Sarah Jane Smith was one of the Doctor’s most popular companions, appearing in the last Jon Pertwee season and in two of a half of Tom Baker’s. Eventually, it was decided that Sarah Jane would have her own Christmas special spin-off-along with another former companion, the robot dog K-9, although a different model from the two that accompanied the Doctor.
The special was a bit odd, with an opening that mainly featured Sarah drinking wine and jogging while K-9 sat on stuff, blinked his lights and sang his name.
The special mainly dealt with Sarah Jane and K-9 facing off against a group of cultists, a sort of Doctor Who staple. That’s pretty much it.
However, like Doctor Who itself, Sarah Jane got a second chance with the Doctor Who story “School Reunion” where the Doctor reunited with Sarah.
The success of the episode led to another special, “Invasion of the Bane” in which Sarah not only gains some teen friends from her neighborhood, but also an adopted son, Luke, a creation of an alien race. Together, they would face off against alien villains and mysteries. This in turn led to a series, aimed at a slightly younger audience than Doctor Who. K-9 would also appear, but not in too many stories.
The most visible teens on the show, apart from Luke were his classmates Clyde and Rani (no relation to the villain).
The show tied in somewhat with Doctor Who, featuring Doctor Who villains the Slitheen:
and the alien she made her debut with back in the Third Doctor story The Time Warrior, the clone warriors known as the Sontarans:
As well as other foes, most notably the Trickster, who tried to mess with time:
In addition, some familiar faces from Doctor Who showed up-in his final appearence, Brigadier Lethbridge Stuart (sadly, not alongside the Doctor before his death):
Her predecessor Jo Grant:
and the Doctor of course, not once, but twice. First in the Wedding of Sarah Jane, where Sarah falls into a trap set by the trickster and it’s up to the Doctor to save his former companion from it, which is false wedding:
and then, in “Death of the Doctor” where she teams up with Jo when it appears the Doctor has died (He hasn’t, it’s just an alien plot), except this time it’s his eleventh self:
Unfortunately, Sladen passed away of cancer in April 2011, bringing an end to the show which had starred her. 😦
There’s two other Doctor Who spin-offs-Class and K-9 adventures. “Class” only recently aired and I haven’t seen it yet unfortunately, as it’s yet to have an American broadcast. K-9 is another one developed for Disney in Australia, it’s supposed to be not that great, and isn’t as connected to the main Doctor Who series as Torchwood and Sarah Jane were (mainly due to rights issues).