Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Deceased--Elisabeth Sladen

Elisabeth Sladen
February 1st, 1946 to April 19th, 2011

"Doctor Who's Elisabeth Sladen mourned by fans and co-stars"

Former Doctor Tom Baker joins thousands of fans to pay tribute to late Sarah Jane Smith actor Elisabeth Sladen

Elisabeth Sladen dies age 63


Guy Clapperton

April 20th, 2011

The premature death of Elisabeth Sladen has prompted heartfelt tributes from her former Doctor Who colleagues as well as two generations of viewers – those who remembered her as companon Sarah Jane Smith in the 70s, and those still enjoying her performance in the Sarah Jane Adventures which came to screen in 2006.

Tom Baker, who was the second actor to play the Doctor alongside Sladen, wrote on his website: "She can't be dead. But she is, she died yesterday morning. Cancer. I had no idea she was ill; she was so private, never wanted any fuss, and now, gone. A terrible blow to her friends and a shattering blow for all those fans of the programme whose lives were touched every Saturday evening by her lovely heroic character."

Sladen, the only Doctor Who companion to merit her own series, played Sarah Jane from 1974-1977 with Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, revived the part briefly for the specials K-9 and Company and The Five Doctors in the 1980s, returned to the character on audio, and then reappeared on the renewed TV series with David Tennant in 2006.

It was this last appearance that led to Sladen being given her own spin-off, which has enjoyed four series on CBBC. She made numerous other appearances on TV from Coronation Street to Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, and performed widely in theatre, but she will be remembered primarily for playing the Doctor's first successful independent-minded companion.

Sarah Jane was a journalist who knew her own mind and would on occasion rescue the Doctor as well as scream to be rescued herself. Her entry into the series coincided with the introduction of a more gothic, horror-oriented approach from the production team for which the early Tom Baker era is fondly remembered.

Nicholas Briggs, the modern-day voice of the Daleks on TV, said: "Only yesterday I was filming a DVD extra in which I was talking with such heartfelt passion about how she was so 'luminous' on screen and how brilliant she was as Sarah Jane Smith. And that is the truth. For so many of us, she was the ultimate Doctor Who companion."

Radio and audio producer Neil Gardner also stressed her professionalism on his Hokusbloke blog. "Lis was a genuinely fantastic person … someone who cared passionately about her character, her work, her family, her friends and her colleagues," he says.

Writers of her audio series also piled in online. David Bishop said she chose one of his scripts to perform: "She sent me a lovely, handwritten letter of thanks afterwards, one of few mementoes I've bothered to keep."

But the biggest outpouring has been from people who watched her on TV. Fan sites and their owners' Twitter feeds went into overdrive;. The editor of Doctor Who magazine said he felt "drained" and regretted not getting the chance to say goodbye, and SFX Magazine's blog said: "Many of us had met Lis over the years and she was always charming, funny, generous and, simply, a completely lovely person."

While many fans were surprised by Sarah Jane's return to delight a modern generation, with hindsight it was an obvious decision. Sladen would often attend fan events both small and big, and would patiently sign autographs and pose for photographs, treating everyone with absolute courtesy.

Social networking sites have made it easy for people without blogs or semi-official outlets to leave their own messages. On Twitter, DrTweetE said she was a "TV Hero", KrisTheScript just said it was "heartbreaking", frostmourned said she was "devastated", CDSorter was shocked and saddened and said Sladen was "truly a companion that bridged the Dr Who generations". Jenjenpen said: "It feels as though the internet is crying. I wonder if she had any idea just how many lives she touched."

On Facebook fans put up not only messages but links to some of Sladen's most popular appearances on TV, including the BBC's own compilation of clips on YouTube.

Finally – and this brief tribute reflects only a handful of the tributes paid – the Den of Geek website lists a slew of warm words from fans on its Facebook page, but finishes: "There's perhaps no more fitting way to pay tribute to Elisabeth Sladen than to support your local cancer charities in her name."

Delia Derbyshire--revival for "Doctor Who"

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