Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy Belated Birthday To Elizabeth Sladen!

                Sometimes in a long running television show with a revolving door cast policy,there comes one character that an audience comes to embrace as much as they might a member of their own family. In the case of Doctor Who,it's likely that honor would have go to the character of Sarah-Jane Smith-portrayed by the late Elizabeth Sladen. Sladen passed away of cancer on April 19'th 2011 having been diagnosed with cancer only months earlier. Having only played on the original Doctor Who series for three years,spanning the final series of Jon Pertwee's third doctor and the entirety of the first two series of Tom Baker's run in the role. Yet at the same time she not only reprized the role on audio books,a spin off TV show,anniversary specials such as The Five Doctors in 1983 and later in the modern day Doctor Who series alongside David Tennent in the story School Reunion.

                Sladen started acting very early in her life,from school plays alongside English political figure Edwina Currie. She made her first film appearance in the 1964 film Ferry Cross The Mersey as an uncredited extra. She than went onto play Hero in the Hillbark Players production of Much Ado About Nothing. She than moved onto the Liverpool Playhouse staring in other Shakespeare productions before moving onto more television work. It was on the set on one such show,The Physicists  that she made her future husband with which she'd later have a daughter Sadie Miller. It was her role in the BBC TV show  Z-Cars that led to producer Ron Craddock recommending her to Doctor Who producer Barry Letts as the successor to Katy Manning's Jo Grant when Katy decided to leave the show. What aside from this made Sarah-Jane Smith such a renowned Doctor Who assistant?

               One of the qualities was that Sarah was always a character who asked questions,learned as much as she could and was genuinely helpful to the doctor on his quest for justice and adventure. Her close friendship with the character,especially during the Tom Baker era was helped by the fact she was a confident,level headed individual as well as a proud and vocal supporter of women's rights. She helped bring Doctor Who into another age. And the brother/sister camaraderie she shared with the doctor allowed her to have an uncommon bond with her unlike some of his other assistants. Even as late as her final meeting with the doctor,in his eleventh incarnation,it was clear he never did forget about Sarah-Jane Smith. Much the same way Whovians from anywhere will doubtless forget Elizabeth Sladen. 
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