Goodbye my Sarah Jane

I am crushed to hear of the passing of actress Elisabeth Sladen, best known for portraying Sarah Jane Smith on the BBC’s Doctor Who from 1973-1976, at the age of 63. The actress passed away from cancer.

Miss Sladen returned to the Doctor Who family several times, first in 1981 in the “K9 and Company” holiday special, and again alongside Jon Pertwee in 20th Anniversary special “The Five Doctors”. She was also the first original series character to appear in the new series ( first in 2006’s School Reunion, with tenth Doctor, David Tennant. ) before being given her own series, the highly successful “The Sarah Jane Adventures ” on CBBC, where she got to appear with both Tennant and current Doctor, Matt Smith as well as fellow original series alum Katy Manning and Nicholas Courtney in his final appearance as Brigader Lethbridge-Stewart. Mr. Courtney passed away this past February.

I had not heard that she was ill and do not know if it was widely reported in the UK.

Like many other fans of Doctor Who in the US, Sarah Jane was my first companion. The Pyramid of Mars, The Brain of Morbuis and Masque of Mandragora were among the first stories I recall seeing on my local NJ PBS station in the early 80’s. And to this day remain among my favorites, even including the series 21st century revival. As investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith, she was a strong female character in Sci-Fi (At the time not the norm.) Liz Sladen set the standard for Doctor Who companions to come, Strong independent women with a soft from Tegan, to Ace to Rose and Donna and beyond.

At 63, Miss Sladen was just a year younger than my mother when she passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2009. My utmost sympathy goes out to her family and friends

BBC’s official statement:

It is with much sadness that we can announce Elisabeth Sladen, the much-loved actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and CBBC’s The Sarah Jane Adventures, passed away this morning. She was 63.

Lis first appeared as Sarah Jane in Doctor Who in 1973 alongside the Third Doctor Jon Pertwee and stayed for three and half seasons working alongside Jon and the Fourth Doctor Tom Baker. She returned to the role on numerous occasions over the years and, in 2007, was given her own spin-off series on CBBC – The Sarah Jane Adventures – where she would appear alongside new Doctors David Tennant and Matt Smith.

The Sarah Jane Adventures brought Lis a whole new generation of fans who grew up to love her alien-busting adventures. The series was hugely popular with fans young and old and won this year’s RTS Award for best children’s drama.

Controller of CBBC Damian Kavanagh said tonight: “I’m deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Lis’ untimely death. Lis brought joy, excitement and a sense of wonder to her many fans in her role as Sarah Jane Smith. She was adored by our young audience and I know all of them will miss her as much as I will.”

About David Vandervliet

Once, King of all these lands, but now I am just an aging nerd. I enjoy talking about my favorite things to geek about, and hopefully I say something to make you think a little too. My favorite things include: Comics, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Science, Astronomy, Math, Music, theatre, movies, writing, baseball, college football (Go Blue!)
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  1. It was news to me too, so I guess Sladen chose to keep it private as much as possible. A small and cherished part of my childhood has been lost before her time. Terribly sad. Hopefully with season six premiering this weekend in the UK (and in the US too, I believe?) they will insert a dedication card to mark her passing.

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