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Remembering Elisabeth Sladen: Three Years On

Guest contributor Liam Duke pays tribute to the one and only Sarah Jane Smith.

the_end_of_time sarah jane goodbye

“What a legacy, that wonderful woman!”
- Katy Manning

On April 19th 2011, the Whovian world was left in mourning by the untimely passing of Elisabeth Sladen, also known as one of the most loved companions of all time, Sarah Jane Smith. Prior to the news I was full of excitement when I woke up; the next day I was going to London for the Doctor Who Experience, then I heard and honestly my heart broke. I was devastated. I had tears in my eyes and I couldn’t contemplate the fact that she was gone. I knew it would be the end of one of my favourite shows, The Sarah Jane Adventures, but more importantly an inspiring and highly loved woman had left us, and all too soon.

I started watching Doctor Who in 2005 and have loved it ever since. In 2006, Sarah Jane returned to our screens in the wonderful “School Reunion”. When I watched the episode again I got teary. Any episode with her in will never be the same, and that’s because Sarah Jane not only touched a nation’s heart, but so did Elisabeth Sladen herself. Katy Manning’s (Jo Grant) quote above displays that even adults are touched by the work she did. Three years on, her memory stays strong.

She always said the definitive companion may be yet to come, but I think Elisabeth Sladen IS the definitive companion. She was a star and really became popular after taking over from a well-loved companion like Jo. The nation fell in love with her, and she had a great run of stories in her time on the show.

She returned to Doctor Who and a whole new generation fell in love with her all over again. She even got her own spin-off show that proved to be a hit! It ran for five series, and ended prematurely due to her tragic death. I still watch it and love it on DVD to this day.elisabeth-sladen-sarah-jane-sja-s1

Everyone who worked with her said she was kind and happy and a blessing to work with. It never surprised me to hear that. She was a professional actress who worked on shows she loved, and her passion spread to everyone who knew or watched her. I can safely say her death was one of few times in 2011 when I was actually upset. She was an inspiration, and still is. I will never forget her, and I think no one else will either. That’s just a quality about her you couldn’t describe, because it is so unique and special.

On the day of her death, I wrote a letter to Elisabeth Sladen. It was the only way of getting my feelings out. I wasn’t going to, but I am going to share it with you all now. This was written on 19th April 2011, quite late at night as far as I remember. I’ve kept it all this time.

Dear Elisabeth,

You left the world today, and I am really upset.

I’m sad about the fact that you died far too young, and that you won’t ever grace our screens again. You were an idol of mine and I loved you as Sarah Jane Smith. You were always fantastic in the role, and you inspired me with how much you loved the shows you were in and the parts you played. I want to be an actor, and you are one of the reasons why. You always will be.

It breaks my heart to know you’re not here, and that The Sarah Jane Adventures won’t continue, at least not in the same way. I’d rather it would just end than to try and carry on without you. That’s really sad, but I think it has to be done.

Thank you for touching the hearts of millions, and for being a wonderful woman. I wish I could’ve met you, but I never will. I hope you knew that you were incredible and will never be forgotten. I hope you’re happy wherever you are now; I’m sure it’s somewhere in the stars.

Liam

R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen, three years have passed and we all still miss you. If there’s one thing I can ask each of you who read this to do today, then do one thing for me… Remember. Remember a fantastic woman, and never ever forget.

“The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss; they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it’s a world or a relationship, everything has it’s time, and everything ends.”
– Sarah Jane, “School Reunion” (2006)

Step back in time...

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51 comments
Johnny2e
Johnny2e

I Loved watching Dr Who when I was a kid in the 70s. Tom Baker may have been The Doctor but bothTom and Elisabeth were Doctor Who to me. My daughter loved watching The Adventures of Sarah Jane (as did the boy who still resides within me.) Elisabeth made our imaginations fly. We were both very saddened by her death. She was and will forever remain a very beautiful woman.

pineappleangelhm
pineappleangelhm

Though I am working my way through the Classic Doctor Who episodes, I have not yet reached the episodes of Sarah Jane. However, I do know her character well from "New Who" and the Sarah Jane Adventures. I was heartbroken to find out that she had passed and this little memorial did bring me to tears. I love the acting of Elisabeth Sladen, and I hope to explore and discover more! 

R.I.P Elisabeth "Liz" Sladen, the Whoniverse will miss you forever!!

DW_girl
DW_girl

What a moving tribute! Almost brought me to tears :')

BigBadBob
BigBadBob

When every single great-great grandchild of every single human being alive on the planet today has passed on, people will still be marvelling at the achievements of this remarkable, beautiful and talented woman.

Elisabeth gone, but Sarah Jane: immortal.

Whovian
Whovian

Elisabeth Sladen was a fantastic and beautiful woman and her death broke the hearts of millions. Her Sarah Jane Adventures was amazing programme and I am so grateful for the programme introducing me to the world of Doctor Who. RIP, Elisabeth Sladen, I will remember you forever x

TimeLord22
TimeLord22

Thank you all for reading my tribute. I'm glad I shared my thoughts and my letter with you all :)


mlawesome
mlawesome

I met her and she remembered me the next day. She was very nice.

ShabatakaKush
ShabatakaKush

The irony for me is that I JUST got finished watching her last regular appearance on the original series "The Hand of Fear"--something I had been putting off for weeks.. It was only after looking around online for more information on Elisabeth that I found out it was the anniversary of her passing.   I always found myself smiling or laughing at her reactions, outbursts or sarcastic remarks. At one point in this episode, she was instructed to hold her nose and open her mouth before an explosion. I fell to pieces when she did. Good stuff. What a good person. She will be missed.

TheTimeTraveller is excited for Capaldi
TheTimeTraveller is excited for Capaldi

RIP Elisabeth Sladen. You were brilliant as Sarah Jane Smith. This is the most touching tribute I've read. You will be missed by all of us. You are gone but never forgotten 

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

I just finished watching Pyramids of Mars and checked in on this site, completely unaware that this was the anniversary of her death 3 years ago and this article brought tears to my eyes. She WAS the definitive companion! Now, fully AWARE of this anniversary, I will watch another  Sarah Jane episode (her debut). She was wonderful and is indeed missed. Thank you Liam for sharing your heart today!  And thank you Sarah Jane Smith for paving the way for so many strong women com[anions, especially Donna, Amy and Clara (whose resemblance to Sarah Jane is more than just a coincidence, methinks)!

SouffleBoy
SouffleBoy

RIP Elisabeth, and that letter was beautiful. Hard to believe it's been 3 years. :(

Temporal Tomato
Temporal Tomato

Very touching letter, Liam. If she could read it, she just might be able to understand just how much she means to fans everywhere, even after her death.

Chumbley
Chumbley

3 years already and still very difficult to absorb.  My first memories of the show were when she first became Pertwee's companion.  She was the only companion I ever knew for a large part of my childhood.  Glad my own kids got the chance to enjoy her via the Sarah Jane Adventures.  We miss her very much.

NewWho2012
NewWho2012

I don't think I ever cried when she passed. I just heard a rumour on the internet and quickly turned on the news to see if it was true and I think I was more in shock than heartbroken, but I think that came more after her final series ended and it finished on that epilogue montage, very sad to see as I really enjoyed her show and having her on Doctor Who and who knows, Moffat may have got her back to appear again! R.I.P Elisabeth Sladen.

lmariemarin
lmariemarin

I  had her (Liz's Roleplay S.J. ) on my F.B. list and when I heard of her passing I sent an email straight away 2 the email address she had listed , asking if there was some kind of error, if maybe the reports were wrong, within a few hours there were posts all over FB ,  she clued me into some vids that were on Utube, She was Narrating them as Sarah Jane , as to what her team should do after she was gone, how they could keep up the work, I bet she decided to make these videos for her younger viewers , after she found out about her cancer,, most people who are diagnosed like that would have packed it all in, but not her, Liz put her audience above herself and finished filming a season for her fans young and old , I watched the New Doctor Who when it first came out, but to me it just was'nt Doctor Who until thhe episode School Reunion , Elisabeth will be Greatly missed for years to come

VERITASERUMUK
VERITASERUMUK

3 years already? Time really does fly. It doesn't feel that long ago when I clicked on to the Digital Spy website only to be confronted with the headline: "Elisabeth Sladen dies, aged 63". I think it shocked me more because I didn't (and I'm assuming others didn't) know that she had cancer. That made it worse because she was suddenly ripped from all of our hearts.


R.I.P. Liz. You were the ultimate companion and will forever be my favourite Classic companion.

sontaran17
sontaran17

Three years on and it still stings, she left a whole in our hearts that can never be replaced.... I think everything to be said has already been touched on... Thankyou, Thankyou Liz, Our Sarah Jane

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

ive watched all of SJA and k9 and co. its very sad. It ended so prematurely and abruptly

Creepy_Ghoul
Creepy_Ghoul

Reading some of the adventures that were still to come, it makes me sad that we never saw those happen. Where is story of Mr. Smith becoming human? Where's the big battle for Bannerman Road? Where's the return of Ace? Where's the reunion with Tom Baker? These are stories that are lost in time. Still, I'm happy about the fact that both David and Matt were happy to join here on her show for two two-part episodes. Thank you, guys.

Joe17
Joe17

3 years?! Wow I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in France on holiday but we were able to get British TV. I woke up and my Mum told me she had died. I was devastated! But it didn't really hit me until we got home than that's when I cried I should also Say Lis was the first famous person who's death I genuinely cried over. 


Thank you Lis x

The Alien Hunter
The Alien Hunter

Well done Liam! Beautiful article! I found out a few months after it had happened. I was very upset when I found out, I had really gotten into SJA too.

R.I.P Elizabeth Sladen, role-model to all. You shall be missed.

supermoff
supermoff

A lovely woman, and a talented actress, her prominence and significance in the series will always mean that she is the defining companion. 

Baker Street is excited for Series 8!
Baker Street is excited for Series 8!

3 years. I still remember the moment that I found out such a wonderful woman had left us like it was yesterday.

Thank you for everything, Lis. Thank you for Sarah Jane, thank you for being an inspiration, thank you for being a huge, brilliant part of Doctor Who, and thank you for the warmth and joy and enthusiasm you never failed to show. You truly are one of the greatest women ever, and we will never, ever forget you.

WhoLock
WhoLock

What a wonderful tribute! Sarah Jane is one of only a handful of characters to make the jump between classic and new who and she makes every scene she's in magical. I rewatched the final scene of 'The Man Who Never Was' and it genuinely upsets me. (I'd also recommend watching the CBBC Sarah Jane tribute, regardless of age)

And so, to the best and my favourite companion Miss Sarah Jane Smith...let your memory live on forever!

R.I.P Elisabeth Sladen 2011 was too soon

The Grey Ghost
The Grey Ghost

That's a beautiful tribute to her, well done. And I understand how difficult it can be to share a piece of writing so personal to oneself, so you have my respect for that.

Weepingdalek
Weepingdalek

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful! Thankyou Elisabeth for all your work throughout the years, you are missed.

Antee991166
Antee991166

We all still miss you Elisabeth Sladen, a great companion, a great actress and a great person.

FisherCrane
FisherCrane

Rest in peace Elizabeth Sladen. You inspired countless generations and will always be the ultimate companion. You're an inspiration to all of us. Never to be forgotten.

I couldn't believe that she was 63, she seemed so much younger.  She'd never admit it, but she was Legendary as an actress, as a person, and as Sarah Jane Smith.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

A lovely tribute, bringing her back in School Reunion was a stroke of genius, and linked the two eras of the show together beautifully!

SonicTheHedgehogRules
SonicTheHedgehogRules

This is absolutely beautiful to read. It really shows how much everyone adors Sarah Jane Smith as a character. She is my personal favourite companion, and Elisabeth Sladen brought the character to life in such a perfect way. We'll miss her dearly, there isnmt a day that goes past I wish she didn't come back again.

To an inspiration, and idol, and an amazing person.

Joncon95
Joncon95

Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah-jane Smith, one of the best companions ever. I still miss her much, and hearing that a 4th Doctor-Sarah reunion was in the works only makes it more sad. She had so much more to give. It just goes to show how big an evil cancer is, to take such a lovely person so soon. R.I.P Elisabeth Sladen

The_Doctor_
The_Doctor_


Such a shame, without her i would have never discovered Doctor Who. I so wish they did something for her in the 50th, bring back K-9 or something to represent her like they did with Kate Stewart with the Brigader. No notice what at all for Liz, yes she was in the trailer but was that it? Not even a cgi scene or anything like they did in TNOTD, The only thing i wanted for the 50th was Liz to get recognised. But no, she never -.- 

Liana21
Liana21

Rest in peace dear Sarah Jane, you will always be remembered.

She was one of the brightest Companions of the Series, I love how strong she is and bits like her lessons to the Queen of Peladon or how she cheers and plans the rebellion of the slave in Genesis.

I became myself a Whovian few months later and I must recognise with shame that when I watched School Reunion for first time I didn't know anything about her and I couldn't appreciate her appearance as you Anglo-Saxons did.

MarcWebster
MarcWebster

Lovely article....very moving....think it is how we all feel about her and her untimely death

The Genie
The Genie

This has got to be about the fifth article on Lis since her passing... I guess that just goes to show what a mark the woman made.  She's inspiring people to write about her, to praise her, even after her death.  Lis was like a light.  She was bright, almost blinding in her beauty... and without her, Who would never have been guided down the passage it was.  She's easily my favourite actress of all time, and certainly the woman who defined Doctor Who.

Liana21
Liana21

I've been watching The Time Warrior

Liana21
Liana21

I'd like a little tribute to her, as with the Brigadier in Wedding, maybe The Doctor appearing on her door for a little adventure and getting the sad news from her song. It could be do tearjerker, but sort of pretty too.

awkward912
awkward912

@Liana21 Completely disagree: Elisabeth Sladen is, unfortunately, dead, but Sarah Jane is not. I'd like the exact opposite, for Sarah to off-screen help the Doctor save the world and remind us that she's still out there in Bannerman Road. That would be the strongest tribute of all.

Gustaff
Gustaff

@Liana21 he already knows she's dead. He has a deathday calender in his TARDIS which he uses to see the death dates of his companions. He had it during his seventh incarnation.

The_Doctor_
The_Doctor_

@The Finn @The Genie  Could you be less heartless? It's because she is an amazing women, who changed the lifes of many, without her i would never have discovered Doctor Who. I watched her spinoff and my Mum told me it was a spin off from Doctor Who, and boom i was hooked, They make posts for everyone. I feel really sorry for her daughter Sadie at the minute. her birthday is in a few days and it's her anniversary of passing today. and you have to be really selfish.




The Genie
The Genie

@The Finn @The Genie  Do you really need it explained to you?  Have you even read the other articles?


Firstly, Sarah Jane had her own spin-off show... now whilst many of those aforementioned actors and actresses made their own mark on the show, Sarah Jane was the one who inspired generations of children - there's not a better role model.

Secondly... there's a time and a place, Finn.  If you're going to complain about Sarah Jane, a eulogy isn't the best place to do it, hmm?





The Genie
The Genie

@The Finn @The Genie  ....Thirdly, Sarah Jane's passing was untimely.  She was only 63.  I'm not saying that's the case with all Whoniverse actors or actresses but it's a true tragedy when a character in her prime is to be so cruelly snatched away.

Frankly, I don't really care how many she's had.  Everyone is important, and Lis had such an impact on me as a person that honestly she deserves endless articles.  I wouldn't be the person I am today without Sarah Jane... I'm sorry you can't see that the way I do.