PURE GOLDER What Was So Normal About Sarah Jane Smiths Son?

So, Luke in The Sarah Jane Adventures was gay. Or at least, he would have been revealed to be if the show hadn’t been sadly cancelled following star Lis Sladen’s premature death. According to Blogtor Who his is one of the revelations on a commentary by the show’s creator, Russell T Davies, on the story “Death Of The Doctor” which will be released on next month's DVD release of “The Green Death” Special Edition.

“Tommy [Luke Smith] refers to his friend Sanjay,” says Davies during the commentary. “Now had we continued, Sanjay would have been Luke's boyfriend. Because children's BBC [CBBC] wanted to have – I've never said this in any interview anywhere – wanted us to have a gay character on children's BBC. Just a normal gay character.”

Davies also reveals that a line was cut from another episode that made the development even more explicit, though I don’t want to steal all of Blogtor Who’s thunder so click on the link to learn more.

However, while it’s a crying shame The Sarah Jane Adventures had to end in the way it did, this is one particular development I’m glad didn’t happen… No, Hang on. I haven’t suddenly developed homophobia. And I’m not even taking Daily Mail -style, “Will somebody think of the children!” stance. I think it’s great that CBBC wanted a “normal” gay character. But that’s the problem. Luke wasn’t normal.

He was an artificial life-form created by the Bane. He was an outsider struggling to fit in. He had trouble understanding human emotions. He didn’t have a belly button, if I remember correctly. Not really normal, by any means.

Now, Clyde Langer, he was normal, and loveable, and down-to-earth. Discovering he was gay would have been a very positive message. But making the “odd” character gay… wouldn’t that have just emphasised to children that there was something strange and different about being homosexual?

I’ve got hung up on reading too much into homosexual metaphors in sci-fi and fantasy before. I could have won a place in pseuds’ corner with some of the stuff I wrote about In The Flesh before I realised it was better not to think about it too deeply (especially since I loved the show, and thinking about it too deeply was taking the shine off the show – but it still bothers me that… NO! DON ’T THINK ABOUT IT!).

Which is fine, but for less open-minded youngsters, Luke would simply re-affirm that different is different. You’re homosexual because you’re not the same. Which kinda negates decades of homosexual awareness which has tried to highlight, “If you prick us do we not bleed; if we lift up our t-shirts, do we not have belly buttons.”

Maybe I’m overreacting again. And certainly if the show had continued, I would have lived with the development (and even have been a little impressed with CBBC for having the guts to do it). But I'd still have preferred it for the more obviously “normal” (in the sense of the word that CBBC clearly meant it) Clyde to come out.

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.