It’s with great sadness that we announce the tragic death of Elisabeth Sladen. Lis had secretly been fighting cancer for quite some time. She died on 19th April.
She is survived by her husband Brian Miller, and daughter Sadie
Lis was born in Liverpool in 1948, Elisabeth Sladen showed an interest in acting from an early age; she joined the Liverpool Playhouse repertory company.
In 1973 she was cast as the replacement companion Jon Pertwee’s, 3rd Doctor. Following in the footsteps of popular companion Jo Grant played by Katy Manning.
Her debut story was The Time Warrior and stayed for a further 3 golden years of Doctor Who alongside Tom Baker, an era including the story that always tops fan polls, Genesis of the Daleks.
Despite choosing to leaving the show in 1976, she returned to the role for the 1981 pilot, K9 and Company.
Sladen was re-united with “her” Doctor, Jon Pertwee, in the 1983 20th anniversary celebration The Five Doctors, and again during the early 90s for the two radio stories The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space, written and produced by Barry Letts – the two would also be joined by another, Who legend, Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier.
In 2005, a discussion with the revived Doctor Who’s head writer and long-term fan of hers, Russell T Davies, led to a guest appearance in the second series adventure School Reunion, which re-united Sarah and K9 with the 10th Doctor.
The character, and Sladen’s performance, was popular and led to her own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures; the CBBC series continued on from her re-introduction in Doctor Who as an independent investigator of alien activity. The series won over a whole new generation of fans, It is also a testament to the strength of the show that it has been graced by the appearance of the both the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney), and the Doctor himself in both his Tenth incarnation in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith (and David Tennant’s final performance as the Doctor), and Eleventh in the form of Matt Smith in Death of the Doctor – where Sladen performed with the actress she had taken over from, back in 1973, Katy Manning, aka Jo Jones
The series itself has gone on to win awards, including the Royal Television Society award for Children’s Drama last month.
At the time of her death there are still three stories of The Sarah Jane Adventures to be aired.
Her autobiography, Who’s That Girl is due out later in the year.
B.W reporter Martyn