When Elisabeth Sladen first appeared as plucky journalist Sarah Jane Smith in 1973 Doctor Who story The Time Warrior, little did she know the character would become one of the most enduring and fondly remembered of the series’ long history.
The years that followed saw Elisabeth traverse time and space alongside classic Doctors Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, whilst a generation of children crouched behind the sofa, terrified but transfixed as their tea-time heroine found herself menaced by Daleks, dinosaurs, Cybermen, Egyptian mummies, extras in Bubble Wrap and even the Loch Ness Monster. By the time she quit the TARDIS in 1976, making front-page news, Elisabeth had become one of the most familiar faces of a TV golden age.
But you don’t just walk away from Doctor Who. Elisabeth was asked to reprise the role many times, appearing in anniversary specials; an ill-fated 1981 spin-off with robotic sidekick K-9; radio plays; and for the BBC’s Children in Need. She toured the weird, wide and wonderful world of Doctor Who fandom and became one of the series’ all-time favourite companions. So when TV wunderkind Russell T Davies approached her to come back again, this time to a Doctor Who backed by multi-million-pound budgets and garlanded with critical plaudits, how could she refuse?
This warm and witty autobiography, completed only months before Elisabeth died in April 2011, tells her remarkable story, from humble beginnings in post-war Liverpool, through an acclaimed theatrical career working alongside stage luminaries such as Alan Ayckbourn, to Coronation Street, Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em, Z-Cars, a long, successful and very happy career in the theatre – and the furthest reaches of the Universe.
A unique, insider’s view of the world’s longest running science fiction series, and of British television yesterday and today, Elisabeth’s memoir is funny, ridiculous, insightful and entertaining and a fitting tribute to a woman who will be sadly missed by millions.
Elisabeth Sladen: The Autobiography is published by Aurum Press on 7th November 2011 at £18.99, or you can purchase it for just £10.63 from Amazon (note that Amazon still has the original cover listed).