The news has gone through the Whoivan Universe like a thunderbolt.
Discussion, remembrances and mourning can be found all over the Internet. At the time this was written, her name was the second most searched item on Yahoo.
One truly has to wonder if even she understood all of the lives she had touched and blessed with her work.
The news came first via Twitter and other parts of the social network sites, but was unconfirmed until the BBC issued a statement that the sad news was true: Elisabeth Sladen, who fellow “Doctor Who” cast member John Barrowman called the “Matriarch of ‘Doctor Who,’” had passed from this world at the age of 63.
While The Doctor can regenerate himself, sadly his companions can not and thus, with Sladen’s passing, we have lost the most beloved of the Doctor’s companions, Sarah Jane Smith.
I first discovered “Doctor Who” during the tenure of the fourth Doctor, the legendary Tom Baker. It was the chemistry between Baker and Sladen that made the show truly magical for me. In this team, not only did you have the irrepressible Doctor, but you had an intelligent, strong woman who asked questions and wasn’t afraid to investigate for herself.
Even after she left the series, she continued to champion it, and returned for special appearances over the years. One of the most magical ones was during the 10th Doctor’s run, when Sarah Jane is standing beholding the Tardis once again, and hears a voice saying, “Hello Sarah Jane.”
Airlock Alpha editor Alan Stanley Blair calls that scene “a goose bump moment.” Not only was it full of goosebumps, but it was a rebirth. The series was reborn and soaring to even greater heights and sudden, there she was, once again with her beloved Doctor.
Afterward, it was decided to give the character her own show, and thus, “The Sarah Jane Adventures” was launched. I remember watching it on Syfy when it ran on there for two of its four seasons and was truly amazed at how Sladen returned to that beloved role with the ease of a person putting on a comfortable outfit.
When the news of her passing broke, along with the hearts of Whovians worldwide, the tributes began. Current “Doctor Who” executive producer Steven Moffat stated, “’Never meet your heroes’ wise people say. There weren’t thinking of Lis Sladen. Sarah Jane Smith was everybody’s hero when I was younger, and as brave and funny and brilliant as people only ever are in stories. But many years later, when I met the real Sarah Jane – Lis Sladen herself – she was exactly as any child ever have wanted her to be. Kind and gentle and clever; and a ferociously talented actress, of course, but in that perfectly English unassuming way.”
Russell T. Davies, creator of “The Sarah Jane Adventures,” stated in an interview, “I absolutely loved Lis. She was funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful. The universe was lucky to have Sarah Jane Smith, the world was lucky to have Lis.”
John Barrowman shared his thoughts on Sladen via his Twitter account. He wrote, “Elisabeth Sladen, Matriarch of ‘Doctor Who’ I loved my time on the Tardis with her. I am proud to have worked with such an icon of the sci-fi world. Your Doctor Who family are very sad and will miss you and your beautiful smile.” Barrowman went on to say, “Can’t tell you how sad I am.”
When I got the text, alerting me to this sad news, my mind flashed back to a very special moment and quote from Sarah Jane herself that fits this time of grief. I remembered the first episode of “The Sarah Jane Adventures,” when she looks up into the heavens from her swing, after the first adventure, and made this statement, “Life on Earth can be an adventure, too. You just need to know where to look.”
Sadly, Elisabeth Sladen’s adventures on this earth has come to the end and she has journeyed where even The Doctor hasn’t gone, into that great final frontier which awaits all of us mortals. However, thanks to the miracle of video recording, her work and legacy will continue to be available to be shared with generations in the future, forever journeying with The Doctor.
I know that all of us send our love, our thoughts, and our prayers out to her husband, actor Brian Miller, her daughter, Sadie, and all of her friends and family at this time. She will live on in the hearts and souls of all of those who she has left behind. I know her fans will continue to remember her, speak of her, and, in the words of David Tennant in a video he made for AIRC.org.uk, will make sure that cancer does not get the last word about her.
Au Revoir, Sarah Jane. Second Star to the right, and straight on till morning!