Goodbye Sarah Jane

Gutted to hear this week of the death of Elisabeth Sladen, aka Sarah Jane Smith from Dr Who.

I know there’s a whole generation of folk out there for whom Dr Who starts with Christopher Eccleston. But for Brits over the age of 40, the legacy of Dr Who goes back a long, long way.

My earliest memory of Dr Who is watching Jon Pertwee regenerate into Tom Baker, while the Doctor’s Assistant, Sarah Jane, looked on. Sarah Jane was always my favourite assistant. Part of the reason was she had the same name as me – maybe spelled differently, but as a kid, before I worked out we were a dime a dozen (and most of us were born in the UK in the late 1960s, but that’s a different story), that was a big deal.

I also liked the fact Sarah Jane was a strong-minded kind of woman. True she was always getting into trouble, but she was a reporter, and as such she tended to poke about in places she shouldn’t.

Thirty years after Elisabeth Sladen left the series, Sarah Jane returned to meet David Tennant’s Doctor. How many actresses get to play the same character thirty years on?

Sarah Jane’s return led to a spin-off children’s programme, The Sarah Jane adventures.

Sarah Jane Smith was an integral part of my childhood, and it was a delight to see her return to the TV in recent years looking, it has to be said, not a lot different thirty years on.

As a tribute I attach two clips of Sarah Jane saying goodbye to the Doctor. The first, from 1976, marks Elisabeth Sladen’s departure from the show at the end of “The Hand of Fear”, which I still count as one of the scariest of the Doctor’s adventures (I had nightmares for weeks).

The second clip is from the Sarah Jane adventures, with Sarah Jane saying goodbye to David Tennant’s doctor.

Goodbye, Sarah Jane. I feel a part of my childhood has died with you.


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