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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Elisabeth Sladen - 1948-2011

Reports have confirmed that the actress Elisabeth Sladen, best kown to fans in the Who universe for have played Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who, one-time spin-off K.9 and Company and her own spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, has sadly died this morning at the age of 63. Sladen first appeared in Doctor Who as beloved character Sarah Jane Smith in 1973 alongside the Third Doctor Jon Pertwee and later with Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, she then made a few more appearances in the show before returning to her character role in 2006 in the Tenth Doctor story School Reunion, as well as several other appearances in later episodes before starring in her own spin-off show as Sarah Jane in The Sarah Jane Adventures. The BBC have released the following press pack:

Doctor Who star Elisabeth Sladen, who was also in spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures, has died aged 63.

Sladen appeared as Doctor Who assistant Sarah Jane Smith in the BBC television sci-fi series between 1973 and 1976 opposite Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

In more recent times the Liverpool-born actress had appeared in four series of The Sarah Jane Adventures on children's channel CBBC.

Sladen, who had a daughter, had been battling cancer for some time.

Sladen first appeared as Sarah Jane alongside the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, and stayed for three-and-a-half seasons, also working with the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker.

Her character, a journalist, was renowned for being inquisitive and stronger than some of the Doctor's other assistants.

After her time in the Tardis, Sladen returned to her native Liverpool where she worked in theatre.

She returned to the role on several occasions over the years and was given her own spin-off series on CBBC in 2007, in which she appeared with the most recent two Doctors, David Tennant and Matt Smith.

A BBC spokesman said: "It is with much sadness that we can announce Elisabeth Sladen, the much-loved actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and CBBC's The Sarah Jane Adventures, passed away this morning. She was 63."

CBBC controller Damian Kavanagh said he was "deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Lis's 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," he said.

Russell T Davies, the creator of The Sarah Jane Adventures, said: "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."

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 fifty years from now.”

Sladen leaves behind actor husband Brian Miller and daughter Sadie.

Sladen has apparently been battling with cancer for some time, she died a true hero among Who fans. Due to her illness, the anticipated fifth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures had to be postponed, the status of the series is currently unknown.