K9 and Company (A Girl's Best Friend)

1981 | United Kingdom

To fill the longer-than-usual gap between seasons eighteen and nineteen of Doctor Who the BBC screened The Five Faces of Doctor Who, a series of repeats that featured each of The Doctor's incarnations (the first time a repeat was shown that didn't star the incumbent actor). The show's current producer, John Nathan-Turner, had also suggested to his BBC superiors, a spin-off programme (the first in the series history), featuring The Doctor's robotic computerised dog, K9, who had been dropped from the regular series in 1980. 

To give the would-be spin-off the best possible chance of success, Nathan-Turner also bought back one of fan's favourite companions from the show's history; Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elizabeth Sladen. Sarah, an intrepid reporter, returns from working for Reuters in the USA to visit her aunt Lavinia, but instead comes across Brendan, Lavinia's ward. Also in her aunt's house is a box sent by The Doctor. In it, she finds K9. When Brendan is kidnapped by a local coven of witches who want to use him in a sacrificial ceremony, it is up to Sarah and K9 to come to the rescue. The special was watched by a respectable 8.4 million viewers, but the option of a full series was never taken up. 

K9 finally returned to our screens in the post 2005 series of Doctor Who and finally got a full series, with full CGI graphic effects, in 2010. The series was made in Australia and aired on Disney XD - where it was best left.

Published on December 28th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.