As exclusively revealed in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, the late Elisabeth Sladen‘s daughter Sadie Miller has been cast as Sarah Jane Smith in upcoming Big Finish audio drama Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen.
Return of the Cybermen will be released as part of Big Finish‘s Lost Stories range, which has now been running for over ten years. This range sets out to bring to life Doctor Who stories which were originally written for the television series, but were never produced. This latest instalment in the range was first submitted all the way back in 1974 by Gerry Davis, and was intended for Tom Baker‘s first season as the Doctor. However, it went on to be substantially re-written by the series’ incumbent script editor Robert Holmes, eventually becoming Revenge of the Cybermen.
Now, Big Finish have set out to realise Davis‘ script as it was originally intended in their upcoming audio drama Return of the Cybermen. Tom Baker will reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor, who will be joined by his on-screen companions Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan. Originally portrayed by the late Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Marter respectively, these beloved characters will now be played in audio form by Sladen’s daughter Sadie Miller and Christopher Naylor.
Actor Sadie Miller has said: “When Big Finish asked me to play Sarah Jane for this story, I was very nervous. I didn’t want to create a performance from someone else’s.
“So I tried to approach it as I would with any other role. I’ve tried to find my own piece of Sarah – the part of my mum that’s in me. But I have had a quick look on YouTube for Sarah Jane Smith screams, because I wasn’t quite sure how she would want me to do those. Other than that I just tried to keep it as separate in my mind as possible from the original.
“The fans of Doctor Who have always been so kind and generous to me and to my family. It was always a part of my life growing up, I was never not aware of it. People have always been very kind in letting us come along for the ride really, through conventions and now things like Big Finish and, after mum passed away, the outpouring of love for her has been lovely.”
Senior Producer David Richardson added: “How do you recast Sarah Jane Smith? Would you even want to? Those were the questions that bothered us – we love the character. We loved Lis Sladen. We worried it might be too soon and too difficult to go there. But then we realised that part of Lis lives on in Sadie, and Sadie has beautifully brought that to the role of Sarah – we all approached this carefully, and respectfully, and with love and I couldn’t be happier with Sadie’s performance. She’s done her mum proud.
“Tom has actually worked many times before with Christopher Naylor, who’s played guest roles throughout different series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. Chris is a very versatile actor, so we can cast him in so many things. But, we realised, he’s also the perfect Harry. Again, it’s very hard to follow Ian Marter, but Chris has managed to do that and Tom was full of praise for what both Sadie and Chris have done. I wonder where they could pop up next?”
Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen is available to pre-order now exclusively from the Big Finish website, priced at £12.99 to download, or £14.99 as a collector’s edition two-disc box-set.
Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen is due for release in January 2021, exclusively on the Big Finish website.
Director: Nicholas Briggs
Producer: David Richardson
Written by: Gerry Davis, adapted by John Dorney
Executive Producers: Nicholas Briggs, Jason Haigh-Ellery
Big Finish listeners can save money by pre-ordering a bundle of forthcoming adventures from The Lost Stories range, including both Return of the Cybermen and The Doomsday Contract, from just £25.
Please note that Big Finish is currently operating a digital-first release schedule. The mailout of collector’s edition CDs will be delayed, but all purchases of this release unlock a digital copy that can be immediately downloaded or played on the Big Finish app from the release date.