R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen 1946-2011

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We are saddened to report that Elisabeth Sladen, one of Doctor Who’s longest serving companions and star of The Sarah Jane Adventures, has died aged 65.

BBC news confirms that Sladen had been fighting cancer for some time.

Sladen first appeared in Doctor Who as Sarah Jane Smith in 1973. She returned to the show in 2006 in the episode School Reunion. In 2007, she was given her own spin-off series on CBBC – The Sarah Jane Adventures which went on to be hugely successful.

Controller of CBBC Damian Kavanagh said tonight:

“I’m deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Lis’ untimely death. Lis brought joy, excitement and a sense of wonder to her many fans in her role as Sarah Jane Smith. She was adored by our young audience and I know all of them will miss her as much as I will.”

The creator of The Sarah Jane Adventures 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.”

Sladen’s death comes just months after Nicholas Courtney passed away. It is terribly sad to lose two Doctor Who veterans in such a short space of time.

RIP Elisabeth Sladen.