Elisabeth Sladen passes away, aged 63

April 19th, 2011

It is with great sadness that we bring you the news that Elisabeth Sladen has passed away at the age of 63.

Elisabeth made her first appearance as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who in 1973, and has been a prominent figure in the series since. Her starring role in her own spin off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, means that she will be remembered by a whole new generation of fans as well as those who followed her story throughout the Classic Series. She passed away this morning following a battle with cancer.

Within seconds of its announcement, the terrible news made headlines across the world. Here in the UK, it has been covered by the Guardian, the Mirror, The Sun, Digital Spy, Newsround and BBC News. Russell T Davies paid tribute to her on the news, noting: “All of us who work on Doctor Who and Sarah Jane are reeling at the moment.”

“I’m deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Lis’ untimely death,” said Damian Kavanagh, Controller of CBBC, in a statement. “Lis brought joy, excitement and a sense of wonder to her many fans in her role as Sarah Jane Smith. She was adored by our young audience and I know all of them will miss her as much as I will.”

Tributes have also been paid on Twitter. Mark Gatiss has labelled the late actress as “the best”, while Phil Ford has described her as a “fabulous person” who will be “badly missed by so, so many”. Stephen Fry, meanwhile, added: “Sarah Jane was part of my childhood”, and Murray Gold has praised her for “never seeming to age, tire or cloud”.

The creator of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Russell T Davies, added: “I absolutely loved Lis. She was funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful. The universe was lucky to have Sarah Jane Smith; the world was lucky to have Lis.”

An array of series cast members have also responded publicly to the sad news. Nicola Bryant has told her followers that “it’s too much to take in”, while John Barrowman has said he is “proud to have worked with such an icon of the sci-fi world”, adding: “Your Dr Who family are very sad and will miss you and your beautiful smile”. Finn Jones has also described working with Elisabeth as “a pleasure and honor”, and Nicholas Pegg reaffirmed: “Desperately sad news about the beautiful, talented, incomparable Lis”.

“Sarah Jane was everybody’s hero when I was younger, and as brave and funny and brilliant as people only ever are in stories,” Steven Moffat has said. “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.”

Elsewhere, Clayton Hickman has commented: “Will miss Lis Sladen more than I can say”, and Tom Spilsbury has echoed: “I feel utterly drained. Farewell, Lis – I’m so sorry I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. We’ll do you proud in DWM, I promise”.

Matt Smith said: “What struck me about Lis was her grace. She welcomed me and delighted me with her tales and adventures on Doctor Who. Her grace and kindness will stay with me because she had such qualities in abundance and shared them freely. I will miss her, as will the world of Doctor Who and all the Doctors that had the good pleasure to work with Lis Sladen and travel the universe with Sarah Jane.”

Roger Carey, who represented Lis for many years, said: “She was not just a client, but a dear friend. She was so positive about life and her natural energy was intoxicating.”

“We are all so shocked and so very sad at the news of the death of Lis Sladen,” said Nick Briggs. “Only yesterday I was filming a DVD extra in which I was talking with such heartfelt passion about how she was so ‘luminous’ on screen and how brilliant she was as Sarah Jane Smith. And that is the truth. For so many of us, she was the ultimate Doctor Who companion. On paper, in the original Doctor Who TV series, there was, arguably, nothing startling or particularly compelling about the character; it was Lis who made her totally fascinating to watch. Lis created Sarah Jane.”

All of our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends at this difficult time.

72 comments on this article
  1. Paul
    April 19th, 2011 at 9.43pm | #1

    Rip a legend gone too soon

  2. Countdrac
    April 19th, 2011 at 9.45pm | #2

    Just heard, via BBC News, of Elizabeth’s passing. She was one of my favourite Dr. Who companions. My heartfelt sympathies and condolences go to her family, friends and to all who worked along-side her. Elizabeth’s memory will live on for ever in her best known character as Sarah Jane Smith.
    Rest In Peace.

    Russell T Davies
    If K9 is in need of a caring home, I’m available to adopt him.

  3. DannyMcIver
    April 19th, 2011 at 9.52pm | #3

    Really Sad ,Liz Sladen is dead. Too young,too early. A wonderful woman ,i will miss her. Before she died she filmed the first 6 episodes of SJA(series 5), these should be finshed and then shown on bbc 1 in her honour. This weeks episode should also be dedicated to one of britains most loved women. Rest In Peace ……

  4. Ifrah
    April 19th, 2011 at 9.55pm | #4

    R.I.P Elizabeth Sladen. I am deeply saddened by this news she was a hero to all and I know she was. I hope her friends and family the best and reassure all fans she is safe in heaven.

  5. DannyMcIver
    April 19th, 2011 at 9.56pm | #5

    Did Anyone just realise what the last episode of SJA was called?
    -Goodbye Sarah Jane Smith

  6. Lee
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.05pm | #6

    Absolutely devastating. RIP Elisabeth Sladen.

  7. The 13th Doctor
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.08pm | #7

    Sorry if I sounded disrespectful in my last comment, I just cannot believe what I just read, this is the last thing I thought would happen, Urgh, so so sad

    Elisabeth Sladen RIP

  8. David
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.12pm | #8

    This is such terrible news, I still can’t believe it. I’ve watched Elisabeth on TV since 1976 and she has always been an amazingly positive shining light.

    The world is a much sadder place tonight. RIP Elisabeth.

  9. Last_of_the_timelords
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.16pm | #9

    so sad :( RIP to a doctor who legend, always be remembered

  10. Rosey
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.20pm | #10

    This is so so sad ES is a totally Doccy Who legend and will be missed by all
    I just heard on the news and been crying since :( I can’t believe she is gone
    My love and prays go to her family and colleuges.
    Rose x x x

  11. Tom
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.27pm | #11

    I am so upset to hear about this news. My thoughts are with Elisabeth’s family and friends at this sad time. May she live in our hearts forever x

  12. Ruby
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.29pm | #12

    pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love, whether its a world or a relationship, everything has its time and everything ends x

  13. tooter356
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.31pm | #13

    what will happen to the show :(

  14. mpirks
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.34pm | #14

    I am absolutely saddned by this news. It must be so heartbreaking for her whole family and the many friends and fans that she had. I never followed classic Who but I realised just how important her role was as a classic companion to new who fans.

    The SJA was amazing in its own right and I can’t help but feel extremly sad for the younger fans who watched her adventures and how they will take it. I suppose this series of SJA is going to be very bitter sweet.

    goodnight god bless Liz. x

  15. tyler
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.34pm | #15

    I have had to read this several times, the shock to see this posted is unbelievable!!! Never have i ever actually felt sadened by someones death before. I know i never knew her, but always admired her work in the show. Elisabeth you will be trueley missed, god bless you and your family, as you can rest now and no longer suffer.

    Truley one in a million

  16. dani
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.41pm | #16

    I am saddened by this.
    The MCRmy and Whovians on twitter are trying to trend #SINGItForSarahJane please help us!!!

  17. JC
    April 19th, 2011 at 10.57pm | #17

    I’ve tweeted that Dani

  18. Lewis
    April 19th, 2011 at 11.05pm | #18

    it’s true, but i guess it gave her bad luck :/

  19. Bad Wolf
    April 19th, 2011 at 11.13pm | #19

    What a shock ! I didn’t even know she was ill ! Life is so unfair sometimes ! Millions of Doctor Who fans all around the world must be heartbroken now, we’ll miss you Ms. Sladen, and you won’t be forgotten.

  20. dani
    April 19th, 2011 at 11.20pm | #20

    Thanks!!! I’ve used up my tweet allowence on it now…

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