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Doctor Who – Star Elizabeth Sladen dies of cancer

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Sarah Jane Adventures - Elisabeth Sladen
Sarah Jane Adventures - Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) © BBC

Elizabeth Sladen, star of Sarah Jane Adventures and Doctor Who has died today of cancer.


In 1973 Elizabeth Sladen joined Doctor Who as Sarah Jane Smith, becoming a companion to Jon Pertwee’s Doctor during his last year in the title role. She went on to act opposite Tom Baker’s Doctor for a further two and a half years. She starred in the one-off programme K-9 and Company in 1981, but it was never taken up as a series. In 1983 she appeared in the Doctor Who 20th Anniversary episode The Five Doctors.

After reprising her role again in 2006 in an episode of the re-launched Doctor Who, she starred in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. The show first aired in 2007 and has had four series transmitted so far, with production on a fifth series already underway. The show won a Royal Television Award earlier this year.

The production term were aware of Elizabeth Sladen’s cancer but it was not widely known to the show audience so her death will come as a shock to many. She died this morning aged 63.

The original show runner of the re-launched Doctor Who series and creator of the Sarah Jane Adventures Russell T Davies said it was “devastating and so sad” and added it was an “honour to have worked with her”. The current show runner on Doctor Who Steven Moffat described her as a “ferociously talented actress'”.

I met her on several occasions, once while shooting on location for The Five Doctors, and on another occasion she was at a convention and posed for some photographs, only to realise later she was not looking her best. She asked me not to use those, promising to spare some time later to pose for some more.

She kept her promise not long after and gave me her time at the British Satellite Broadcasting studios where I took some lovely shots of her with the TARDIS console. The photograph was later used as a magazine cover. I found her sweet, and she obviously cared how her fans would see her. Today’s news hit me like the death of a friend, such was the impact of my brief times with her.