I’ve just found out Elisabeth Sladen has died. How very very sad and upsetting. I think I can speak for many people and say I knew of her from little else but Doctor Who, but what a legacy to have left. She was more than just a Doctor Who assistant; she was one of the assistants that everyone loved. She was an assistant for possibly the most exciting periods of Doctor Who from the end of John Pertwee to the most amazing and highly watched, brilliantly written first half of Tom Baker’s reign.
When she was brought back for the Peter Tennant episode School Reunion it was like having an old friend revisit. I loved the scene where Rose was clearly jealous at the Doctor and Sarah Jane catching up and getting on like house on fire. I’m sure when Billie Piper was told that the most popular ever assistant in the entire history of the programme was going to make a one off appearance; there was an element of realism in her jealous performance creeping through. But who can blame her? I’d feel the same even if I didn’t want to. She was popular.
How popular was she? Well she’s the only character to get a stab at her own TV series. Twice. And the Sarah Jane Adventures were also wonderful. It’s how children’s TV should be. An adult the kids can look up to, scary, exciting, not patronising and most importantly something the whole family can watch together.
I feel like an old friend has passed away. I never forget her leaving the first time round in the final episode of The Hand of Fear. When I watched the same episode many years later the final scene where the Doctor leaves her nowhere near South Croydon was a bittersweet ending and embedded in my memory. A kind of laugh or you’ll cry moment.
This reminds me of the time Lux Interior passed away. I was under the impression both of them would outlive me. It seems not many people knew she had cancer. She just wanted to not bother us with these trifles and keep us happy.