When Elisabeth Sladen joined Doctor Who in 1973, little did anyone realise the significant impact she would make.
Back then, she accompanied The Doctor across a new chapter of intergalactic adventures as the plucky Sarah Jane Smith. Nowadays, she’s quite possibly the most famous companion of all. Certainly, she’s the one that all others strive to be.
What can we possibly say about Elisabeth Sladen that hasn’t already been said? Working alongside both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, Sarah Jane was the freelance journalist that put The Doctor through his paces. She debuted in The Time Warrior and made her exit in The Hand of Fear. What’s more, the Sarah Jane years are some of the finest in Doctor Who history. Sladen’s character served as the companion for classics like Planet of the Spiders and Genesis of the Daleks. Her tenure stays in our memories fondly, not least thanks to her excellent performances.
“I had NO trouble with space-stuff. I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe!”
Sladen’s character proved so popular that she couldn’t escape from the world of Doctor Who for long. She reprised her role in spin-off K-9 and Company before returning for The Five Doctors. She triumphantly came back in 2006’s School Reunion as an ally of The Tenth Doctor. This would also lead to appearances in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End and The End of Time. Along the way she starred in a brand new series, The Sarah Jane Adventures. This CBBC spin-off saw her keeping the Earth safe in The Doctor’s absence. However, she did cross paths with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors on two special occasions! The show ran for five successful series, only coming to an end because of Sladen’s sad passing in 2011.
Today, on what would have been her 71st birthday, let us remember the brilliant work of Elisabeth Sladen. Particularly, let us remember all the magic she brought to Doctor Who over the years. There will never be another like her, and the series is all the richer for her involvement.