Elisabeth Sladen, the actress best known for playing Sarah Jane Smith on the long running British science-fiction TV series Doctor Who and more recently in The Sarah Jane Adventures, died on Tuesday of cancer. She was 63.
Sladen joined the cast of Doctor Who in 1973 and stayed for three and a half years playing first alongside Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker, the Third and Forth Doctors, respectively. She reprised the role on several occasions but a guest appearance in 2006 with David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor) proved so popular that she was offered her own series The Sarah Jane Adventures which debuted on the BBC the following year. The Sarah Jane Adventures was geared towards younger viewers and ended up bringing her a new generation of fans. It availed her of the opportunity to work with Matt Smith who plays the current Doctor.
My earliest memories of Doctor Who were in the late ’70s. On Saturday nights, TVOntario would broadcast old episodes and the first episodes I remember seeing featured Pertwee as the Doctor and Sladen as Sarah Jane. Admittedly, I was a casual fan of the show but my older brother Ezra became a Who devotee and remains one to this day. I am sure he will be devastated by this news. Goodbye Sarah Jane.