Tuesday, April 19, 2011
RIP Elisabeth Sladen
I'm very saddened to learn that Elisabeth Sladen has died at the young age of 63. I began watching Doctor Who during the Jon Pertwee years when Jo Grant was his companion, followed by Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith who continued on through part of the Tom Baker run as the Doctor.
I think the reason that Sarah Jane Smith had such tremendous appeal to so many fans of the show (aside from how cute she was) is that Sarah always seemed a bit scared during her various adventures with the Doctor. The show could be a bit frightening for kids watching it and Sarah's visible unease made the frights seem more genuine and at the same time made it okay for young viewers to feel a bit frightened by what they were watching. No matter how scary things got, or how frightened Sarah became, she always found the strength and courage to rise above her fears and do whatever it was that needed to be done to help the Doctor save the world. If Sarah was scared, it was okay for the kid watching to be scared, and if she could be brave enough to overcome her fears, so could the child watching, even if that meant simply making it until the show's cliffhanger ending.
She remains my favorite of the Doctor's companions, and I was pleasantly surprised when she returned to the series in a recurring role during it's current incarnation looking very much the same as she did decades ago. She is also the only companion to receive their own spinoff series, a testament to her popularity. Given how great she looked I was taken aback to learn that she'd been fighting cancer for some time and finally succumbed. Doctor Who remains inspirational to me, in large part because of the well rendered characters on the show, a combination of the talent of the writers and the actors who have brought them to life. While the Doctor has travelled with many companions before Sarah Jane Smith, and since, she's the one I always use as the high standard to which I compare the others.
For a full account visit the BBC website.