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RIP Elisabeth Sladen

I’m not sure why I’m so upset by the news today about the death of Elisabeth Sladen. Perhaps it’s the way in which I first found out about it, via Twitter and unconfirmed, allowing for the strange sense of optimism that maybe it’s not true mixed with fatalism that it probably is (It could be a hoax! An unfortunate miscommunication! Something, anything…), or perhaps it’s that her death comes as she’s found a second flush of fame with the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures. For whatever reason, it’s very sad news.

Sladen was an oddity in Who circles, one of the few – the only, perhaps? – actor to have returned to the series following its revival in 2005. It wasn’t the first time she’s come back to the show following her original three year run between 1973 and 1976, nor was it surprising that her character, Sarah Jane Smith, was the one chosen to return in the new series; Sladen had managed to become a fan favorite during her short stay on the show – There was media outcry when it was announced she’d be leaving, and for many people (including director Edgar Wright), she was the definitive Who companion – and she had already returned to the character a couple of times since, with both the spin-off pilot K9 & Company and charity one-off Dimensions In Time.

Her non-Who work was relatively minor; she had guest roles on long-running British series like The Bill and Peak Practice as she went into a period of semi-retirement to spend time with her family. But her re-appearance in 2006’s Who episode “School Reunion” proved not only poignant but successful enough to land her her own spin-off series, the kid-friendly Sarah Jane Adventures, which launched in 2007 and was due to shoot its fifth season this year.

Sladen is survived by her husband, Brian Miller, and her daughter Sadie. She will be missed.


  • Michael Midnight

    Sad news indeed! Thankfully I also heard word about this through Twitter but when I did, it was linked to a BBC article validating its claim. And I really hoping to see more of her with Matt Smith. May she rest in peace!

  • Dawnell_do


  • AudioComics

    RIP, Sarah Jane. Thank you for many wonderful years on “Who.”

    Lance Roger Axt
    The AudioComics Company

  • Christian

    Absolutely gutted
    Sarah Jane was the first Companion (rather than just an assistant), the one I most remember from my childhood and the measure against which all other companions are compared
    RIP Ms Sladen, you will be truly missed

  • Shomy092

    R.I.P. Elisabeth…. I had no idea….. I just read it here….. I don’t have twitter so I didn’t read this…. I was hoping to see her in Doctor Who…. Dam….. I didn’t know she was sick…. :((

  • Bill Reed

    Completely crushed. The news hit me like a knife in the chest.

  • Anton Binder

    Incredibly sad. I wonder if the BBC even knew she was ill? and what on earth are they gonna do about the SJ adventures? Is it too soon to suggest the Jo Grant adventures? I’m sure Katy Manning would jump at the chance.

  • Francesca

    I don’t normally expect to actually cry for an actor’s passing, but she was exceptional. I will miss her almost as if I’d known her personally.

  • Drew Edwards

    Wow. This really bums me out.

  • Daryll B.

    The first Doctor’s Companion I was exposed to on PBS as a youngster and one of the first strong female roles I saw in entertainment. Thank You Elisabeth Sladen for the fun memories and my condolences to her family & friends.

  • Louis Murphy

    When I started watching Doctor Who, my third episode was “School Reunion” that one episode made me a fan of Sarah Jane Smith. Then I started to watch the Sarah Jane Adventures and all the classic Who episodes featuring Elisabeth Sladen.

  • Julie

    Very sad to hear that we have lost another great actress who will be greatly missed, Elisabeth Sladen will always be one of Doctor Who’s greatest companions and showed dignity by not telling the world how ill she really was. Thoughts and prayers are with your husband and daughter at this very sad time.
    RIP Sarah Jane Smith.

  • Anonymous

    As the Doctor said, “Goodbye Sarah… Till we meet again.”

  • graehaus

    OMG, this is horrible news. She was one of my favorite companion of DW, also I really enjoyed SJA. R.I.P.

  • Sean Jenner

    Gobsmacked and truly upset by this sad, sad news. Sarah-Jane Smith was my first love (well, I was only 4 years old time), and a truly fantastic character, whose appeal spans generations (including my two young daughters in the Sarah-Jane Adventures). She will be very much missed by many who hold her dear to our hearts.

  • Tim O’Shea

    School Reunion is likely my favorite Doctor Who episode, because of her role in it. I totally understand your reaction and am feeling the same way, Graeme. I love Russell T. Davies’ tribute to her ( “We found ourselves with a new friend… as we shot that episode I remember thinking ‘I’m not letting her go’.”

  • EricMonster

    That is exactly how I feel. I just don’t want to believe it. I’ve been just sitting here in shock reading people’s posts on here and Facebook and crying. I don’t know why it’s hitting me so hard.. I live in the US and only met Sarah Jane when David Tennent was The Doctor, but I feel like I lost a family member. I still wish this would turn out to be a hoax or something…

  • Adam Guerino

    Such sad news! My comic-book podcast on itunes just did an episode about Dr. Who, too so it’s a strange coincidence

  • paulski

    I’m also completely stunned by the news. I just don’t know what to say. I was saddened by the news of Nick Courtney’s passing last month or so but accepted that it was almost to be expected due to his age and other issues, but this? What a horrible way to start the day.:(

    Goodbye Liz, you will be missed.

  • Dipsy

    I never met her but she was a childhood friend to me when I watched Doctor Who on channel 9 in New York City. But the most bitter sweet moments are when she was on the Tennant episodes of Who.

    She will be missed.

  • Wobaguk

    Very sad. Slight correction, they were actually half way through filming S5 when they stopped before Christmas. Possibly 3 stories were completed.

  • Cat

    It’s terrible news. When I first read it, it was over twitter, but then I looked it up and it was confirmed. She was wonderful, and I loved watching her in both Doctor Who and the Sarah Jane Adventures. I didn’t even know she was sick at all….

    R.I.P Sarah Jane Smith

  • David Fullam

    Part of my youth is dead. RIP Lis.

  • Jacob

    They might as well write Luke into being the lead…

  • Doctor Midnight

    I fell in love wtih her when I started watching DW at Ark in Space, was saddened upon her departure in Hand of Fear, was delighted to see her in K9 and Company, rediscovered an old friend in the the audio adventures put out by Big Finish, laughed as she made friends with Rose Tyler, and came home while watching the Sarah Jane Adventures. Elisabeth Sladen, taken from us so young, will be remembered and loved by all her DW fans.

  • demoncat_4

    sad news. for was hoping at first it was a bad joke. for she was my favorite who companion. sympathy to her friends and family for the lost a true one of kind lady. wno is proably catching up with the brigadare and the doctors who have gone to heaven before her .

  • Dirigibledave

    sad news indeed-
    especially as The Sarah Jane Adventures was such a joy to watch, even though she wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a great actress.

    There’s never a doctor around when you could do with one ….

  • BigDaddyJ1

    You know,the greatest Doctor,will always be Tom Baker,just as there will never be any companion of the Doctor’s that will ever compare to Sarah Jane. R.I.P Elisabeth Sladen,the world is a lot less kind without you in it.

  • Lion_okitkat

    Damn this is crazy! No way. This is just awful. I really enjoyed her character Sarah Jane. She lead a good life, my heart goes out to her family. I was thinking about death and the afterlife last night. Have to admit I’m a bit scared. :-(

  • Bobva

    I’ve been a fan since it was broadcast inthe ’70’s. She was the model of the Companion . When she returned, it was like the return of a old best friend. Now she’s gone. R.I.P. Sarah Jane Sladen.

  • Chazzers91

    Feels like I’ve been stabbed in the heart. Yet another piece of my childhood gone. :(
    Rest in Peace Lis.