Looking Back at Sarah Jane Smith

Every so often a new character bursts onto our television screens who revolutionises a role, makes it their own and is later referred to as iconic. Sarah Jane Smith is one of those characters.

Played by Elisabeth Sladen, who sadly died on Tuesday aged 63, Sarah Jane Smith has become a Whovian icon as she starred along side the late Jon Pertwee and the definitive Doctor, Tom Baker for three and a half series. Sarah Jane Smith was the model 1970s woman, with a career as an investigative journalist and a feminist attitude. Admittedly she was still very much a screamer, however as damsels-in-distress go she was the pluckiest.

Sarah Jane Smith was unlike any other companion ever before seen in the Tardis as was the chemistry between her and the Doctor. Her energetic, warm, quirky, head-strong, slightly child-like character quickly proved popular and to this day she remains the definitive classic Who companion as even at the age of 60 she was still protecting Earth from the threat of aliens armed with a sonic lipstick and the aid of futuristic disco-styled dog K9.

She made front page headlines with the announcement that she was leaving the long running sci-fi show such was her impact on the British Public. And with good reason as she battled, Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, androids (various), Zygons, giant robots, Mummies, the Lockness Monster, a strapped for cash costume designer’s take on Frankenstein, an overgrown intergalactic weed, and a variety of unseen forces to name but a few.

Needless to say Sarah Jane had her moments, so here are just a few of those defining parts of her Whovian history . The Arc in Space, set on a Thunderbird 5 style spaceship containing the last of humanity where she got

herself locked in an airless room which resulted in her falling into suspended animation. However, she did crawl through the ventilation shafts – no doubt the universe would have ended by now without their existence and easy accessibility – with electric cable to help the Doctor save the last the last of humanity.

Genesis of the Daleks, voted the No.1 classic episode saw Sarah, plucky as ever lead an escape attempt – despite a fear of heights – up a rocket to freedom, that’s determination. The gothic Brain of Morbuis saw Sarah Jane turn heroine as she became the love interest of a half brained and one handed deformity with a monobrow, not quite a romance made in heaven. This take on Hammer Horror saw Sarah Jane briefly blinded but that didn’t stop her.

The Seeds of Doom threw Sarah Jane into the peak of her popularity and showed us that she fears nothing and that all the screaming is simply selective, as when the Doctor’s not around she can hold her own. Trapped inside a country manor house by the aforementioned overgrown intergalactic weed, the line ‘there’s nothing ‘only’ about being a girl’ rang so true as Scorby (Marlene’s Boycie as the episode baddie’s heavyman) gets killed running away in terror leaving Sarah to help save the day and the Earth for that matter.

Not only was Elisabeth Sladen wondrous on screen she was also a wonder in her public life. Since the news of her death on Tuesday evening endless messages have been left by fans and friends alike. Russell T Davis described her as ‘funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful’. ‘She was so extraordinary’ said tenth Doctor David Tennant, ‘she was as vibrant and as wonderful as she had always been.’

No words can truly describe the inspirational personality that was Elisabeth Sladen, she was admired by fans of all generations and will always remain legendary to Whovians many of whom will remember her now infamous quote:

“I must be mad. I’m sick of being cold and wet and hypnotised left, right and centre. I’m sick of being shot at, savaged by bug eyed monsters, never knowing if I’m coming or going… or been… I want a bath, I want my hair washed, I just want to feel human again… and, boy, am I sick of that sonic screwdriver. I’m going to pack my goodies and I’m going home…”

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