The very best decision that the Who production staff of the time – Russell T. Davies, Phil Collinson, and Julie Gardner – made might have been commissioning Phil Ford to write the lion’s share of The Sarah Jane Adventures. The previous two stories were certainly entertaining, if a little heavy on the kid-friendly gak, but “Eye of the Gorgon” is on another level and extremely good. I often said that this program was as good as and occasionally better than Who, and never, ever fumbled like Who sometimes does. Ford’s a big reason why. He has a perfect touch for the show. His scripts are both witty and dramatic and often have some light continuity references. Playful but serious. This story has some sinister nuns in service to a three thousand year-old space monster, which is really the sort of thing we watch Who for in the first place.
It also has a remarkably interesting supporting character, Bea Nelson-Stanley, played by Phyllida Law. When she was younger, she and her late husband Edgar were archaeologists and they came up against aliens on at least two occasions: they battled both the Gorgons – the space monsters of this adventure – and the Sontarans, whom Sarah Jane had met a couple of times. Two things strike me as worth mentioning about Bea: first, it’s a really sympathetic portrayal of somebody suffering from Alzheimer’s. Second, Chris Chibnall should totally commission Phil Ford to write a story where our current Doctor meets up with Edgar and Bea in the 1950s. I think there’s a beautiful history there that I’d love to see.