Sarah Jane Adventures star Liz Sladen chats about working with children, playing a lizard and her husband’s guest appearance in the new series!

Can you reveal what happens in the opening episodes of the new series?
“Well it’s a two-parter where the Judoon crash land on earth. Doctor Who fans will be aware of the Judoon but we’ve not had them on the Sarah Jane Adventures before. I’m really pleased they’ve come into the series.”

What are they like?
“They’re rhinoceros-like creatures and are quite sensational! You hear them before you see them. It’s like being at a horse track – all you can hear are their hooves approaching. I thought it was a thunderstorm the first time I heard it!”

What’s the premise of the story?
“The Judoon are carrying a dangerous alien prisoner called an Androvox. This new monster is very lizard-like. He’s scaly and has a snake-like tongue. When the ship crashes he escapes and we’ve to join forces with the Judoon to try and capture him because he’s set on a path of total destruction.”

Can you tell us anything else about the story without giving too much away?
“Rani’s mum and dad become involved in this storyline. They’re taken prisoner and think they’re having an out of body experience when they see things they’ve never seen before. It’s very funny!”

Have you enjoyed filming the new series?
“The third series has been a lot freer for my character and me. I know the ropes now and the kids know the ropes and so there’s a kind of lighter feeling – that we can handle it.”

Is there more of a rapport with you and the rest of the cast now because you know each other better?
“Each time you come back you’re returning to something you left just a while back but haven’t stopped thinking about. The gang get on very well together and are very supportive of each other and they put up with me! It’s a really nice environment.”

So you don’t subscribe to the adage ‘never work with children’?
“You think you’re going to have to work with kids who will be the spawn of the devil. At that age they’ve got a lot to cope with, if it’s not schoolwork, it’s hormones. And I’m at the other end of the spectrum with hormones! But these children are lovely people who you want to be with. They also bring a lot to the series. They’re good together and it shows I think. We’ve an incredible team.”

We know that the Androvox can inhabit bodies and takes over Sarah Jane, was that fun to do?
“It was gift to be able to play with something like that. You’ve got a bit of Sarah Jane fighting to come out of this powerful creature with an evil intent. It was so much fun to play something that’s lizard-like and so mean! And I get a huge forked tongue. I love this series – it’s really funny but also has a lot of suspense.”

How do you prepare to play something like that?
“I looked at the script and kind of heard the voice of the Androvox. I painted a picture from there of how it would move, act and sound.”

Are there any guest stars in this series?
“There are two episodes with David Tennant and Nigel Havers. David arrives to rescue my character before she marries Nigel’s character! My husband Brian Miller is in episodes three and four. My first job was with him, but we hadn’t worked together in a while. It was great and now he knows how hard I work!”

*The new series of the Sarah Jane Adventures starts on Thursday at 4.35pm on BBC1*