Most people have someone new move into the house across the street. But only in one of Sarah Jane Smith’s adventures would a new house move in! It’s a welcome relief from early morning bill-paying when the milkman drops his bottles in shock at the Victorian building replacing the O’Briens’ 1970s home. (Between this and the episode The Stolen Earth, it’s somewhat charming to know that Doctor Who‘s universe still has milkmen delivering retro glass bottles – and probably still using the milk float from The Green Death!)
Through the windows a still-modern interior can be seen, but it is slowly being replaced as two time periods crash together. Sarah Jane, Clyde, and Luke are more fascinated than worried – until Rani disappears, pulled through the opening chasm. Someone on the other side has vanished too, and it’s up to Sarah Jane and her Scooby gang to untangle time and put things right before history gets overwritten.
But they’ll have to do it without Mr. Smith. He’s been silenced by an escaped alien with the unreassuring name “DeathKillMassacre”. What has he got to do with this temporal anomaly, and can everything be restored before someone is stuck forever in the wrong era?
Because The Sarah Jane Adventures is the “kiddie show”, the plot won’t be allowed to be particularly complex, although it will have one or two mild twists to keep the story moving. I was happy to see that along with the mandatory aliens we also got time travel because that has been missing in the audio spinoffs. Considering that this all started with a Time Lord, it’s about time Sarah Jane got her own wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey plotline.
Elisabeth Sladen sounds like she’s enjoying herself, as always, particularly while doing the voice of “Deathie”. Unlike having to try to get the essence of her co-stars, the original characters let her cut loose and the alien characters even moreso. As a consequence, Deathie comes across as vibrantly real – and somewhat more accurate than her rendition of Clyde.
The Ghost House is a charming story, suitably enjoyable for Sarah Jane fans of any age.
The Ghost House (by Stephen Cole; read by Elisabeth Sladen) was released by BBC Audio in November 2008.