After a reported fight with cancer, Elisabeth Sladen, the British actress most fondly remembered as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. Elisabeth was 63 and her passing has left a great number of fans that grew up watching her saddened.
Sarah Jane Smith – One of the Favorite Doctor Who Companions
Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen in a publicity photo as the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith
I grew up watching Doctor Who on Saturday nights in rural North Texas on Channel 13 KERA. It was the late seventies and early eighties and I couldn’t wait for the adventures of the third and fourth incarnations of the Doctor, played respectively by Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. The transition from the third Doctor to the fourth Doctor was made a bit easier for my young mind because the continuity that Sarah Jane Smith provided.
Sarah Jane Smith was a journalist who after infiltrating a military base ends up accompanying the third incarnation of the Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee. Sladen stayed on for three seasons with the third Doctor until his regeneration. She then stayed on with the fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker until her departure at the end of “The Hand of Fear” series.
The Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith, played by Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen, in "The Ark in Space"
Sladen actually was the first character to have a spin off project from Doctor Who. She starred in the pilot of the K-9 and Company series, but it was not further developed. She would appear as a guest in The Five Doctors episode in the early eighties as well as several other non-canonical Doctor Who related projects.
The Return of Sarah Jane Smith
I was thrilled when the BBC relaunched the Doctor Who franchise in 2005. The quality of the series was perhaps at it’s highest values (although I love the old Doctor’s!). But I was thrilled when Elisabeth Sladen reprised her role as Sarah Jane Smith in “The School Reunion” two part episode. This appearance led to further guest spots as well as ultimately her own spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures. In the course of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sladen was involved in cross-over story arcs with both Doctor Who and Torchwood, as she worked to detect aliens on earth.
The return of Sarah Jane Smith to the world of Doctor Who
Sarah Jane Smith – The Favorite Companion
For a lot of us who grew up with Sarah Jane Smith, there is no doubt that she is probably the companion that we think of when we think of the Doctor. I suppose a lot of it depends on when you watched Doctor Who and just how many versions of the Doctor that you have experienced. Personally, Elisabeth Sladen will always be my go to companion, just as she was for the Third and Fourth Doctors.