After months of preparation, The Attic: A Sarah Jane Adventures Reunion proved to be a huge success.
This event saw fans from all over the UK and even further afield come to Cardiff to celebrate the show. It was all for a good cause too. The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice is in fact only a short distance along the Welsh coast from Sarah Jane Smith’s house and the Bannerman Road filming location. The event also served as a fitting tribute to the late Elisabeth Sladen.
Any worries that the CBBC show, which finished in 2011, wouldn’t draw the crowds were quickly dispelled. Tickets sold out in advance. With the event at full capacity queues were unfortunately inevitable. I’m sure the same was true for those at LFCC over the weekend too. What was different however was a fantastic spirit. Everyone appreciated the uniqueness of the event and entered into the celebratory atmosphere. The love for the Sarah Jane Adventures is clearly still there.
Central to the momentous nature of the event was a reuniting of series regulars Tommy Knight, Anjli Mohindra, Yasmin Paige and Sinead Michael. Sadly Daniel Anthony was unable to attend due to work commitments. But the remaining four actors to play Sarah Jane Smith’s companions were in attendance. All of them had beaming smiles throughout the day whether posing for the photo shoots, signing autographs or at a panel session. They also took great delight in seeing some of their original costumes on display at the event.
A number of other guests joined the young actors at the event. Katy Manning, who reprised her role as Jo Grant/Jones in the series, was her usual fabulous self, giving out hugs to any and everyone. Similarly lovely and approachable was Mina Anwar who had played Gita Chandra. Other actors also present included Paul Marc Davies (The Trickster), Richard Wisker (George in ‘Lost in Time’) and Cheryl Rowlands (A nun in ‘Eye of the Gorgon’). All of whom enthusiastically shared their experiences working on the show during the panels.
Contributors to the show from behind the camera also sharing their memories of the Sarah Jane Adventures included composer Sam Watts, script editor Gary Russell and writers Joe Lidster and Phil Ford. Serving as host and interviewer for the Q&As was Christopher Johnson, presenter for CBBC. Two surprise guests also brought along a familiar friend. Visual Effects supremo Mat Irvine was joined by the voice of the metal mutt John Leeson. Accompanying the pair was K9 himself, still fully functioning and delighting fans of all ages.
Although Elisabeth Sladen is sadly no longer with us her husband Brian Miller, who also appeared in the series, joined attendees and was able to experience the outpouring of love for the show that she led.
Fun and Games
In a twist to the usual convention offerings a mockup of Foxgrove Village Fete was created within the Great Hall. This played host to cast members competing in egg and spoon, sack and space hopper racing. Replica creators also brought along impressive recreations of the TARDIS, K9, Davros, an Ice Warrior and a Sea Devil. An equally accomplished Shansheeth was also walking around the venue, spooking guests and chuckling about it. Costumes from the series were displayed by the Made in Wales Exhibition, many for the first time ever on public display. With the exception of one replica, all of the costumes had been worn by cast members during production. This included outfits worn by Elisabeth Sladen herself.
A number of exclusive pieces of merchandise were available including postcards, artwork and Bannerman Road mugs. Guests could also order a copy of the official event film. One particularly unique piece was a photobook filled with behind the scenes images captured by Sandy Knight, event organiser and mum of Tommy. Some unique items were also available for bidding during a silent auction. These included items owned by Elisabeth Sladen, donations from Tommy Knight and a framed poster which once hung in the production office. One particular individual, determined to secure a photomontage canvas, also fully embraced the charitable nature of the event with a generous bid that will go to the Ty Hafan hospice.