Friday, 20 April 2012

Sarah Jane Smith: My Memories of Elisabeth Sladen by @Via_The_Void

My first viewing on television of the lovely Elisabeth Sladen would be in her cameo appearance in the Twentieth Anniversary Special The Five Doctors. Her first little scene with K9 is a favourite of mine.  I loved her surprise when she meets the Third Doctor again, and her banter on the commentary (of The Five Doctors Twenty Fifth Anniversary Edition) that Jon Pertwee pinched her line that "You became all teeth and curls!"

When I started buying the Doctor Who videos back in the mid-eighties, my first proper introduction to the character in a full Doctor Who story was the Jon Pertwee adventure Death To The Daleks, which ironically is being released on DVD very shortly!

Her banter with Jon Pertwee's Doctor was a delight to behold.  Sarah actually takes centre stage for much of this particular Dalek adventure, and when she escapes one of the Daleks goes a bit bananas as he blows himself up.  It's Sarah who devises a plan to get the Parrinium supplies aboard the Earth Marine Space Corps ship so that the Daleks can't get it. Good for Sarah.

This girl could act, she could stand her ground and she could give a good scream too.  All great abilities for a traditional Doctor Who companion.  However this character is not just a traditional companion, she starred alongside two of the best actors ever to play the role, the late Jon Pertwee and his successor the great Tom Baker.  I have no doubt that the pairing of Elisabeth Sladen with Tom Baker heralded a golden age of Doctor Who which for many can never be repeated.  The good news though are the stories are available to view for many years to come thanks to 2|Entertain and now BBC Worldwide.

However back to my memories of Lis.  The most painful memory was her tragic death last year, I had just bought Planet of the Spiders, Tesco didn't have it but Asda did when they checked their store room and I eagerly snapped it up intending to watch it that night later on.  Turning on my telly to read my favourite pages on Ceefax, I was unprepared for the revelation I was about to get on the entertainment news section.

I hadn't the heart to watch the Planet of the Spiders DVD, because I realised that in the final scene prior to the regeneration all of the main stars were no longer with us, and that hurt.  I couldn't watch it, and it took me a good three to four months before I did, and of course that final scene set me off!  I blubbed like David Tennant when he said goodbye to Rose!

I do have happier memories though.  She is a favourite companion of mine and I eagerly snap up her stories on DVD.  Even the K9 Boxset in order to see Sarah in the first spin off series K9 & Company, it's not half as bad as everyone makes out.

She was terrific in many of her stories but ones which stand out are The Hand of Fear, The Brain of Morbius, Pyramids of Mars and The Time Warrior.  I love her performance in Jon Pertwee's final outing when she gets possessed by the Queen Spider.  I have a soft spot for Planet of the Spiders and for Jon Pertwee's Doctor in general but when he says: "A tear Sarah Jane."  Elisabeth as Sarah Jane looks as if she's about to burst into tears at the thought that she's about to lose the Doctor.  She doesn't realise that although it's the end for the Third Doctor, she's about to meet the mad as a hatter Fourth Doctor!  And what a pairing together these two had, I love the dynamic these two actors had together.

Elisabeth Sladen was instrumental in Doctor Who's success during her tenure on the show, especially alongside Tom Baker as the Doctor. She will never be forgotten, and it is a testament to the success of her character that she returned to the role in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Who can forget her first appearance in The Time Warrior and later in the The Sontaran Experiment when Styre says that as the female of the species her thorax is of a different construction! That is a classic Doctor Who line. She met the Daleks creator in Genesis of the Daleks and then again years later in The Stolen Earth/Journey's End.  It was a wonderful moment for me when she recognised Davros's voice.

She was a brilliant actress and will be very sadly missed, but I wont despair now because through the power of DVD coupled with a blogger site called the Doctor Who Bar (shameless plug!) I can enjoy her terrific performances for many years to come.

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