Wednesday, 20 April 2011

"Lis"




1 February 1946 – 19 April 2011
  
   I sincerely doubt that there is a single soul amongst the Doctor Who fandom that did not like Elisabeth Sladen, even to varying degrees, nor is there one who is not at least disappointed that she is gone so suddenly, in the midst of a renewed career and popularity, no less. No wonder she was brought back so often in the revived series and made the headliner of her own show; she made rapport look simple and easy. It must be said, the cancer has so much to answer for

    
   I think it was that simple-yet-complex, intrinsic quality of hers that made her more or less the most popular of the series' "classic" companions; her character Sarah Jane Smith partnered the John Pertwee and Tom Baker incarnations of the Doctor and along with her brief appearances alongside the Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison versions, her enduring appeal - an appealing merger of sass, intuition, enthusiasm, chemistry and independence - ensured an iconic standard was made. Her first guest appearance alongside David Tennant's Doctor in 2006 could have been done by few other previous Who companions, really - when one has lived down an increasingly absurd selection of clear practical jokes played by the BBC's 1970s wardrobe department  (who wants to look back on their (at the time) final appearance and note how Andy Pandy-like their outfit is?) and remained a fandom star, then there's no doubting the welcome impact of a brief reprise

   Sladen was in the midst of capturing a new audience of once and future Whofen with as the headliner of spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, where her ability to sync with any and all co-stars remained appreciable; she was reunited with fellow 1970s Who staple Nicholas Courtney (whose aborted Mode Parade posthumous tribute this past February would have been entitled "Five Rounds Rapid", probably. Sorry, Brigadier) and most memorably performed alongside the current - and for my money, most enjoyable modern - Doctor, Matt Smith, and her predecessor as Pertwee's girl, Katy Manning, late last year. She also made her ongoing teamup with her much younger co-stars, Tommy Knight, Yasmin Page, Daniel Langer and Anjli Mohindra, seem like the most natural companions a middle aged weird happenings fighter should want to surround herself with

   To quote your sadly (and ironically) apposite final story's title, "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith." I should think it's going to be very hard to forget you now

2 comments:

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

I had to find this out at work last night and was alone in my grief in that none of my colleagues even knows who Lis Sladen is.

It was in 1981 that I wrote her a gushing, adoring fan letter ("Say hi to Harry for me") and she responded with a personally-signed photo. It was a big deal then, because to find her UK address was a daunting task which our local Public Broadcast Staion helped provide. I still have the photo and am truly saddened by news of dear Lis' death.

Barima said...

Very well put, CKDH. I thought that she was remarkable to have carried on whilst keeping such a secret, nevermind that she easily earnt that second flush of fame and the admiration of many. I enjoyed reading your story and am certain you'll treasure that photograph

By the way, that is a stalking success story if ever I read one. But a sweet one, nonetheless

Stay well,

BON

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