This weekend's countdown begins toward the Monday debut of the hour-long special The Sarah Jane Adventures. The episode, broadcast Monday 1 January from 4.50 to 5.50pm on BBC1/CBBC, is the pilot episode for a limited-run series that will air later in the year and brings Elisabeth Sladen back to the screen in the title role of Sarah Jane Smith, the role she was last seen as in the last Doctor Who season's episode "School Reunion".
Joining Sladen in the episode is Samantha Bond, best known as Miss Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan "James Bond" films and for her role in the series "Distant Shores," as Mrs. Wormwood, and Jamie Davies as Wormwood's henchman, Davey. Sarah Jane's young sidekicks in the episode are Yasmin Page as Maria, Porsha Lawrence Mavour as Kelsey and Thomas Knight as Luke. K9 (possibly voiced by John Leeson) is to be seen briefly in the special but will not be in the series to follow.
The episode is entitled Invasion of the Bane, and is written by Gareth Roberts and Russell T Davies. Davies and Julie Gardner executive produce; Phil Collinson and Matthew Bouch are the producers.
Below is the episode's press release, as well as a collection of photos from the episode, presented here as a teaser for the Monday airing; click on each for a larger version. (As always, all photos are copyrighted to the BBC and used solely to promote the episode.) Elisabeth Sladen -- Doctor Who's former sidekick -- is back as Sarah Jane Smith in a brand-new, fast-paced children's drama, created by Russell T Davies and from the makers of Doctor Who. The Sarah Jane Adventures ensures that children never look at fizzy drinks in the same way again...
Sarah Jane is fascinated by Bubbleshock, a strangely addictive organic drink that is taking the world by storm. She is almost oblivious to the arrival of her new neighbour, Maria, a young girl starting a new life with her father. Maria becomes intrigued by the strange goings on at Sarah Jane's house but, before she can investigate, she's whisked away by her new friend, Kelsey, to the brightly coloured, but sinister, Bubbleshock factory.
As Sarah Jane tries to find out what the mysterious Mrs Wormwood is doing at the factory, Maria and Kelsey embark on a tour which leads them into the path of a monstrous creature and a strange young boy with no name or past. When Sarah Jane and Maria discover the secret ingredient of Bubbleshock, they realise they are the only ones who can stop Mrs Wormwood and her evil plans for the human race.