Remembering Elisabeth Sladen: Three Years On

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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.


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)