Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Tears for Sarah Jane

Elisabeth Sladen has sadly passed away. As a wee boy, I was fascinated by the TV series Doctor Who, so much so that it actually led me into a career in television. Every week I would read Doctor Who Monthly and the interviews with actors, actresses, directors, producers, writers, costume designers and more. What I thought was a magazine about a science fiction series in fact turned out to be my first manual in television production! The day I received my first BBC contract was one of the proudest days of my life - and the fact that Valerie, the production assistant in my first office had just worked on the series was as close to the magic of the series as I ever got, with my interest then veering into documentary rather than drama.

But what lured me to the series in the first place? It was three things - Tom Baker, the TARDIS, and Elisabeth Sladen. A Time Lord, a time machine that could take me to any time and place, and my first ever crush! As Sarah Jane Smith, Lis Sladen brought a real spark to what had previously been the role of the screaming assistant, with real attitude. She was a journalist - forget bow ties, journalists were cool! Now many years later I sit and watch the new version of the series with my own sons, but also had the pleasure to see Lis Sladen's acting career resurrected when they created a special series for her, The Sarah Jane Adventures, allowing my boys to equally find a hero in Sarah Jane Smith also.

I left the Beeb a few years back. Now as a family historian I travel to all sorts of times and places, and as a writer get to record my exploits through various avenues. Journalism and time travel, a wonderful mix - but I never got to travel with the Doctor!

To quote Jon Pertwee from his last ever story in Doctor Who in 1973 - "A tear Sarah Jane?" Many tears Lis Sladen - thank you for being as much a part of my childhood as you were of my children's.



  1. great tribute, from one Dr Who fan to another!

  2. Ah, Tom Baker was my favorite Doctor! I used to stay up late to watch this on Saturday nights as a kid. He was the first one I remember, then I caught the other Doctors on re-runs.

  3. My husband and I were also very saddened to hear this news. And Heather - Tom Baker was my favorite, too. My daughters, on the other hand, love David Tennant. And we were all happy to see the return of Sarah Jane. What a show, what a story.

  4. As a certain Brigadier once said - "The Doctor? Wonderful chap - all of them!"

  5. Yes Wonderful chaps - including the first one and I actually watched the first show.
    But Sarah Jane was one of favourite companions.
    And with my son much enjoyed Sarah Jane's reappearance.
    Yes indeed a tear for Liz............

  6. Aw, it's nice to read this - I've kind of been avoiding most of the coverage of her death. It took me by surprise, and is just so sad. And I also remember how sad I was when Sarah Jane left the original programme; my family was watching in the USA, several years behind schedule, so I think it was the mid-80s and I would have been about nine. She was kind of a cool older sister/aunt figure back then, from a girl fan's perspective.

  7. And we lost the Brigadier not long ago too. A sad time for Dr Who fans.

  8. A wee boy... that makes me feel old. This was my family's favorite to watch. I am sure my oldest daughter feels the same. She had started her children watching the old episodes with her on the British channel.