October 17-18 2021 marks ten years since the original broadcast of The Man Who Never Was, the final story of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the series having to come to an end due to the death of Lis Sladen.
This left three stories that was intended to complete this season being unmade.
The Man Who Never Was is written by Gareth Roberts. This marks a full circle as Roberts had co-written the series’ first story Invasion of the Bane.
Prior to its broadcast, this story was reported to have the working title of The Man Who Wasn’t There.
Incidentally The Man Who Wasn’t There was later used as the name of a Big Finish Short Trip in 2016 with the Eighth Doctor and Charley.
The Man Who Never Was guest stars Peter Bowles. Bowles is a legendary actor who finally made his way into the Whoniverse in The Man Who Never Was.
Coincidentally the day before the first episode of this story came out in 2011, Bowles celebrated his 75th birthday on October 16.
Another guest star is James Dreyfus. Dreyfus was later cast by Big Finish as the first incarnation of the Master (chronologically speaking).
Although The Man Who Never Was is credited to Gareth Roberts, it began its life as a script by series creator Russell T. Davies when he submitted it for the second season of Bugs (1995-99) but was turned down by that series’ production team.
As Davies has often says, nothing is ever wasted.
The Man Who Never Was has Luke returning home from university and finally meeting his new sister Sky.
As mentioned before The Man Who Never Was bookends Invasion of the Bane due it both being written or co-written by Gareth Roberts.
There is also another bookend to this as both stories have been about a hotly demand product which is the invention of aliens. Invasion of the Bane had Bubble Shock and for The Man Who Never Was it is the SerfBoard.
Sarah Jane decides to have a family outing with Luke and Sky by taking them to the demonstration of the SerfBoard.
The SerfBoard is a very advanced laptop that as stated before, became hotly in demand. Rani even jokes about replacing Mr Smith with the SerfBoard.
The SerfBoard is named after its creator Joseph Serf (Mark Aiken). The name Joseph Serf was a pseudonym used by Patrick McGoohan when he directed The Prisoner episodes Many Happy Returns & A Change of Mind.
Incidentally Bowles himself was a guest star in The Prisoner in another episode A. B. and C. playing one of the episode titular characters A.
Serf turned out to be a hologram but viewers who saw the Next Trailer to this at the end of the previous story The Curse of Clyde Langer would not have been surprised by this as that very fact was included in that trailer.
However what came as a surprise is that the aliens which control hologram Serf are aliens (who are revealed to be called Skullions in the concluding episode) with upside down faces marking the series’ final cliffhanger.
The concluding episode revealed the real villain of the piece is John Harrison (Dreyfus), the PR of Serf Systems and that the real Joseph Serf was killed in a skiing accident.
Harrison then ran Serf Systems using the hologram Serf as a puppet.
Harrison uses the hologram Serf by controlling the Skullions with torture collars on their necks.
It also revealed that the SerfBoard is a con with Harrison saying that it is rubbish.
This scheme is definitely one that the Master would have done.
This scheme gets foiled with the Skullions being freed from Harrison’s captivity and exposing the fraud that is the SerfBoard.
The story and the series ends with the montage of previous stories.
This included clips of the Tenth Doctor, Maria and K9 while the Eleventh Doctor can be seen in a clip from Death of the Doctor but from his backside and you can hardly see him.
A clip of Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane was used as her last shot which led to this line on-screen:
“And the story goes on….Forever”
Russell T. Davies later brought her story to an end in Farewell, Sarah Jane in 2020 on the ninth anniversary of her passing on April 19.
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