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I thought I would review a spinoff episode today as opposed to a main Doctor Who episode; The Curse of Clyde Langer is not only from arguably the best Doctor Who spinoff so far The Sarah Jane Adventures but is also an absolute classic that would fit into the main show easily.
When Clyde (Daniel Anthony) pricks his hand on a totem pole during the visit to the Museum of Culture, everybody he knows turns against him apart from one - Sky (Sinead Michael). Clyde loses everything including a place to live and ends up living on the streets. This is a kid's programme yet it explores the adult topic of homelessness better than any primetime TV show; it is dealt with delicately and with quite a bit of heart, not afraid to shy away from some of the harsh ways the homeless must live. It's a sweet and touching story, helped by the introduction of homeless girl Ellie Faber (Lily Loveless) who quickly becomes a friend of Clyde's in a world where he has no friends. The ending is tragic too, as he
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returns to find Ellie after the curse has been resolved only to find she is no longer there
Daniel Anthony is absolutely at his best here; he gives a moving performance especially during the scene where his own mother (Jocelyn Jee Esien) kicks him out. You really feel sorry for him; Daniel Anthony was always the best child actor on The Sarah Jane Adventures and it shows here. Lily Loveless is also great as Ellie and as the audience you are left hoping she'll find a way out of her difficult situation. I like to think if it weren't for Elisabeth Sladen's tragic death and the show had continued that Ellie would have returned later down the line as she is a great character played by a great actor.
When I watched this at the time, there was also an episode of Coronation Street dealing with the same issue and it was nowhere near as effective. The Curse of Clyde Langer shows homeless people to be just like us, only in a more difficult and terrifying situation than any of us could possibly imagine. It's an important world issue and one that it was nice to see a CBBC show teach kids about; that was what was great about The Sarah Jane Adventures - it treated kids like adults who could deal with watching serious issues represented onscreen rather than clueless idiots who need everything spoon-fed to them (there are many shows that do the latter).
Simply put, The Curse of Clyde Langer is an absolute masterpiece and deals with the issue of homelessness in a sweet and touching way. Anyone should watch this episode not just Whovians as it is a great piece of television for kids and adults alike. It's worth watching just for Daniel Anthony, who gives a moving performance as someone whose friends have turned against him.