R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen (1948-2011)

Elisabeth Sladen, who has played the most popular, most enduring companion in the history of DOCTOR WHO, the irrepressible Sarah Jane Smith, on and off since 1973, has died at age 63, following a battle with cancer.

There’s a saying in DOCTOR WHO fandom that the first Doctor you ever saw was “your Doctor.” Well, by that measure, Sladen’s plucky Sarah Jane was “my companion.” She and the well-meaning but bumbling Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) were the companions for Genesis of the Daleks,” the very first DOCTOR WHO story I remember seeing, way back in the primitive days of late 1970s syndication. Back then, WWOR Channel 9 out of New York City purchased a bloc of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor stories, and introduced them to a benighted America that had previously never known the Time Lord. I vividly recall her in that yellow rain slicker and blue knit cap, clambering over the rocks.
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