The BBC has announced that actor Elisabeth Sladen, who played companion Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who alongside the Third and Fourth Doctors (and appeared again with the Tenth Doctor), has passed away.
Just as many people claim to have their own Doctor, the one who pops into mind when the Doctor is mentioned, Elisabeth Sladen’s portrayal of journalist Sarah Jane Smith is surely the most iconic of all the companions.
Her riveting performance in the Tenth Doctor episode “School Reunion,” early in David Tennant’s run, solidified my appreciation of the new series. Ever since Fourth Doctor Tom Baker dropped her off in what he thought, wrongly, was her native Croydon, Sarah Jane Smith had been waiting for the Doctor to return. He never did, until a chance meeting decades later brought them together again. The pain and wonder Elisabeth Sladen brought to her portayal of Sarah Jane Smith in “School Reunion” encapsulates the dilemma of all the Doctor’s companions: a few moments of wonder balanced against a lifetime that seems mundane in comparison.