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Published on April 20th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith

This, people, is what the news shows mean when they say “tributes have poured in”. Elisabeth Sladen was hugely popular, and indeed will remain so, and if you haven’t already experienced the tip of the iceberg that we have featured from Twitter and various news websites over the past day, there are more here thanks to the BBC’s formal press release addressing the matter.

Russell T Davies persuaded Elisabeth Sladen to reprise Sarah Jane Smith in 2006′s School Reunion, and was inspired to create The Sarah Jane Adventures soon after.

“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.”

David Tennant, meanwhile, became the third Doctor to become associated with Sarah Jane Smith and Lis Sladen, thanks to School Reunion and the later The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End and The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, a crossover episode with The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2009.

“I just can’t believe that Lis is gone. She seemed invincible. The same woman who enchanted my childhood, enchanted my time on Doctor Who and enchanted generations who have watched her and fallen in love with her – just like I did. I feel very honoured to have shared a TARDIS with Sarah Jane Smith, and I feel very lucky to have shared some time with Lis Sladen. She was extraordinary.”

BBC Wales haven’t yet made any announcement confirming or denying rumours concerning Series 5 of The Sarah Jane Adventures, however while the BBC are planning an appropriate tribute as part of The Impossible Astronaut when Doctor Who airs this Saturday BBC Wales’ Keith Jones recalled Elisabeth Sladen’s presence and energy.

“The Sarah Jane Adventures has been one of the most successful children’s programmes on television in recent years – and without Elisabeth Sladen it would not have happened. A brilliant presence on screen and on set, she brought the excitement and energy of the Doctor Who family of programmes, of which we are very proud at BBC Wales, to a whole new generation. She will be missed by all at BBC Wales who worked with her.”

Steven Moffat, meanwhile, is of course the current Doctor Who showrunner. He recalled meeting Lis Sladen for the first time and using her as the exception that proves the rule that you should never meet your heroes.

“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 50 years from now.”

Relative newcomer Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith starred with Lis Sladen in the 2010 Sarah Jane Adventures episode Death of the Doctor. However it seems that he was able to pick up an awful lot from the actress during their time working together.

“What struck me about Lis was her grace. She welcomed me, educated me, and delighted me with her tales and adventures on Doctor Who. And she also seemed to have a quality of youth that not many people retain as they go through life. Her grace and kindness will stay with me because she had such qualities in abundance and shared them freely.

“I will miss her, as will the world of Doctor Who and all the Doctors that had the good pleasure to work with Lis Sladen and travel the universe with Sarah Jane.”

And just to top all of this off, as best we can, CBBC Newsround has collected memories from young fans of Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures. While we don’t normally feel the need to provide warnings before you click links (we don’t tend to promote anything tasteless) we will make an exception in this case.

This link will make you cry.

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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