Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Elisabeth Sladen - A Small Tribute

It’s hard to write this but Lis Sladen is dead.

How can it be that the death of someone who is a total stranger can make me cry?

It is because Lis Sladen and Sarah Jane Smith are a big part of my childhood and my Doctor Who fan life. Sarah Jane was the first Doctor Who companion I remember partnered with my first (and favourite) Doctor, Tom Baker. When I grew up and became a geek it is those stories from Season 12, 13 & 14 that I continued – and continue – to love. It’s my Doctor Who comfort zone. When I’m in a bad mood it is to those stories that I frequently return.

I recently re-watched them all again as part of my quest to watch Doctor Who from the first episode to last & they still hold up well and part of that is the relationship between Sarah Jane & the Doctor; between Lis Sladen and Tom Baker.

Sarah Jane was introduced as a new companion in Jon Pertwee’s last season. The character was given a strong start and a life away from the Doctor and UNIT. She was an investigative journalist. That gave the character depth but it was Elisabeth Sladen’s performance that made Sarah Jane such a good companion.

Barry Letts said that when he auditioned her she was the only actress that could convey fear & bravery at the same time but there was more to Sarah Jane than that and it was Lis Sladen that delivered.

So good was the performance and so strong the character that it was Sarah Jane that was paired up with K9 in K9 & Company and then much more successfully she returned to New Who with David Tennant in ‘School Reunion’.

Then came ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’, which bought the character and Lis to a new generation of children and it can only be a tribute to how brilliant Lis was that she had created a character that she could still play with the same excellence 40 years after her first appearance.

Those are some of the facts & they can’t convey how much Lis Sladen meant to me (and to thousands like me). It’s inevitable as you get older that your childhood heroes pass away but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Lis Sladen will be missed and my thoughts are with her family.

I was going to watch ‘School Reunion’ but that last scene – the ‘my Sarah Jane’ moment – might be a bit too much tonight.

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