Skilled at hand to hand combat. Nerves of steel. A fast draw with a blaster. Fiercely loyal to Mavic Chen, Guardian of the Solar System. Some might say she was the most dangerous and cold hearted agent in existence. She proved it when she shot down her only brother, merely because he was under suspicion for treason. Such was her blind devotion to the Guardian.
Sara Kingdom’s eyes were eventually opened as she learned the truth about Chen’s betrayal and the Daleks’ Master Plan. Then, during her time spent with the First Doctor and Steven Taylor, she warmed slightly, and showed herself to be a capable companion. This was a strong character from the year 4,000, and would have made an ideal companion for the First Doctor. Unfortunately, the battle and tech savvy futuristic wonder woman got tossed away as quickly and easily as Katarina, the primitive, superstitious handmaiden from the Fall of Troy. And it all happened in the same story.
That might seem like a waste of potentially good characters. But the production of the serial that manufactured Sara’s fate was very unusual behind the cameras.
The atmosphere on the set of The Daleks’ Master Plan started out tense. New producer, John Wiles and script editor, Donald Tosh were both far more interested in pouring their energies into the stories that came directly before and after the 12 part epic. They felt that The Myth Makers and The Massacre at St. Bartholomew’s Eve, as purely historical adventures, had more potential and deserved much more care and attention. Wiles felt that the Daleks’ Master Plan was this immovable rock set in the sea of his era, which had to be worked around. It was a three month production that represented half his time there.
So the producer of the show just shoved it onto writer, Dennis Spooner, who basically shepherded the serial through its production. Spooner also took care of the lion’s share of the writing, as primary scribe, Terry Nation was hardly involved. By Tosh’s account, Nation dropped by his house one night and quickly handed him a six-page write up to cover the first six episodes and took off. Not really enough actual material to cover one full episode. It’s not clear how involved Tosh was in the production early on, before also relinquishing all writing duties to Spooner.
So with the producer, script editor, and original writer out of the picture, it was Spooner’s baby. Wiles and Tosh were working attentively on Massacre, which featured only the Doctor and Steven. More freedom for Spooner. Since Sara had been shown at her worst, murdering sibling Bret Vyon, Spooner had carte blanche with the character. Start her off as a baddie, give her a noble path of redemption, make her more likable, then kill her off – making a powerful statement about the deadly aspect of the Daleks.
So, at the end of the day, we ended up with two brutal companion deaths in one story, but also got to see Sara Kingdom grow a bit as a character for a short time and even have a little bit of fun. Kind of amazing what can happen when the bosses don’t come in to the office, eh?