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RIP Elisabeth Sladen

This news came an enormous shock today. I am deeply saddened to pass on the news that actress Elisabeth Sladen, who portrayed companion Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who, has passed away at the age of 63. Sladen portayed who to many is THE companion from 1973-1976 during what was arguably the show’s best and most successful period. Sladen returned to the role of the plucky news reporter in 1981’s spinoff attempt K-9 & Company as well as in “The Five Doctors,” Doctor Who‘s 20th Anniversary special. In 2006, she appeared in the new series episode “School Reunion,” which would lead to her own successful spinoff series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which will air its fifth season some time this year.

This comes just months after the passing of another fan favorite, Nicholas Courtney, who portrayed the Brigadier. I am quite devastated by this news, as I’m sure most Doctor Who fans are, not the least of which because she was so young and we were still seeing her on our screens as the character many have loved for such a long time. We here at Nerdist offer our most sincere and deepest condolences to Ms. Sladen’s family and friends during this very sad time.

Feel free to use the comments to celebrate and remember Elisabeth Sladen and Sarah Jane.


Images: BBC

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  1. Janie says:

    Super sad.

  2. Alyssa says:

    This came as such a shock! I was such a huge fan of Sarah Jane a’s a kid, and even more so an adult. Adding my prayers for her family.

  3. jess says:

    RIP a talented actress at your best in sarah jane adventures. by far my favourite actress you will be sadly missed by many. My thoughts and prayers go out to elizabeths family and friends god bless xxxx

  4. Sara says:

    So sad. First Nicholas Courtney and now her. I’m absolutly devestated. Sarah Jane Smith was one of my favorite Companions, just like The Brigadier himself actually. I didn’t even know she was sick! This comes as a great shock, I can hardly believe it. :'(
    RIP Elisabeth Sladen. You will be missed.

  5. Josh K says:

    I’m definitely in denial phase right now. It’s just unbelievable. I literally just finished watching Hand of Fear (her last story) last week.

    It’s amazing that so little people knew she was even dealing with cancer. My father was diagnosed last year at 64 and was able to beat it. I wish Mrs. Sladen could have been as lucky. I hope her husband and daughter had enough time cope and say goodbye. My thoughts go out to them. Farwell Sarah.

  6. Kanye Twitty says:

    The TARDIS feels even bigger inside today.

  7. Horsehead says:

    She will be missed by me, my son & all Doctor Who fans. Keep investigating

  8. Leif says:

    Sincere Goodbye Elisabeth,
    I hope to see you in the hereafter.

    You will be missed.

  9. Kristina says:

    This was a real shock, I didn’t even know she was sick. When I first saw this news, I rewatched the original farewell to the doctor and I was laughing and crying. Now I’m just sad.
    Sarah Jane was my favorite companion, and Elisabeth Sladen played her beautifully. I will never forget her.

  10. Keenan says:

    School Reunion is one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who. I loved seeing Sarah Jane fighting with Rose for the affections of the Doctor. Only Elisabeth could pull that off with a woman half her age and not seem forced or silly.

    Farewell Elisabeth Sladen we will never forget you.

  11. Kyle says:

    Very sad news to hear that Elizabeth Sladen has passed away. She was kind, generous and a very talented actress. She will be terribly missed. When I was a kid the classic Doctor Who series was on re-runs on TV and I remember Elizabeth and Tom Baker going on their wild adventures across the universe. Good memories. Rest in peace for all time Elizabeth Sladen.

  12. Jackfan12 says:

    This so sad:( As I write this tears are filling up my eyes. If you have yet to see her first join the doctor, it is a recommended must. Just to hear her first introduce the character of Sarah Jane Smith to the doctor is exciting. She will be missed.

  13. Scott S says:

    I had no idea she was dying of cancer, and when I saw on IMDB that she’d died I was surprised.

    I saw her run on Dr Who when I was a teen in the 80’s, and always had a special place for her, and the name Sarah Jane. I’ve even watched the Sarah Jane Adventures, which usually didn’t get to be more than a decent enough kids’ show, because of her. She will be missed.

  14. Larry says:

    Sad sad news, before my time (I was born around the Colin Baker/Sylvester McCoy era) but was lucky enough to have seen many of the Tom Baker episodes, its a tragic loss. Im not a christian by any means but shes going to a place where the Tardis cant. 🙁

  15. Sean says:

    Sad . . . The first Doctor Who I ever watched was the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen.) What a loss and 63 is so young today.

  16. Daniel S says:

    This really did make me sad, I saw it on Facebook and my stomach dropped, I thought it was fake until I clicked the link and it went to the BBC website, Sarah Jane Smith was one of the greatest characters in the Doctor Who universe and Elizabeth Sladen was an amazing actress, I think I will watch the stolen earth/journey’s end and probably end up crying tonight.

  17. This unexpected news hit hard at our house. Lis Sladen made such a strong impression on my wife and me back in the 80s that we named our daughter Sarah Jane. I have problems putting my sadness into words. Like others have said, it’s almost like losing a family member.

  18. Henrik says:

    No comment. Busy crying.

  19. Kenny Porter says:

    I’m really heartbroken to hear this. “School Reunion” was one of the first episodes I saw and I fell in love with, then researched the older incarnations of the Doctor. In a way, Sladen was responsible for my “schooling” of DOCTOR WHO in the first place. She will be missed. I was really hoping she was going to make an appearance in the Matt Smith episodes. Goodnight you wonderful actress, your curtain has fallen, but we remember your performance.

  20. PaulH says:

    …and I find her voice-over for the opening credits of “Sarah Jane Adventures” amazing. She aged gracefully, and seemed classy as well.

  21. PaulH says:

    A little piece of my childhood died today. I usually don’t feel too sad when actors pass, but this one hit me. “School Reunion” had me in tears, guess I’ll have to rewatch tonight. Like a previous poster said, its like hearing a favorite aunt passed away.

  22. Kat says:

    I found out via some community posts on my Facebook feed.

    It was something like finding out ones favorite aunt had died. I’m still in a state of horrified shock. She seemed so healthy and full of life. I’m utterly gutted and terribly sad.

    After the loss of Courtney, an actor and Companion I also admired and treasured, it’s almost too much to bear.

    I can’t believe I am so distraught about the loss of a woman I never met and was utterly unaware of as recently as five years ago, but I am devastated nonetheless.

    Thank you ever so much for your lovely, lovely, self and your passionate work on Doctor Who for all these years, Ms. Sladen. Rest in Peace.

  23. Mattchik says:

    Terrible news. Mitch Benn’s rather poignant little DW companion song seems appropriate:

  24. The2scoops says:

    Just gutted to hear this. I grew up watching her in Doctor Who. When she reappeared in “School Reunion”, it was like a visit from an old friend who you didn’t know you’d see again. Her scenes with Tennant with her anger at being left behind and the sheer uncontainable joy Tennant had at being onscreen with Elisabeth just gets me everytime. I’m glad the love of her fans brought her back for a new generation to fall in love with. Thanks, and good-bye Sarah Jane.

  25. Chad H says:

    I’m completely fucking floored by this, I can’t believe it.

  26. Kev Weldon says:

    Sadly, the planned fifth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures had yet to begin shooting, so we won’t be seeing any more of her. Appropriately enough the last episode was titled “Goodbye Sarah Jane Smith”

  27. Brian E says:

    So sad to hear this! I loved SJ from when I first saw her with the 10th Doctor. Went back and watched some of her 3rd and 4th Doctor adventures. Such a super character and what an utterly charming and wonderful woman she was in real life.

    What a terrible loss.

    Here’s to you Elisabeth. I’ll watch one of your eps tonight.

  28. raftrap says:

    So sad, so completely unexpected, and it just makes her last episode with the eleventh Doctor so beautifully appropriate, my deepest condolences to her family, it’s a sad, sad day for TV, she will be missed.

  29. Lokey says:

    This is so incredibly sad…I really, really want it to be a hoax. As far as companions go, Sarah Jane was the best. Even in her short return to the new series…she stole the spotlight. I truly believe what made the character so great was that Elisabeth herself was such a wonderful, beautiful person. I will cherish each and every one of my childhood memories of her. Rest in peace Elisabeth…you will be missed.

  30. MP says:

    This is devastating news. She has aged so well and was still so young that I never expected this. Sarah was the first companion I ever saw, starting from when I first discovered who with The Pyramids of Mars showing on my local station in 1978. She has always been and continues to be my favorite Who companion. So sad.

  31. JP says:

    They say you never forget your first Doctor… well you never forget your first companion either.

    I had a huge crush on Sarah Jane…

  32. Jacob says:

    Can’t say I expected to hear this news today. So sad. I honestly didn’t think that she would die before Tom Baker. Wonder how sad Tom Baker feels right about now.

  33. matt says:

    Very sorry to hear the sad news. I grew up watching Dr Who and Elisabeth. she was perfect as the assistant, she has not changed much in nearly 40 years, very very sad. will be sorely missed by everyone connected to her.

  34. Mobilediesel says:

    I had to comment but I can’t find the words for this.

  35. Wesley Marshall says:

    This is so sad, she was one of my favorite Who companions and I really liked her spin off show as well. She was one of the few female characters that you felt were strong in 70’s Doctor Who. R.I.P Elisabeth Sladen.

  36. bob canada says:

    What a shock. This news hit me as hard as if a member of my own family had died.

    I’ve just been watching Season 2 of SJA this month, and thinking how great she looked and how much I enjoyed seeing her on the show. I am thoroughly depressed now.

  37. adel says:

    The Brigadier and now Sarah Jane…what is happening to our world ?? This is very sad!

  38. I’m really hoping that this is some faux pas. If not then a huge hug from me to all of you. RIP Ms. Sladen you were a fantastic lady

  39. Robin Burks says:

    I am so beyond sad. Sarah Jane was a hero of mine.

  40. Liz C. says:

    I feel so saddened, and so cheated by the unfairness of this. As a new fan, I’ve only just started to enjoy her work on Doctor Who, and I adore both her and Sarah Jane.

    Proof positive that life, and death, just aren’t fair. I will be watching a Sarah Jane ep tonight in your honor, Miss Sladen. You left us FAR too soon.