M e m o r i e s o f E l i s a b e t h S l a d e n
a s S a r a h J a n e S m i t h
“Sarah Jane dead? No, impossible! Impossible.”
“She can’t be dead. But she is: she died yesterday morning. Cancer. I had no idea she was ill; she was so private, never wanted any fuss, and now, gone. A terrible blow to her friends and a shattering blow for all those fans of the programme whose lives were touched every Saturday evening by her lovely heroic character, Sarah-Jane Smith.”
“…when I replaced Jon Pertwee, it must have been an anxious time for Lis; it was a very anxious time for me. Following in the big footsteps of Jon was daunting. Tom Baker? Never heard of him. And so we started on the first story under Barry Letts as director. We did the location stuff first and I just obeyed orders; running about, with the Brigadier and that silly car… But back in the rehearsal room things were quieter and there was time to put in little details, time for Lis and me to get acquainted, time for me to try and make a little mark, so to speak. And Lis laughed at my silly antics; yes, she did, she laughed me to success. We both came from Liverpool, that small detail helped. We both loved old movies. And quite suddenly Lis and Ian Marter and Tom Baker were a trio. It is so consoling when one is sad and bereft to remember the good times, the laughter, the glamour; yes, the glamour: we three switched on the lights at Blackpool! A very great honour. We performed a little melodrama directed by (guess who?) yes, David Maloney! And now Lis was adored by Ian Marter and Tom Baker too.”
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My Sarah Jane: A Tribute To Elisabeth Sladen (Official, BBC)
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YOUR EDITOR, Simon Drax: Questions
Q: Favorite episode?
A: “Seeds of Doom,” easily. Other favorites include “Brain of Morbius” —when Sarah goes blind?! Jesus—”Pyramids of Mars,” the classic “trio” episodes (The Doctor + Sarah + Harry), “Ark in Space” and “Genesis,” others. All of them. There’s not a bad episode with Sarah Jane Smith as the companion.
Q: How insane were you for Sarah Jane Smith as portrayed by Elisabeth Sladen?
A: Certifiably insane. Difficult to describe the level of insanity without resorting to profanity. Pretty damn crazy. Sarah Jane Smith was simply the most wonderful girl in the universe. I was pretty nuts.
Q: Love letters? Poems?
A: Oh for god’s sake, no. I was 14, 15, 16; poetry and love letters and things like that would come later, for real people, alas. No, my crazy infatuation for Lis Sladen as SJS made itself manifest by naming the wicked big spaceship in the stupid space opera I was writing the Sarah Jane Smith, things like that. Slavish fanboy worship.
Q: Pictures on your wall?
A: I wish! But no. Early 80s, no money, no access to cool stuff, only Starlog and the like. Though I wish I could send this picture back in time! The boy I used to be would have been very happy to have this picture on his wall, so I’m posting it for him.
Q: Is that it?
A: No. I was saving the best for last. “I was so crazy for Sarah Jane Smith that…” I featured her in a very big “plateau” story I wrote when I was fifteen, an 80 page blockbuster called, mysteriously, Blue Illusions. These days we’d call it a crossover or a mash-up, certainly fanfic. But I didn’t have those terms back then: I probably thought of it as a team-up. Anyway, Blue Illusions teamed the staple Star Wars characters with The Doctor and Sarah as well as Adam Warlock from Marvel comics. A triple team up! Luke Skywalker and Sarah get it on.
Q: They do not!
A: They do. They “get it on.” They kiss.
A: I have no defense. No wonder some of my teachers hated me.
Q: Who cares about your teachers, you couldn’t spell the girl of your dreams name correctly?!
A: No defense. It’s very sad, yes.
Q: So what happens in your silly story?
A: Luke Skywalker gets captured by Imperial forces. Han and Leia set out to rescue him. Luke busts-out on his own, and he runs into The Doctor and Sarah Jane, who had accidently intercepted R2D2 in the TARDIS via a transmat beam/rebel force teleportation screw-up. Meanwhile, on their way to rescue Luke, Han and Leia and Chewie get captured themselves, but are saved by a just-wandering-by Adam Warlock. Luke and Sarah, believing that Han and Leia are in trouble, set out to rescue them, but tangle instead with evil stormtroopers (who lecherously wish to defile Sarah) and then Darth Vader himself. Very intense dramatic physical stuff; I was trying to imitate Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Anyway, Han and Leia and Warlock burst onto the scene, Adam Warlock BEATS THE CRAP OUT OF DARTH VADER, and our heroes high-tail it out of there. The story’s epilogue deals with Princess Leia sorting-out her emotions, as it’s obvious that Luke and Sarah have fallen deeply in love, and the princess is upset. That’s it. Epic. I was 15.
Q: It’s all so sad.
A: Maybe. But out of all of those characters running around, Sarah Jane Smith got the most face-time in my silly story. Now, that’s love.
Q: Thank you, Mister Drax. We wish you well.
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ONE LAST PICTURE
Elisabeth Sladen, 1948 — 2011
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Credits: Hexes cover photo © James Clevett. All other photos © BBC