I began my lifelong love affair with Doctor Who in ’96, right after the made-for-tv movie aired and I was twelve years old. It didn’t take me long to discover old episodes of the show would play every Friday night from 10 to midnight. It wasn’t a school night so I was allowed to stay up late, and because I liked to watch them again and again over the course of the next week, I had a VCR tape that I would reuse to record each episode. I fondly remember falling asleep on the couch as the Doctor and Sarah battled alien hordes.
Elisabeth Sladen passed away this past Tuesday after a long and vicious battle with cancer. She is best known as the third and fourth Doctor’s constant companion. Later, after the series reboot, she reprised her role as the tenth Doctor’s companion for one episode (“School Reunion”) and was then the star of her own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, complete with K-9, the Doctor’s faithful cyber-hound.
For so many, myself included, Sarah Jane was their favorite companion. Spunky, witty, and good looking (even in overalls), she captured the screen opposite Tom Baker. She was the eternal yin to his fiery yang, a voice of reason or retort whenever his head, or hair, got too big. She was the quintessential companion very much as Tom Baker was the quintessential Doctor. Her death comes as a complete shock to so many, cruelly thrusting us into sadness that should have come much, much later. It just doesn’t seem fair that a personality as sweet and bright as hers should disappear so soon.
May you freely travel through the stars now, Sarah Jane. Here, you’ll be missed.