|'The Day of the Clown'
by Phil Ford
Sarah’s attempts to hold back Odd Bob with a fire extinguisher have no effect: the evil clown is unfazed, taking cruel pleasure in feasting on his victims’ fears. However, the sound of Rani’s mobile ringtone heralding a call from her mother causes the alien to suddenly freeze – the phone’s electromagnetic frequency has disrupted his power. Hastily unlocking the door with her sonic lipstick, Sarah bundles her friends into her car and drives them back home to safety. When Sarah offers Rani the chance to join in her adventures the schoolgirl happily accepts, and it isn’t long before she is marvelling at the alien gizmos on display in Sarah’s attic, and listening to Luke’s revelation that he, his mother and Clyde have saved the world twelve times. Sarah consults Mr Smith and learns that between 1932 and 1940, the disappearances of numerous children in America were attributed to a travelling clown known as Odd Bob – events that echo the legend of the Pied Piper, who abducted the children of Hamlin after their parents failed to pay him for ridding the town of a plague of rats. Scanning one of the museum tickets Mr Smith is able to detect traces of alien energy, which match those on record in Wesserbagland, Germany, where a meteorite fell to Earth in 1283 – exactly one year prior to the appearance of the Piper. As Rani guesses that the rock brought the clown with it, Mr Smith advises that the meteor is currently in the UK on loan from the University of Munich… Sending Rani home with a portable alien force field to protect her from Odd Bob, Sarah begins researching clowns on the internet; she also tells Luke the reason for her fear of clowns: when she was a child, following the death of her parents, she lived with her aunt Lavinia, where she had a clown marionette in her room; one stormy night, Sarah saw the toy inexplicably move of its own accord; terrified, Sarah cried out for her late parents, the only time in her life she ever did so, and although her aunt explained away the doll’s movement as a trick of the light, Sarah was never convinced… The next morning Sarah heads for the Pharos Institute to see Professor Rivers, who is overseeing research on the meteorite. In debt to Sarah for keeping her institute’s involvement in the Slitheen incident out of the papers**, the professor allows Sarah to take a sample of the meteor for research. However, as Sarah uses her sonic lipstick to remove the fragment, Spellman materialises before her and then transforms into Odd Bob; Sarah vows to find out who he really is, but the clown just laughs, and, after referring to the marionette that terrified Sarah as a child, promises that he will chill the blood of the nation, and bring fear to a thousand families. Before Sarah can learn more, Professor Rivers returns, causing Odd Bob to vanish into thin air… Luke, Clyde and Rani arrive at Park Vale School just in time to see dozens of red balloons fall from the sky into the hands of their fellow schoolchildren: as each child grabs a balloon their eyes glaze over – they are now under Spellman’s control. The hypnotised children walk out of the school grounds, heading en masse for ‘Spellman’s Magical Museum of the Circus’. Returning home, Sarah learns from Mr Smith that the meteorite originated in the Gigorabax Cluster, a distant region of space inhabited by energy-based entities that feed on fear. Sarah then receives call from Luke, who tells her of the mass school walkout. Jumping into her car, Sarah soon joins Luke, Clyde and Rani as they walk ahead of the crowd of mesmerised children; they quickly arrive at the museum, where a triumphant Spellman is eagerly waiting. Sarah confronts the evil ringmaster, but Spellman just laughs… until every child’s phone suddenly rings out – at Sarah’s instructions, the ever-resourceful supercomputer Mr Smith has accessed school records, obtained each pupil’s phone numbers and is now calling them all! The furious Spellman can only watch as his victims are shaken out of their traces, letting go of the balloons that control them. Sarah is overjoyed – until Spellman suddenly vanishes, taking Luke with him. Rushing inside to rescue her son, Sarah uses her sonic to lock the doors behind her, keeping Clyde and Rani from following her into danger. Making her way through the creepy museum, Sarah soon enters a Hall of Mirrors, where she is taunted by the distorted images of Odd Bob as he feeds off his victim’s fear for her son; however, the resourceful reporter grits her teeth, and uses her sonic lipstick to smash a mirror to reveal a hidden door. Clyde and Rani slip inside the museum with the aid of an unopened window and arrive on the scene just as Sarah faces Odd Bob, who reveals that he is holding Luke in-between worlds, along with the rest of the children he has taken over the years. After Sarah realises that if Odd Bob were to cease to exist, then all his recent abductees would be freed, Rani deduces that laughter can beat the clown; Clyde bravely steps forward and begins telling bad jokes; his gags quickly dispel Sarah’s fears, and as she begins to laugh, her amusement is echoed by the voices of the Pied Piper’s other captives. With his powers weakening, Odd Bob transforms back into Spellman. Discovering that the meteorite fragment in her pocking is now glowing, Sarah uses the rock’s power to force Spellman to revert into his energy state, drawing him inside the stone and trapping him within. With Spellman defeated, Luke suddenly reappears, much to Sarah’s relief. Some time later, as Luke, Clyde and Rani relax with Sarah in her attic, they learn from Mr Smith that all of the abducted children have now been reunited with their parents. After Sarah places the meteor fragment safely inside an impregnable metal box, Rani heads outside and rejoins her concerned parents; Mr Chandra tries to blame the mass exodus of his school on a prank instigated by Clyde, but Rani comes to her friend’s rescue, telling her father that she, Clyde and Luke had been at the library all day. As Clyde and Luke accept Gita’s invitation to join her family for tea, Sarah heads back to her house for a well-earned rest…
Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Thomas Knight (Luke Smith), Daniel Anthony (Clyde Langer), Alexander Armstrong (Mr Smith [Voice]), Jem Brownlee (Dave Finn), Aaron Shosanya (Tony Warner), Bradley Walsh (Odd Bob / Elijah Spellman / The Pied Piper), Anjli Mohindra (Rani Chandra), Huw Higginson (Mr Cunningham), Elijah Baker (Steve Wallace), Ace Bhatti (Haresh Chandra), Mina Anwar (Gita Chandra), Alan Ruscoe (Clown), Sean Palmer (Clown) Floella Benjamin (Professor Rivers)
Directed by Michael Kerrigan
Produced by Matthew Bouch
Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner
A BBC Wales production
13th October 2008 @ 5.15pm
20th October 2008 @ 4.35pm on BBC 1
*Featuring Sarah Jane Smith, Luke, Clyde, Rani and Mr Smith
**See the events of ‘The Lost Boy’
*One of the clown pictures on Sarah's laptop is Clara, from the 'Doctor Who' story, 'The Celestial Toymaker'