 1981 after the events surrounding the disablement of the Nunton Experimental Complex, an event which Parker speculates was connected to Sarah Jane's being hospitalised for some time in a nearby hospital after suffering an accident in a quarry.
After writing a three-page article for her editor-in-chief Percy Wollstonecraft which provided the public with its first look at UNIT, she resumes her regular journalistic work, writing pieces on such topics as nuclear power plant safety, extra-sensory perception, state-of-the-art robotics, and the possibility of alien life. After one last adventure which sees her tangle with a black magic coven in Christmas 1981, she settles down for good, writing a history of UNIT, Fighting for Humankind, published in late 1982, which is subject to censorship in much of its European release but remains a prime reference work on the subject of UNIT and regularly imported to Europe from the States.
A few years on, Sarah Jane starts writing what the public perceives as fantastically realistic science-fiction novels, with such titles as World War Skaro and The Monster at the end of Space, before moving on to some television work as a presenter in documentaries geared towards students on subjects which include the search of alien life and the dangers of pollution.
Asked what her plans for the future are, Sarah Jane Smith concludes that she has many, such as getting into the European Space Agency's journalist-in-space program. In the meantime, she maintains a home in South Croydon with a mechanical dog gifted to her by Dr John Smith ("no relation"), though she isn't there very much, as she continues traveling the world.
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Kevin W. Parker
- Sarah Jane Smith
- Nigel Collins Smith
- Alice Trent Smith
- Lavinia Smith
- Michael Yates
- John Benton
- Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
- Dr John Smith
- K9 Mark II
References[edit | edit source]
Individuals[edit | edit source]
- Nigel Collins Smith and Alice Trent Smith, Sarah Jane Smith's parents, died in a car accident.
- Sarah Jane's university sweetheart Andrew Lofts, who was a year ahead of her, dreamt of becoming a television journalist.
- Since Sarah Jane's time in UNIT, Michael Yates has left the armed forces and become a bit of a writer himself.
- A bashful John Benton admits that the first thing he noticed about Sarah Jane upon meeting her was what beautiful teeth she had.
Locations[edit | edit source]
- After finishing university, Sarah Jane Smith moved from Liverpool to Scarborough, where she spent a year, then spent two years in Manchester, and finally moved to London.
Organisations[edit | edit source]
- In 1983, Sarah Jane Smith created a series of articles exposing COBRA, a group of terorrists and arms dealers who had formed a network in Western Europe.
Continuity[edit | edit source]
- Incidents which Sarah Jane Smith was spotted at during her work with UNIT include "the 1979 evacuation of London", (TV: Invasion of the Dinosaurs) "some mysterious events at a monastery in Berkshire", (TV: Pyramids of Mars) the "downfall" of the Scientific Research Society, (TV: Robot) the accidents surrounding the North Sea oil rigs, (TV: Terror of the Zygons) the "surprising return" of Guy Crayford, (TV: The Android Invasion) the "peculiar happenings" near the estate of Harrison Chase (TV: The Seeds of Doom) and the "series of freak accidents" which disabled the Nunton Experimental Complex. (TV: The Hand of Fear)
- Shortly after retiring from active UNIT service, Sarah Jane was mixed up in some business with a black magic coven. (TV: A Girl's Best Friend)
Story notes[edit | edit source]
- As concerns the UNIT dating controversy, The Roving Reporter sticks to the chronology established in a previous UNIT Special, and established Sarah Jane Smith's birth date as 1956 and the "UNIT Era" as happening in the near future, with Terror of the Zygons happening in 1980. The other short stories included in the Special adhere to this timeline.
- The article makes reference to the G.I. Joe sci-fi universe in saying that Sarah Jane helped to uncover Cobra cells.