As the BBC 3 Doctor Who spin-off “Class” made it’s way to Netflix I couldn’t help but think about the Doctor Who spin-off that should have happened.
Class itself was perfectly fine, a series surrounding the sixth form students at Coal Hill sixth form college and their fight against the Shadow Kin, a group of aliens that want to get to the prince hiding out at the school. However it was doctor who adjacent rather than part of the universe in the same way Sarah Jane and Torchwood were a part of Doctor Who’s world before and after that their respective spin-offs. In my opinion that’s why it didn’t work, Class could have retained a lot of the same characters and storylines if it was about a haunted boarding school or magic academy instead of aliens.
Young Adult feels like a natural step for the Doctor Who franchise however as it’s most fervent fans occupy the 13-18 demographic the show itself had to honour them and their love of the show. For me, this left a natural successor…
Between 2007-2011 a program called ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ featuring the iconic Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elisabeth Sladen. Accompanying Sarah Jane Smith was her young neighbours, Rani, Luke and Clyde, oh and K9
The Sarah Jane Adventures bridged together the two worlds of ‘old’ doctor who and new doctor who. Reappearing in David Tennant’s stint in ‘School Reunion’ even watching it as a child it was easy to recognise this was a woman of great importance to the series, she was effortlessly weaved into the tapestry of the new show.
The show itself was suited for its young audience with the younger characters being integral to every 30-minute episode of the five season show. Sarah Jane, the journalist sniffing out alien activity from her London home while presenting a normal face to her neighbours was an ultimately fantastic show
The young character dynamic resembled the Harry Potter trio of the chosen one, the goofy best friend and the smart girl and the show itself regularly integrated itself into the Doctor Who plot.
Of course, The Sarah Jane Adventures ended with the death of Elisabeth Sladen, her death was a great loss to us all but the legacy she left behind, especially in the doctor who community was truly amazing.
Yet in the world of the show, there were three young characters left adrift with knowledge of aliens and no anchor, these felt like the characters we should have witnessed at sixth form or possibly university. As a show that managed to retain an audience through a sixty year time period, it wouldn’t have been too hard to introduce a new audience to these kids.