Heartbreaking farewell to Doctor Who’s Sarah Jane Smith reveals two companions are now in a same-sex relationship
Last night Doctor Who fans were treated to a bittersweet surprise with a special lockdown episode bidding a final farewell to the actress Elisabeth Sladen.
Sladen was known to millions as Sarah Jane Smith, a classic Doctor Who companion who starred in the spin-offs K-9 and Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
On the ninth anniversary of Sladen’s death, former Who showrunner Russell T Davies penned a 15-minute audio epilogue depicting Sarah Jane’s funeral – and he threw in a few extra revelations for good measure.
Narrated by Jacob Dudman, the heartbreaking episode casually lists the guests from Sarah Jane and the Doctor’s past: “All smiling, all sad, all gathered to remember Sarah Jane.”
Among them are a “nice couple from Australia, Tegan and Nyssa” – two names that will be instantly familiar to any fans of classic Who.
Tegan and Nyssa journeyed aboard the TARDIS with Adric and the fifth Doctor between 1981 and 1983 (although as we all know, time can be extremely wibbly wobbly in this context).
Their adventures came to an end when, to Tegan’s horror, Nyssa elected to stay on a space station to help free the enslaved guards and turn the station into a hospital. Tegan herself left the TARDIS a year later after a traumatic battle with the Daleks.
Little else is known about the characters beyond this, but fans were overjoyed to learn that somewhere, somehow, they found each other again.
I’ll never shut up about Tegan and Nyssa being a couple, this is the greatest thing to ever happen
— morgan? (@shadowed_time_) April 19, 2020
Dr Who canon, boring: Nyssa went off to marry Some Bloke and also maybe died in E-Space or something
Russell T Davies, genius: Nyssa married Tegan and went to live with her in Australia, OBVIOUSLY
— MindProbe (@RefinedMicrobe) April 19, 2020
— radiantbaby (@radiantbaby) April 20, 2020
— Mrs McCrimmon (@mrsjmccrimmon) April 19, 2020
It is 1000% my head canon that the 5th Doctor didn’t realise Tegan and Nyssa being close; utterly oblivious. Something that continues with 6 and 7.
Only for the more human 8th Doctor, minutes after the TV movie ends, to just blurt out “OH MY GOD THEY WERE LESBIANS!”
— Miss Dimmeh Looming (@TheDimmeh) April 20, 2020
And there was even more LGBT+ representation in the form of Sarah Jane’s adopted son, Luke, who by the time of the funeral has come out as gay, and has been happily married to Sanjay for five years.
It’s the first canonical confirmation of Luke’s sexuality, which was a character development long planned by Russell T Davies had the series not ended with Sladen’s death.
Sanjay was intended to be introduced as Luke’s boyfriend, but unfortunately the reference never made it to the screen – until now.
“[Sarah Jane] is the one that told me that Sanjay was looking at me… in that way,” Luke says in the episode.
“And she’s the one who told me to go and talk to him. And now we’ve been married for five years. That’s the greatest gift she ever gave me.”
In 2019, Russell T Davies told journalist and Doctor Who aficionado Darren Scott that the original plans for Luke to come out as gay were dropped in the edit.
“It was flag waving, that makes us look bad,” he explained. “But then, amazingly, CBBC came to us saying, ‘Can you introduce a gay character into The Sarah Jane Adventures.‘
“I was like, ‘Yes, we can do this with Luke!’ Tommy Knight [the actor who played Luke] had left, he asked us to come back because he loved it. We said, ‘Are you happy to be gay in it?’ He said, ‘Not a problem at all.’
“And that was all lined up to happen and then the terrible event happened. That awful, awful death. Bless her. That’s sad, isn’t it? That’s still sad. Still to this day, every April I think of it. We’d have done so much with her. But what glorious times we had with her. That’s what you have to remember.”
The special epilogue came alongside a live tweetalong viewing of ‘The Stolen Earth’ and ‘Journey’s End’, two episodes of Doctor Who that crossed over with The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood.
So many Doctor Who fans tuned in to watch that the hashtag #SubwaveNetwork was trending at number one worldwide.
You can listen to the special lockdown episode, ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ below.