R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen

Elisabeth Sladen in 2003
Elisabeth Sladen in 2003

Yesterday, the English actress Elisabeth Sladen (photo ©Danacea) suddenly passed away. She’s been suffering from cancer for some time but she was a private person so she had kept it a secret.

Elisabeth Sladen was born in Liverpool on February 1, 1946. After school she began her acting career on stage and after a few years she started to appear on television too.

Elisabeth Sladen’s career is inevitably linked to the famous series “Doctor Who” where she made her debut in 1973 in the serial “The Time Warrior” with the Third Doctor played by Jon Pertwee. Her character, journalist Sarah Jane Smith, was very successful thanks to her performance and stayed in the series with Tom Baker, when the Doctor regenerated, until 1976. Sarah Jane Smith’s departure in the serial “The Hand of Fear” was an event like a regeneration.

Elisabeth Sladen worked again on stage, television and in several films but she kept on being linked in various ways to “Doctor Who”. Over the years she participated in the first spin-off attempt, titled “K-9 and Company”, in some specials dedicated to “Doctor Who” and in several audio adventures, including a series specifically dedicated to Sarah Jane Smith.

In 2006 Elisabeth Sladen resumed her role as Sarah Jane in the new “Doctor Who” series episode “School Reunion” with the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. Later she became the protagonist of the new spin-off “The Sarah Jane Adventures” and appeared again in other episodes of the new “Doctor Who” series.

Elisabeth Sladen in The Hand of Fear, her final classic Doctor Who story
Elisabeth Sladen in The Hand of Fear, her final classic Doctor Who story

Some time ago there were reports of a break in the production of the new “The Sarah Jane Adventures” season because of Elisabeth Sladen’s health issues but only her family and close friends knew the real seriousness of the situation. Yesterday unfortunately the actress died leaving a great pain in her many fans.

I discovered “Doctor Who” with the debut of the Fourth Doctor so for me Sarah Jane Smith was the first companion and for many years the only one. Just a couple of months ago Nicholas Courtney died, an actor Elisabeth Sladen worked with on several occasions as he was another veteran of the “Doctor Who” saga: it’s an era that’s coming to an end.

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