Tue
Apr 19 2011 4:12pm

Doctor Who Star Elisabeth Sladen Passes Away at 63

Doctor Who fans around the world are currently in shock by today's news of the sudden passing of Elisabeth Sladen.

Sladen was most known—and absolutely beloved—for her portrayal of journalist Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who, a role that she made popular in the 1970s and reprised once again in 2006 alongside the revival of the series. This eventually led to her starring in the character's own program, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which recently concluded its fourth season in the fall of 2010.

According to preliminary reports from Doctor Who Magazine, as well as from Who alumni Nicola Bryant and Paul Cornell, the 63-year-old Sladen died of complications involving cancer. [Update: The BBC has released a statement regarding Sladen's passing.]

In the past several years Elisabeth Sladen has been a vibrant reminder that being youthful and full of wonder towards the universe has nothing to do with chronological age. As Sarah Jane Smith, Sladen provided a role model in potraying her as a resourceful, independent, morally-centered hero. Her character's tenure on Doctor Who rivals that of any other actor, having shared the screen with fully eight out of the eleven current Doctors.

Current showrunner Steven Moffat had this to say of Sladen:

“Never meet your heroes” wise people say. They weren't thinking of Lis Sladen.

We are all very lucky to have experienced the beauty of Elisabeth Sladen and know her memory will live on in all of time and space.


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com and often serves as a general announcement account for the staff.

23 comments
Rowanmdm
1. Rowanmdm
This makes me so sad on so many levels. Rest in peace.
April Moore
3. aprildmoore
Yes, very sad, indeed. She will be missed by many.
Rowanmdm
4. Amy Goldschlager
So sad. Her first episode with David Tennant, when Sarah Jane explains what it really meant to have been left behind by the Doctor is one of most poignant episodes in the new series, I think.
Nick Abadzis
5. Nick_Abadzis
RIP Elisabeth Sladen, beloved childhood icon and hero of mine. My condolences to her family and friends.
Chris Lough
6. TorChris
@4. I agree, Amy. The look on her face when she sees the TARDIS again for the first time in decades...that look is an entire novel's worth of acting. So much trauma and joy and surprise... One of the absolute best moments in the entire series.
Rowanmdm
8. Sihaya
Oh my gosh, how awful. She was my first companion. My condolences to her friends and family.

Funny - the line I always remember her saying is "Harry, if you call me 'old girl' again I'll spit in your eye!" I just laughed so hard the first time I heard it.
Jason Henninger
9. jasonhenninger
@4 and 6 I think so too.

My 6 year old daughter is a big Sarah Jane fan. I'm glad Sladen (and the various writers of the shows) was there to provide my kid with an example of an independant, sincere, intelligent, compassionate and adventurous woman. I mean, really, how many characters--especially older women, and in kids' TV--can that be said of? My daughter loves all the main characters (has a bit of a crush on Clyde, I think) but Sarah Jane most of all.
Ian Tregillis
10. ITregillis
Oh, man, what a bummer. This is very sad news.

Sarah Jane was my first companion, too. I was 5 years old, I'd just come home from my first day of kindergarten, and our local PBS station was showing The Ark in Space.
Rowanmdm
11. ROBINM
Sarah Jane was always one of my favorite companions and I was really starting to enjoy the Sarah Jane Adventures I've been able to see. R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen I hope your next great adventure is just as much fun. My condolences to her family and friends everywhere and when.
James Whitehead
12. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Sarah Jane was my favourite companion of them all. It was great to see her in some recent episodes. Sad to hear of her untimely death.

@10ITregillis, I remember that episode. Gave me the creeps. ;-)

Kato
Rowanmdm
13. Stefan Jones
I wonder if Sladen, and by extension Sarah Jane's, death will be somehow worked into a future Doctor Who episode.

If it is, knowing Moffat & co., it would be something utterly crushing.
Abdel Masdoua
14. TheDarkOne
I'm stunned...

So very very sad...

Rest in Peace Elisabeth...
Rowanmdm
15. AlexFerrie
As someone who grew up with Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker as "my Doctor", Sarah Jane Smith was the one Assistant who always seemed synonymous with the original series. So many of the Doctor's Assistant's passed by over the years, but Sarah Jane was always the one I remembered best. She was strong and independant, a fantastic role model for any kid, male or female.
It's been such great fun watching my own children discover her through the new episodes and the Sarah Jane Adventures. In fact they loved her so much that they watch out for repeats of the old series on satellite channels to see her adventures with the Doctors 3 and 4.
I'm so sad today at the thought that this amazing woman is no longer with us, my thoughts and deepest sympathies go to her family.
John Richards
16. wanderingoutlaw
I only know her through her work on the new Dr Who series and the first 2 seasons of Sarah Jane Adventures, but I'm still pretty bummed. Rest in peace.
Rowanmdm
17. SarahLouise
There are no words fit enough to say here.
Jenny Thrash
18. Sihaya
Stefan @ #13, I figure one of two things will happen: Sarah Jane and the Brig will go down together, fighting all the way, or they will sail off into a sunset of endless adventure, always looking out for each other.
Rowanmdm
19. ChaosOnion
Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith. I will always remember you.
Rowanmdm
20. AprlR
REST IN PEACE! You will be missed by all.
Rowanmdm
21. JH
I just heard about this sad event in an email today from Tor.
The email had a very unfortunate mistake:
Remembering Elisabeth Sladen (1948-2001)
Obviously, that should be 2011

She will be missed by all her fans.
Rowanmdm
22. Salabra
An amazing character, and an amazing woman, by all accounts.

If I had been born when she made her first appearance, I'd have been even more of a fan than I am now!
Rowanmdm
23. Jason Packard
She was the best, the brightest, the most lovely of all of the Doctor's companions. Rest in peace, Sarah Jane.

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