When The Sarah Jane Adventures returns to BBC1 for a second series, there’ll be a new face in the regular cast. It’s GCSE year for young actress Yasmin Paige (Maria Jackson), so she’s bowing out. But Sarah Jane’s Scooby gang won’t be short-handed, since new girl Anjli Mohindra is stepping into the breach as Rani Chandra, who moves into the Jacksons’ old house with her parents (pictured left).
SFX went on set in Penarth recently to speak to the cast. Here’s what Anjli had to say for herself:
On joining the cast:
“It’s been really great, because sometimes when you come into a show everyone’s already all tight in a performed group and you feel a bit intimidated but absolutely not at all. I completely feel part of the team, and it’s just fantastic coming into a group of mates that are already formed but welcome other people in as friends.”
On when her character joins the series:
“Fairly near the start, after saying farewell to the third sidekick, I kind of have a bit of a nosey into the lives of the world-saving team and kind of butt my way in!”
On whether she’s seen the series before:
“Well, it is a lot younger than my age range because I’m 18, but I have seen it on TV a few times and got a lot more into it as I found about the auditions. At first I didn’t actually know how popular it was, until you watch a bit more and hear a lot more people talking about it, and you go onto the website and there’s forums and loads of stuff going on around it. But yeah, I thought it was great, because with children's TV it’s normally quite patronising, but not with this at all. There’s no ‘moral of the day’ at the end of every story, it’s just completely the same as Doctor Who, and adults can watch it as well, which I thought was great.”
On whether Rani is similar to Maria:
“The only similarity that she has is that she’s a girl, really, and she lives in the same house, and that’s about as far as it goes. In personality terms I don’t think they’re that similar, apart from they’re both quite strong-willed, but I think there’s a lot less tears from Rani than there were from Maria. I think her relationship with Sarah Jane is a lot different as well. I think with Rani she’s very much an apprentice of Sarah Jane, which is a really nice relationship, I think. But it does take some getting use to because at first you’ll find that Sarah Jane is not really that interested in taking on another child.”
“She’s kind of shadowing Sarah Jane a lot. And you’ll see that if there’s a moment where she doesn’t quite know how to attack a situation, whether to be quiet, whether to be scared, worried, or to be strong, she’ll always watch Sarah Jane. If Sarah Jane goes in being really bolshy, you’ll see a few seconds later she’s up there as well. She’s just really into her fighting - not fighting physically, but fighting mentally! She’s quite strong, really strong-willed. And she’s a girl between two guys at times, which is nice.”
On her favourite story of the season:
“I like the ending, because we’ve got a really nice combination of monsters in that one. And it’s not just one monster either – we’ve got two different monsters, who unite and form an evil pair, so that’s a good one!”
Interviewer: Ian Berriman
The Sarah Jane Adventures returns to BBC One in late September. Issue 174 of SFX (in shops now) includes an interview with the producer about the new series, while issue 175 will include an interview with Elisabeth Sladen.