For the final series release of The Sarah Jane Adventures, fans have been treated to a documentary - a first for the DVD range of the Doctor Who spin~off series. Goodbye Bannerman Road: Remembering Elisabeth Sladen is a twenty~minute tribute to the late actress featuring Daniel Anthony (who played Clyde Langer), Anjli Mohindra (Rani Chandra), Gary Russell (Script Editor) and Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor).
Even as the film starts, the mood is incredibly emotional with newly shot footage of Sarah Jane's house as it stands today accompanied by a moving soundtrack. Daniel and Anjli are interviewed outside their old stomping~ground and it's clear from their stories that Lis meant a great deal to them; and still does. The former refers to the actress as a "lovable headmistress" though, interestingly, goes on to discuss her insecurities.
Matt is usual ebullient self when chatting about Sladen's immense career, expressing his admiration for an actress who came back into Doctor Who and then managed the feat of walking away with her own show. He laments her loss, saying: "... to get her on Doctor Who would have been a dream". Similarly writer Gary Russell, also a close friend of Lis, was effusive about the actress though, for no moment, was tempted to continue the television series without her. Again, the attention to detail, filming Russell in Sarah Jane's house was a nice touch.
Another appreciated addition, though deeply upsetting at the same time, was the reaction to her death on chilren's show, Newsround; where Daniel and Tommy Knight (who played Sarah Jane's "son", Luke) read out comments from thousands of young people who had contacted the website. Simple, yet astonishing in just how Lis affected the young and old.
Taking all the care and attention that the "classic" Doctor Who DVD range receives, Chris Chapman, who has made some terrific documentaries for the aforementioned range (including, most recently, the wonderful Looking For Peter on The Sensorites), has produced a loving tribute to a well~loved actress. Goodbye Bannerman Road, with its close collection of interviewees and meaningful location work, is a warm, yet all too brief, feature that will undoubtedly leave an impression of a great, great lady; despite the incredibly sad nature of the film.
Further credit must also go to 2|entertain for including such a magnificent tribute, especially as the Fifth Series release has had a much quicker turnaround than previous series releases (indeed, plaudits to the producers for getting this documentary together in such a short space of time; a matter of weeks, I believe).
Goodbye Bannerman Road is a perfect reminder of what made The Sarah Jane Adventures so very special - Sarah Jane herself, Elisabeth Sladen.
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