R.I.P. Elisabeth "Sarah Jane Smith" Sladen

Posted on: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 23:34 By: Tom Swiss

As a long-time Whovian, I'm saddened to learn of the death of Elisabeth Sladen, who portrayed the Doctor's companion Sarah Jane Smith in the original Doctor Who series, in the revival, and in the spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures. Ms. Sladen had been suffering from cancer; she was 63.

Steven Moffat had this wonderful praise of her:

'Never meet your heroes' wise people say. They weren't thinking of Lis Sladen.

Sarah Jane Smith was everybody's hero when I was younger, and as brave and funny and brilliant as people only ever are in stories. But many years later, when I met the real Sarah Jane - Lis Sladen herself - she was exactly as any child ever have wanted her to be. Kind and gentle and clever; and a ferociously talented actress, of course, but in that perfectly English unassuming way.

There are a blessed few who can carry a whole television show on their talent and charisma - but I can't think of one other who's done it quite so politely. I once showed my son Joshua an old episode of Doctor Who, in which Lis appeared. "But that's Sarah Jane," he said, confused "In old Doctor Who. From years ago. How come she always look exactly the same?" It's not a comfort today, of course, but children will still be saying that fifty years from now.