Elisabeth Sladen Has Passed Away. I'm Devastated and Stunned.

Louis Trapani's picture

Louis Trapani - Posted on 19 April 2011

Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith of Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures) has died at the age of 63 I am so sad to report…


I was stunned and dismayed when read the news of passing of Elisabeth Sladen today from a tweet from Gallifrey One. I am at a lost for words. This news came to me very unexpected as I am sure it does for all Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Adventures fans. I don't know what to say at this point. Writer Paul Cornell and actress Nicola Bryant have also confirmed the news by tweeting their sentiments as well. BBC News has also confirmed it in a short statement (now a full obituary).

Details will be forthcoming, but needless to say this news comes completely unexpected for many including myself. Her enthusiasm and energy seen surrounding her own show, The Sarah Jane Adventures seemed unlimited. In fact, her energy seemed to surpass those of her much younger co-stars on the series. She's been battling cancer for some time according to BBC Entertainment reporter Lizo Mzimba.

She leaves behind husband Brian Miller, an actor as well and Sadie, her daughter.

Doctor Who fans were first introduced to her in her role as Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor's companion in the series starting with the 3rd Doctor, Jon Pertwee and continuing on with the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker. She starred in Doctor Who's first spin-off, K9 and Company, a pilot episode for a new series which was never produced in the early 1980s. The opportunity came again after Doctor Who was relaunched in the 21st series and once again she was starring in a new spin-off series, this time, The Sarah Jane Adventures. She appeared in Doctor Who again as the character in the episode 'School Reunion' this time with David Tennant as the 10th Doctor. He later guest starred on her series as well as the current incarnation of the Doctor, Matt Smith.

There is an autobiography by Elisabeth Sladen titled "Who's That Girl" which is due to be published in the UK later this year.

daveac's picture

Sad, Sad news.

As I posted on the BBC News report:-

'So very sad to read this news ... a lovely women and an actress who brought to life a wonderful character (Sarah Jane Smith) in the world of Doctor Who. I know of many friends who are in real shock ... with this news following on as it does from the recent loss of Nicholas Courtney in February of this year.'



Blue Box Bill's picture

Someone so alive. She never aged. It's just unbelievable that she's gone. A sad day for all. Such a loss.

Idiom's picture

One less bright, shining star in the Doctor Who universe.

Sarah Jane Smith is where I came into Doctor Who. Three years old I was and yet The Time Warrior is my first vivid memory or an entire story. So it all started with her. My love affair with the programme and, let's face it, who amongst us wasn't also secretly in love with Sarah. For me the programme wasn't just about the Doctor - it was always the Doctor and Sarah (and for too brief a period, Harry, as well). She was beautiful and so brave (Barry Letts said that when he auditioned for the part there were girls who could do scared and girls who could do brave, but only Elisabeth Sladen could do brave and scared at the same time).

So huge a part of my childhood was she that now as a man and a product of that childhood, I am deeply, deeply saddened. My mother died of cancer at a similar age. Sometimes it feels as if the most beautiful among us never stay too long.

At least the Brig won't be venturing into the unknown alone. Rest in peace, Elisabeth.

I wanted to comment here but the website won't load properly for me so I'll have to write this as a reply instead.

Thanks for your touching comment about Elisabeth Sladen.

I was surprised also to learn that the website wasn't loading properly for you. What browser and OS are you using? I haven't heard of any problems from others yet. 

Idiom's picture

I use internet explorer and (sorry) don't know what OS means. Yes, often the whole page won't link and I can't seem to access the whole thread here.

Reno_Joe's picture

Lis enjoyed SJ, taken her character with gusto and ran with it, making it one of the (non-doc) most popular characters, if not the top, from the show. I m  sure that Russell, Steven and the BBC will have a salute to her somewhere in their shows.

She was a star and will be missed.

Abersoch's picture

I am absolutely gutted to hear this.  She was a true legend and my absolute favourite Doctor Who character (bar none).  I honestly can't believe she's gone and at 63 - that's no age.

This is really going to hurt when it sinks in.

I found this on Youtube:


...be prepared to cry Frown

Louis Trapani's picture

Thanks for the video tribute, I will have to watch it later as I can't watch anything she is in right now. It is just too soon. 

I need to be editing Doctor Who: Podshock now, and all I have are memories of Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith in my head. It's difficult to focus. 

This was so unexpected.

Blue Box Bill's picture

I know exactly what you mean Louis. I thought about watching something with Sarah Jane in it last night but decided against it. She will be missed.

Linquel's picture

Once I got to the privacy of my own home I was pretty upset. I did eventually watch the tribute video Abersoch posted and then watched The Hand of Fear. The "Don't you forget about me" ending had me on the verge of losing it again. But I'm glad I watched it. I'm going to a friend's tonight to watch Invasion of the Bane. He hasn't seen any of the SJA yet.

Linquel's picture

This is hitting me a lot harder than Nicholas Courtney's passing. I was in love with Sarah Jane when I was 13-14 and watching Doctor Who in the early 1980s. When she came back on the new show looking just as stunning I still had a spot in my heart for her. I actually enjoyed watching SJA more than I liked watching Torchwood probably because it was Sarah Jane. I was getting misty eyed on my train home from work reading the news reports and I am again while typing this up. I don't know if I could handle watching the YouTube video Abersoch posted above. I am so, so sad right now.

BongMong's picture

I've just read it on the BBC pages. I'm really quite affected. The only other time I remember feeling affected by a death of someone I have never met was when Princess Diana died. How upsetting.

Daleks. Cybermen. Zygons. Krillitane. The Trickster. After all of that, who’d have thought? It wasn’t the aliens without that got her in the end. It was the cells within her own body. Classic irony.

She cried so many times for him. She was heartbroken when she was sure that he was never returning from Metebilis 3. There were tears in her eyes as she watched the grey-haired dandy, HER Doctor, turn into the madman with the big smile and the unruly curls. She cried when she thought he was dead on Mars. She cried when she thought he was dying on Karn. And although she tried to be brave, it’s a sure bet she cried after he left her in Aberdeen, to answer the call to Gallifrey. We did.

It was years before she saw him again, a skinny kid practically, in his trenchcoat and trainers. And that brought more tears. Tears for the tin dog. Tears for the proper goodbye that was so long in coming. And although they were unseen, there were bound to have been tears before his last regeneration. No words passed between them, but somehow she seemed to know. Of course she did. It was HIM. How could she not know?

And now…. More tears. But this time the tears are his. And ours. Cancer did what time and all the alien menaces in the universe could not. It took her away from him. From us. And somehow the universe is a lonelier place now.

She once said, “The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss – they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it’s a world, or a relationship, everything has its time and everything ends.”

The words are true, but omitted is one small detail – often the time is too short. Until we meet again Sarah Jane. Rest in peace Lis. We won't forget you. Promise.

(On a side note - I usually lurk here, but today's news compelled me to post.)

Louis Trapani's picture

I was just going to post the same quote from 'School Reunion' - I see you beat me to it.... 

"The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss – they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it’s a world, or a relationship, everything has its time and everything ends."

I've been seeing quotes from The Hand Of Fear everywhere, but when I saw the news the quote from School Reunion was the first that came to my mind.

Louis Trapani's picture


Isn't now about the time that production begins on the new series of Sarah Jane Adventures for an autumn transmission? Didn't the BBC commission two new series last time when they renewed it? I am guessing that nothing was shot yet before this tragic passing of Elisabeth Sladen. Even if production was to had begun already on the new series, I can only assume that she was too ill to do any of it and perhaps they were waiting it out.

We are all broken up over the news. I wonder how the kids in the UK are going to take it. And of course the rest of the cast must be completely devastated. I am guessing that the cast knew of her battle with cancer although respected her wishes to keep it under wraps. RTD knew as well as BBC Entertainment reporter, Lizo Mzimba


Whos The Doctor's picture

Take it for what it's worth but wikipeida says " At the time of her death, three storylines (comprising six half-hour episodes) of a fifth season had been completed"  If that is true I'm confused how she would be able to work so much right up till the end it would appear. 

Louis Trapani's picture

If that is true, that is already half the series (as they usually only have 10 or 12 episodes per series for SJA). If it's so, they would have to complete post production and bring us the half series as a lasting send-off for her. I figured there may had been one or two storylines completed at most... if even that. 

I don't know the details of her illness. Sadly I have seen cancer strike people down rather suddenly. Sometimes just months after being diagnosed. She may had been able to work even though she was getting more ill. I have a feeling that Elisabeth Sladen would work and give it her all to the very end.

Whos The Doctor's picture

I'm very curious what the BBC does with this.  I see 3 main options.  Not air the episodes.  Air them and leave it as is.  OR follow up what they have with a couple part finale giving her character the send off it deserves probably guest staring The Doctor.  I think RTD and crew could do this respectfully and tastefully and I hope they go this route.  Sarah Jane Smith deserves it. 

Louis Trapani's picture

 If they have six new episodes of SJA already in the can so to speak, I believe they will show them one way or another. Whether they will be just shown as is without any closure at the end, or not, is anybody's guess right now.

Although a story could be devised that could wrap things up, it will be sad to do it without Elisabeth Sladen present for it (yeah, they could and they could use past clips and/or cut scenes from the past and make it somehow work, but I don't know if they would).

I guess we will just have to wait and see. It's still so very unbelievable at this point.



ssaattbb's picture

This has not been a good year for Doctor Who fans.  I was absolutely stunned by this news.  Sarah Jane Smith was probably my first schoolboy "crush", as the Tom Baker episodes were just being broadcast when I was in junior high.  Now, nearly 30 years later, I must admit, I am still infatuated by Sarah Jane Smith.

I can think of no actress in a series who maintained such grace and professionalism, and fierce loyalty and protection of a character.  She made herself available for so many documentary features and reminiscences on DVD releases, appeared at conventions, and was always a an advocate for Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Smith.

By all accounts, she was as radiant inside as she was outside.

This loss will take a long time to get over... farewell Sarah Jane Smith.  I shall miss you most of all. Rest in peace.



Cyberscotsman's picture

This indeed shocking and saddening, and has put me in a downer ever since hearing about it last night as ift was breaking news on BBC 24.

2011 has been cruel enough to us with Nicholas Courtney's dying in February, not being wanting to sound morose we kind of expected that, because of his advancing age and we knew he had been ill. Liz Sladen however at only 63, which is no age in todays standards.

At time when we should be looking forward to the return of Doctor Who this Saturday, this is a double blow and will put a serious dampner on our spirits.

My thoughts are with her family and friends.

"You're the one who's foreign I'm Scottish" (Jamie McCrimmon "Evil of the Daleks")

Dalzo's picture

First Nicholas Courtney and now Elisabeth Sladen. Two of the biggest legends in the Doctor Who universe gone within a couple of months of each other... it is truly devastating. Sarah Jane Smith was easily in my personal top 5 of companions and this was down to the wonderful performance and dedication of Elizabeth Sladen. When she returned to Doctor Who in "School Reunion" and spoke her first line it was that beautiful voice which sent tingles down my spine... I shared The Doctors reaction to seeing her again, one of joy of seeing a friend too long absent. Because of The Sarah Jane Adventures and knowing we were seeing her for six weeks of the year, the magic of that scene had faded a little but now it will be more poignant then ever! Elizabeth Sladen gave life to the character of Sarah Jane Smith... she defended her character and protected her for over thirty years and was a fantastic voice for our show and even though Cancer has taken her from us Sarah Jane still lives on for there are still three stories which were filmed along with series four and one wonders whether this was done because Elizabeth Sladen and the production team foresaw that this was a possibilty or, at least, that she may not have the energy to film a fifth season in one go. When that final episode airs we will have lost Sarah Jane Smith and that will hit us again... very hard indeed!

I never met her in person yet I feel her loss profoundly, I can't imagine how it must be for those who knew her, let alone her family.


We will see you soon Sarah Jane Smith, We look forward to seeing you save world not once, but three more times.


Rest In Peace Elizabeth Sladen... Thankyou so much for what you have given us all... The World is a darker place without you and the Doctor Who universe trembles inconsolably at our loss!

New Doctor Who Podshock schwag

Podcast Feeds

Subscribe to
the Doctor Who podcast
Doctor Who: Podshock

iTunes users click here
Gallifreyan Embassy - Doctor Who: Podshock - Doctor Who: Podshock

Direct podcast feeds:

Doctor Who: Podshock

MP3 Format Podcast:
Doctor Who: Podshock MP3

  More feeds and info

  Supporting Subscribers

Syndicate (RSS Feed)

Syndicate content


How do you rate Doctor Who: Thin Ice? (5=Fantastic)
5 TARDIS Groans
4 TARDIS Groans
3 TARDIS Groans
2 TARDIS Groans
1 TARDIS Groan
0 TARDIS Groans
Total votes: 1

Amazon US Store

Amazon UK Store

Latest image

DW Podshock 341 Cover