Elisabeth Sladen: An appreciation of the 'Doctor Who' actress
Whenever Doctor Who fans gather together, it usually doesn’t take long before the question arises over the identity of the best “Doctor” of all-time. Far less often do followers of the BBC sci-fi show debate the identity of the best Doctor’s “companion.” Why? Largely because — with all due respect to Billie Piper, Karen Gillan, Nicola Bryant, Katy Manning et. al. — it is widely agreed that the best ever actor to play Watson to the Doctor’s Holmes was Elisabeth Sladen, who portrayed investigative reporter Sarah Jane Smith on the show, and who died earlier today.
The actress joined Doctor Who in 1973 and had the good fortune to appear opposite two excellent Doctors: Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. But Sladen more than held her own as she battled Daleks, Cybermen, and other alien adversaries. The character of the plucky Sarah Jane proved so lastingly popular with fans that, thirty years after originally departing the TARDIS in 1976, the actress returned to the role to front the spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures.
However, it is was that initial onscreen farewell between Sarah Jane and Tom Baker’s Doctor which came to mind when I heard of Sladen’s death. I’ve embedded the sequence below. If you can watch it without getting something in your eye then you are a stronger person — or a lesser Whovian — than I.