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A look back at Elisabeth Sladen

Elizabeth Sladen Tribute

 

  It's the strangest feeling in the world when you lose someone you have never personally known and yet it feels like I have lost one of my oldest and dearest friends. Last week the world lost the fantastic British actress Elisabeth Sladen, and with her passing a small piece of my childhood also seemed to pass away.

 

  I grew up watching Elisabeth Sladen and Tom Baker on Doctor Who reruns airing stateside on PBS (public broadcast stations), they were two of my heroes as a child.

 

  Elisabeth Sladen was more than just an actress; she was a loving wife and mother. She was a classically trained ballet dancer and had appeared as a mouse in a production with the Royal Ballet.   

 

Elisabeth Sladen Ballet Dancer

 

  Acting was her great passion and it was on stage that she would meet the other great passion of her life Brian Miller, whom she married in 1968. Unlike many actors that get married the couple was together until the end, a true statement to their love. Elisabeth and Brian also had a daughter together named Sadie who was born in 1985.

 

Brian Miller, Elisabeth Sladen, Sadie Miller

  Brian Miller with his wife Elisabeth Sladen         Sadie Miller with her mother Elisabeth Sladen

 

  Sladen attended the Elliott Clarke Drama School for two years and worked as an assistant stage manager for the Liverpool Playhouse repertory company. She did such a great job as an assistant stage manager that she found it hard to get onto the stage to act and began to make mistakes in this position on purpose so she would get cast.

 

  After touring with the company she settled down in Manchester and she began landing several small roles on television, including a small part on one of the highest rated and longest running soaps Coronation Street.

 

  The role that most of the world would come to know her for Sarah Jane Smith, came when she was cast as the newest of the Doctor's companions, replacing Jo Grant (Katy Manning) on the hit sci fi television series Doctor Who. The character of Sarah Jane Smith would become one of the most beloved characters in television history.

 

  Sladen stayed on the series from 1973-1976, playing alongside both Jon Pertwee and later on Tom Baker. When she left the series it sent a shockwave across the world that is usually only reserved for when the role of the Doctor himself is changed.

 

Sarah and the Doctors

 

  Like many sci fi actors she found that the role never left her and in 1981 she was tapped to play the role of Sarah Jane Smith once more in the attempted creation of a Doctor Who spin off series called K-9 and Company. However the show was not picked up and only the pilot was ever aired as a special.

 

K-9 and Company

 

  The 20th anniversary special for Doctor Who (The Five Doctors) in 1983 would bring many of the old cast back together including Elisabeth Sladen.

 

  The character of Sarah Jane Smith would come back in a new format when Big Finish Productions decided to do two series of audio dramas based around the character. Big Finish Productions had already released several original and successful audio dramas featuring the character of the Doctor and his past companions in entirely new adventures.

 

Big Finish Doctors

 

Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith Big Finish Covers

 

  In 2006 Sladen would once more take on the mantle of Sarah Jane Smith appearing in the new Doctor Who series beside David Tennant in the episode "School Reunion". The audience demanded more and the BBC once again offered Sladen the chance at a spin off series this time called "The Sarah Jane Adventures".

 

The Sarah Jane Adventures

 

 

  The Sarah Jane Adventures were targeted at a younger audience and the series was a smashing success for the CBBC. A better role model than Sarah Jane Smith for your children on television you would not find in this day and age, and a new generation was exposed to great sci fi drama, just as I had been when I was a child. Rumor has it that there are still three episodes of the current season to be released yet. It seemed as if nothing in the world could stop her.

 

  Elisabeth Claira Heath Sladen passed away on April 19, 2011 after losing her battle to cancer; she is survived by her daughter Sadie Isabelle Amy Miller and her husband Brian Miller. Our condolences go out to her friends and family as do I am sure those of millions of Mrs. Sladen's fans across the world. It's hard to write about the loss of such a wonderful woman that I can only imagine the pain that her family must be going through. I have lost one of my heroes this day, but someone else has lost a loving wife and a young woman has lost her mother.

 

Good Bye Elisabeth,

  ~Christopher Gravuer

 

Good Bye Sarah Jane Smith

 

 

Elisabeth Sladen R.I.P.

 

  To see a great video tribute for the role that made her famous, check out BabelColour's video below.

 

 

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