If our son has any genuine fear of clowns, it’s news to us. Other than getting creeped out by the clowns in the Doctor Who serial “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” a year ago, he’s never said a word about them as far as we can recall. But he spent the first episode of this story muttering unhappily and letting out an occasional stage whimper as Bradley Walsh comes and goes in a flash of color and the blink of an eye. And speaking of eighties Doctor Who, this story, written again by the great Phil Ford, was directed by Michael Kerrigan, who had directed the serial “Battlefield” just a few months after “Greatest Show” had aired.
Apart from being a tremendously fun and creepy hour, with, admittedly, an incredibly convenient resolution, “The Day of the Clown” is a lovely little nexus point for the actors in the Who world. Walsh, of course, has played the companion Graham in the most recent two series of Who, and he got to work again with Anjli Mohindra in this year’s “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror.” Mohindra tells a hilarious anecdote about how Walsh did not recognize her under her space alien prosthetics and makeup which you should go and read, but in fairness to Walsh, I enjoyed her in the next several years of SJA very much and had no idea that was her as Queen Skithra either. And I just read now that Mohindra’s been dating Sacha Dhawan, the current Master, for the last few years. Small universe!
So yes, this is Anjli Mohindra’s first adventure as Rani Chandra, the new girl across the road from Sarah Jane. She’s fun and wonderful and if you remember how the Doctor Who forums in 2008 were all babbling about how the character was called Rani and you thought it was only silly grownups who wondered whether this Rani was the same as the Doctor’s old enemy the Rani, the name tripped up our son as well. “Did she say… Rani?” he asked, eyes wide. Had to pause for the confusion.
For what it’s worth, I like Rani Chandra just fine and am very, very glad this wasn’t some stunt of Russell T. Davies’s to drop a bombshell on Bannerman Road. But I am also just fine with one day the Rani escaping the Time War and regenerating herself into a sixteen year-old girl in a London suburb.