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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Carey
    October 7, 2013 @ 1:04 am

    Possibly because you're not British you may not have noticed it, but the casting of Phyllida Law underpins the entire theme of the calcification of memory, and especially in relation to nostalgia and tales of fantasy represented by 1970's children's tv programmes that adults adore. For while she is now mainly known, beyond her own acting career, as the mother of the actress Emma Thompson, for my generation (born in the late 60's) she will always be remembered as the partner of Eric Thompson, adapter and producer of The Magic Roundabout.

    The Magic Roundabout began life in 1964 as Le Manège Enchanté, a French stop motion animation children's show set in an enchanted forest, featuring a mix of characters that include a human girl, a dog, a snail, a cow and a jack-in-the box. The BBC decided to buy the programme in 1965, and asked actor and producer Eric Thompson to dub a new English soundtrack over the original but based solely on the visuals. Reasons for this are unclear: some versions state the original scripts weren't available, others that it was cheaper to buy the show without paying for the scripts, but the end result was British Psychedelic Whimsey at it's best, a children's entertainment that rivalled Alice In Wonderland and Doctor Who ath their best.

    It was initially scheduled nightly during weekdays just before the early evening news and directly after children's broadcasting, such as Blue Peter, and appealed to a surprisingly large adult audience who actually complained when The Magic Roundabout was moved earlier in 1972.

    Thematically the Magic Roundabout is linked to the Sarah Jane Adventures because, unlike Doctor Who, both revolve around their "star" to such an extent that they cannot exist without them: there have been several attempts to relaunch The Magic Roundabout, but much of its charm came from Eric Thompson's scripts and voices. Without them, the show cannot exist, and The Magic Roundabout, rather like Bea's memories, has faded over time. And so the same will happen with The Sarah Jane Adventures, which cannot last without Elisabeth Sladen.

    So ther's a quite nice theme in the story about how Bea's fate is Sarah Jane's, and that eventually all that Sarah Jane experienced will be forgotten. Although in her case she is lucky enough to have Luke, Maria and Clyde to continue her legacy, in the same way that Bea has Sarah Jane.

    Oh, and if you can, check out the 1970's Magic Roundabout movie, Dougal and the Blue Cat. I'm sure someone of distinction (I can't remember whether it was Mark Kermode or Charlie Brooker) has called it one of the most disturbing films ever made. It is a thing of genius, containing The Blue Voice, it's minion the Blue Cat that wants to turn the world Blue, the apotheosis of the love affair between Florence and Dougal; and Dougal's greatest challenge: can he survive undercover whle locked in a room full of his favourite drug, sugar? Genius.

    Check some out here:

    Eric Thompson and Elisabeth Sladen will both be missed.


  2. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 7, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

    Well this comment section is making a compelling case for doing more Sarah Jane Adventures…


  3. Josiah Rowe
    October 7, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

    I'm still enjoying the posts, even if I don't have anything to say about them. In other news, looks like you won't have any trouble finding a subject for this Tuesday's post… unless you feel you've already said it all in your "Doctor in Distress" piece.


  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 7, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

    Oh, lord, I'm not touching that topic again.


  5. Theonlyspiral
    October 7, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

    I…don't have anything to say. I like the SJAs more than Torchwood. They let me sit down and take joy in the world. That doesn't really provide much food for conversation.


  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 7, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

    I mean, I understand; notably, my minimum word count for SJA posts is 1500 words, not 2k, for exactly this reason.


  7. Theonlyspiral
    October 7, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    I try not to post unless I actually have something to say. Which is why I'm so quiet on Albion posts. Did this post get fewer page views?


  8. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 7, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    Yeah. I mean, it's not a big deal. I'll post regardless, and even a slow post does what, for many a blogger, would be marvelous numbers. I was just surprised, as nothing has generated quite this few comments in a while.


  9. jane
    October 7, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

    My nerd cred will take a hit from this, but… I've not seen most of the Sarah Jane Adventures. I'll have plenty to add when we get to "Whatever Happened…" as that has plenty of esoteric value.


  10. Ununnilium
    October 7, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

    I quite liked this story when I saw it and thought you made good points up there!


  11. Galadriel
    October 7, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

    This becomes the mechanism by which the dangers of the adult world and the world of children can be mediated: by telling stories across the gap. Doctor Who stories, in particular, of course.
    On a lesser level, I've seen that happen with my younger brother. With a nine-year-age-gap (and another brother in between). Doctor Who is one of the things that brings us together. We may enjoy it in different ways, but we can still sit down and enjoy it together.
    But yes, please keep making these posts. I really appreciate having a chance to discuss SJA with people. Do you think there's a thematic echo between this episode and season four's "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith?"


  12. elvwood
    October 8, 2013 @ 12:03 am

    OK, just for Philip I'll chip in. (Like others here, the lack of comments doesn't mean I'm not interested.)

    This was the first Who-related episode to scare my son. My daughter was got by The Idiot's Lantern (and refused to watch TV for a while), but Isaac was fine with everything until this one.

    It's really impossible to predict what will get to people – the first thing that freaked my daughter was The Land Before Time, which took me completely by surprise.

    Regarding the blog post, it's very insightful stuff but I will have to think about it more before I can say anything other than "keep 'em coming!"


  13. Anton B
    October 8, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    Only just got round to reading this but may I reiterate others' comments, just because we're silent on a particular post doesn't mean you should stop writing on that subject, merely that we have nothing constructive to add. perhaps we should just comment with 'applause' or 'bravo'. Also…I agree with Carey above re the casting of Phyllida Law and would suggest a post on The Magic Roundabout. It's interesting more for the urban myth of 'they must be on drugs/there's an adult subtext' which childrens entertainments are prone to be accused of. So there's a hook into Doctor Who right there which could possibly also a lead in to discussing other tea time stop frame animation shorts which seem to be unique to British TV. May I suggest Captain Pugwash ( itself the victim of a particularly…interesting…form of urban mythologising) and the Clangers (as enjoyed, infamously, by the Master).


  14. Alan
    October 8, 2013 @ 6:26 am

    I would point out that Bea's Alzheimer's subplot has more relevance to a children's show than one might thing. When an older person begins to show signs of dementia, often his grandchildren will be emotionally affected more than his children. For the grown children of an Alzheimer's patient, the patient's descent is painful to be sure. But for the grandchildren, it's also deeply frightening and traumatizing because children are less likely to understand what dementia is and less likely to get a proper explanation of the illness from grown-ups who "don't want to upset the child" or who are having their own issues with the declining elder which they don't wish to confront. Add to this the problem of someone who had previously been a comforting and reassuring figure suddenly not knowing who you are or even exhibiting violent tendencies in your presence, and suddenly dementia is more frightening than any Gorgon. I applaud SJA for even trying to introduce the concept of Alzheimers in a children's show in such a mature way.


  15. ferret
    October 8, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

    It may be a bit late to suggest this, but maybe we need a schedule similar to the ones put out for the New Adventures and Eight Doctor material. Will you be covering the K-9 series as well?

    I've suddenly realised how little I've seen of SJA, whereas up until now I've consumed everything in some form or another (be it original or novelisation). I've got some catching up to do if I want to be able to relate to your forthcoming posts!


  16. cmattg
    October 8, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

    I don't really have much to say, besides being certain they set this at a convent so they could make the "problem like Maria" joke.


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