20/04/2011. Contributed by Jessica Martin
Elisabeth Sladen, the actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and CBBC's The Sarah Jane Adventures, had sadly passed away far too young from cancer at the age of 63.
Lis first appeared as Sarah Jane in Doctor Who in 1973 alongside the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, and stayed for three and half seasons working alongside Jon and the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. She returned to the role on numerous occasions over the years and, in 2007, was given her own spin-off series on CBBC – The Sarah Jane Adventures – where she then appeared alongside new Doctors David Tennant and Matt Smith.
Steven Moffat, Doctor Who's lead writer and executive producer said: 'Never meet your heroes' wise people say. They 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. There are a blessed few who can carry a whole television show on their talent and charisma – but I can't think of one other who's done it quite so politely. I once showed my son Joshua an old episode of Doctor Who, in which Lis appeared. 'But that's Sarah Jane,' he said, confused, 'In old Doctor Who. From years ago. How come she always look exactly the same?' It's not a comfort today, of course, but children will still be saying that 50 years from now.'
Controller of CBBC Damian Kavanagh said, 'I'm deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Lis' untimely death. Lis brought joy, excitement and a sense of wonder to her many fans in her role as Sarah Jane Smith. She was adored by our young audience and I know all of them will miss her as much as I will.'
The creator of The Sarah Jane Adventures Russell T Davies added, '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.'
David Tennant said: 'I just can't believe that Lis is gone. She seemed invincible. The same woman who enchanted my childhood, enchanted my time on Doctor Who and enchanted generations who have watched her and fallen in love with her – just like I did. I feel very honoured to have shared a TARDIS with Sarah Jane Smith, and I feel very lucky to have shared some time with Lis Sladen. She was extraordinary.'
Current Doctor Matt Smith finished off by saying, 'What struck me about Lis was her grace. She welcomed me, educated me, and delighted me with her tales and adventures on Doctor Who. And she also seemed to have a quality of youth that not many people retain as they go through life. Her grace and kindness will stay with me because she had such qualities in abundance and shared them freely. I will miss her, as will the world of Doctor Who and all the Doctors that had the good pleasure to work with Lis Sladen and travel the universe with Sarah Jane.'
Lis had been suffering from cancer. She leaves behind a husband, actor Brian Miller, and her daughter, Sadie.
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