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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Doctor Who’s Sarah Jane is dead

Elizabeth Sladen: 1948–2011
Those who aren’t Doctor Who fans can look away if they wish, but there are many gay people who are fans (a disproportionate number, some have said), so it’s sad news that Doctor Who companion Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith, has died of cancer.

She was one of the early companions when she was young, but a spin-off series called The Sarah Jane Adventures came about only a few years ago and was shown on the BBC kids’ channel, CBBC. Although an adult approaching my prime (ahem!), I watched it, because I loved her character (and it was part of my longstanding loyalty to the Who franchise). As well as being, for me, a wonderful actress in this role, she was very attractive, and didn’t look her 63 years (probably 59 or 60 when she began in The Sarah Jane Adventures).

Sometimes, the death of one person you didn’t know affects you more than that of another person you didn’t know. It’s subjective, but there it is.

One scene sticks in my mind. When the older Sarah Jane met the Doctor again for the first time in years (it was the David Tennant Doctor, the tenth), there was a kind of electricity between the two actors’ faces. She knew who he was, of course (probably his having just stepped out of the TARDIS was a bit of a giveaway), but that brief moment displayed in a few facial expressions something of her power as an actor – something maybe not as easy to achieve in the clinical, stop-go environment of a studio as on a stage, where an actor is very much immersed in the character from 7.30 to 9.30.

I suspect the Doctor Who fan sites are lit up with tributes. You can make a start, if you’re interested, by going to this one, which gives a roundup of the press reaction to Sladen’s death, and links to obits and tributes galore.

1 comment:

quedula said...

Very sad about this. so young too :(