Okay so the big Doctor Who news of the last 24 hours is that Katy Manning will be turning up AS Jo Grant in the next season of Sarah Jane Adventures, WITH the Eleventh Doctor, in an episode written by RTD.
Wow. There’s just so much to unpack there, for a Classic Who fan.
Sarah Jane Smith and Jo Grant meeting for the first time! Sarah Jane and the Eleventh Doctor! A grown up Jo Grant! (unlike Sarah who returned three times before getting her own series, Jo hasn’t been seen on tv since she left in the mid 70’s)
All this plus the fact that Russell T Davies, who has left Doctor Who behind but is still in charge of SJA, is not only writing an episode for the show (I think his first?) but gets to write for the Eleventh Doctor, something no one saw coming. And, you know, gets to write Jo Grant’s post-Doctor existence into canon (cough, not that Doctor Who really has a canon, but you know what I mean).
There are many elements to be excited about in all this. I have to say, though, it’s all about the Jo for me. She was one of my favourite companions, and while she tends to get a bit of flak from modern Who fans, I stand by my love for her. She is in many ways the quintessential Doctor Who companion – sweet and earnest and a little bit feisty, but willing to hold the test tubes and tell the Doctor how brilliant he is. It may sound like the cliched ideal of the companion, but on the other hand… I’m pretty sure she’s actually the only one who played that role in that way!
Also, she was cute as hell, with adorable outfits, and while I enjoyed Liz Shaw and Sarah Jane’s seasons, it is Jo who really brought out the best in Jon Pertwee as the Doctor. Who happens to be my favourite Doctor. It always surprises me to see Jo written off as ditzy – she was clumsy on occasion (though only notably in her introductory scenes with the Doctor and then later with Cliff), but she was also smart and had plenty of tricks up her striped sleeves, which she had picked up in her spy training.
I’m really keen to see future Jo! I want to have some idea of the life she had – my theory that she might be the mother of Ianto Jones was sadly knocked on the head by the family background we were given in Children of Earth (seriously, hippie parents up the Amazon would have explained so much about him), so what has she been up to all these years? I would be delighted enough to see Sarah Jane and Jo team up, but pairing them with the Eleventh Doctor is really intriguing.
One of my first reactions to Matt Smith’s blatant youth was ‘well there’s no way they’ll bring Donna back now, damn it, she’ll just look like his Mum.’ But now, having seen a bit of him inhabiting the role of the Doctor, I’m really excited by the thought of him teaming up with two women in their 60’s, former companions who have been busily filling their lives since they left him. How brilliant that the team are confident enough in Matt’s performance that they’re not shying away from a challenge like that!