Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Elisabeth Sladen dies, aged 63

Elisabeth Sladen has sadly passed away, aged 63. The actress was best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Elisabeth Sladen, born in Liverpool, was invited to an audition for the role of Sarah Jane Smith by Doctor Who producer Barry Letts after Z-Cars producer Ron Craddock recommended Sladen for the part. After impressing Letts at the audition, she was offered the role.

She made her first appearance as the journalist alongside Jon Pertwee's Doctor in 1973 in "The Time Warrior". The actress starred alongside Tom Baker when he took on the role in 1975.

Sladen left the programme in 1976, in the story "The Hand of Fear". When she left in 1976, Sarah Jane had become Doctor Who's most loved companions and the story was front page news.

In 1981, Elisabeth returned as Sarah Jane in the 20th anniversary special "The Five Doctors" alongside Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison.

The actress made numerous further appearances in the world of Doctor Who, including the 1993 Children in Need special "Dimensions in Time" as well as several BBC and Big Finish audio plays.

Elisabeth Sladen returned to the role of Sarah Jane Smith in 2006 in the episode "School Reunion" alongside David Tennant's Doctor.

Following this appearance, CBBC commissioned a Doctor Who spin-off series focusing on Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane, The Sarah Jane Adventures.

The series has run for four series to date, and is currently the higest rating ever on CBBC. The programme included appearances from Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier as well as David Tennant and Matt Smith's Doctors.

In 2009, Sarah Jane was voted "Favourite Companion" by the readers of Doctor Who Magazine.

According to BBC News, she had been suffering from cancer for some time.

The creator of The Sarah Jane Adventures Russell T Davies said: "I absolutely loved Lis. She was funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful. The universe was lucky to have Sarah Jane Smith; the world was lucky to have Lis."

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who's Lead Writer and Executive Producer said: "'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."

Elisabeth Sladen's other acting work includes Coronation Street.  Z-Cars, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Special Branch.

She leaves her husband, actor Brian Miller and her daughter, Sadie.

RIP, Elisabeth, words can't describe how much we will miss you.

Elisabeth Sladen (1 February 1948 – 19 April 2011)


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