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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011

In case you haven’t already heard: Elisabeth Sladen, aka Sarah Jane Smith of Doctor Who and her own eponymous spinoff, The Sarah Jane Adventures, died this morning. She was 63 and had been ill with cancer.
From a BBC press release:

Russell T Davies said: “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.”

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Lead Writer and Executive Producer said: “‘Never meet your heroes’ wise people say. They weren’t thinking of Lis Sladen.

“Sarah Jane Smith was everybody’s hero when I was younger, and as brave and funny and brilliant as people only ever are in stories. But many years later, when I met the real Sarah Jane – Lis Sladen herself – she was exactly as any child ever have wanted her to be. Kind and gentle and clever; and a ferociously talented actress, of course, but in that perfectly English unassuming way.

“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 fifty years from now.”

More tribute from Russell T. Davies here (audio clip from, I suspect, BBC Radio)

I’m not sure anyone in the fan community had any idea she was sick. I certainly hadn’t heard anything.

I don’t usually note celebrity deaths because I usually don’t have anything to say about them. But this one stings. To me — and, I suspect, to many grownup Doctor Who fans of longstanding, including very obviously Davies and Moffat — Sarah Jane was the companion. Something about her character said Doctor Who more than almost other apart from the Doctor himself. I feel like a little bit of my childhood has died.

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