Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Elisabeth Sladen, R.I.P.

She was The Doctor's best friend (and if you have to ask "Doctor who?" you're almost there). Elisabeth Sladen, aka Sarah Jane Smith, was the iconic companion of my early days as a Whovian (along with Leela, but that's a story for another day), and it was easy to see why so many fell in love with her. She was sassy and spunky (in that Lou Grant-to-Mary Tyler Moore way), and she had a sexy wholesomeness or a wholesome sexiness, whichever you prefer, that was irrestible.  And, confidentially, I've always been a sucker for Lis spelled with an s.

Lis Sladen played Sarah Jane Smith for two Doctors, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, and was the first companion to have her own spin-off (K-9 and Company, a one-off, and for the last few years The Sarah Jane Chronicles.  Her departure from the series in 1976 was heartbreaking not only for the Doctor, but for her fans as well - and, as we found out a couple of seasons ago when she returned to the show as a guest star, it was heartbreaking for her character as well.  And what great news it was when she did reprise Sarah Jane, and then star in the spin-off.  It was as if time stood still for a moment, which is (after all) a good thing to happen when you're dealing with Time Lords.

But as we too-often find out, whenever time does stand still, even if it's only briefly, it has to start up again - and when it stops a second time, it's usually for good.  Elisabeth Sladen died this morning from cancer, at the age of 62. Here is the story from the Doctor Who News Page, along with tributes from the Doctor Who family.  Combined with the death a few months ago of Nick Courtney, the iconic Brigadier, it's been a sobering time for Doctor Who fans, aleviated only by the debut of the new season on BBC America this Saturday.  Which just goes to show, I suppose, that life goes on, or whatever that hoary old cliche is about death and birth.

Ah, Lis, you were way too young to leave us, and today we suddenly feel that much older.  
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