Wednesday, April 20, 2011

R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen: 1948-2011

We don't usually cover television here at Spellbound (although that might change in the future), but there was no way that I could keep myself remarking on the tragic passing of Elisabeth Sladen -- known to millions of fans as Sarah Jane Smith, the definitive companion on Doctor Who.

Those of us interested in film and television, particularly those whose interests extend beyond the most contemporary works, are constantly confronted with the deaths of people we don't know but whose works have enriched our lives, entertained us, been a source of comfort or excitement.  Hell, just in the brief time Allex and I have been running this blog we've now run three eulogies.  All of this deaths fill us with sadness and a sense of loss for all the future work they might have given us.

Even still, it is rare that a headline fills me with as much shock, brings such immediate tears, as did the news of Ms. Sladen's passing.  As much as anyone ever associated with the show, Lis epitomized what Craig Ferguson described as Doctor Who's message: "the triumph of romance and the intellect over brute force and cynicism."  For nearly forty years she was associated with a role that inspired countless fans the world over, and she played it with a grace and joy that frankly made the world a better place.

Those that worked with her can put it better than I ever could:

"Never meet your heroes' wise people say. They weren't thinking of Lis Sladen. Sarah Jane Smith was everybody's hero when I was younger, and as brave and funny and brilliant as people only ever are in stories. But many years later, when I met the real Sarah-Jane – Lis Sladen herself – she was exactly as any child ever have wanted her to be. Kind and gentle and clever; and a ferociously talented actress, of course, but in that perfectly English unassuming way." - Steven Moffat

"I just can't believe that Lis is gone. She seemed invincible. The same woman who enchanted my childhood, enchanted my time on Doctor Who and enchanted generations who have watched her and fallen in love with her – just like I did. I feel very honoured to have shared a TARDIS with Sarah Jane Smith, and I feel very lucky to have shared some time with Lis Sladen. She was extraordinary." - David Tennant

Our hearts go out to Ms. Sladen's family on this sad, sad day.

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