Elisabeth Sladen has sadly passed away. As a wee boy, I was fascinated by the TV series Doctor Who, so much so that it actually led me into a career in television. Every week I would read Doctor Who Monthly and the interviews with actors, actresses, directors, producers, writers, costume designers and more. What I thought was a magazine about a science fiction series in fact turned out to be my first manual in television production! The day I received my first BBC contract was one of the proudest days of my life - and the fact that Valerie, the production assistant in my first office had just worked on the series was as close to the magic of the series as I ever got, with my interest then veering into documentary rather than drama.
But what lured me to the series in the first place? It was three things - Tom Baker, the TARDIS, and Elisabeth Sladen. A Time Lord, a time machine that could take me to any time and place, and my first ever crush! As Sarah Jane Smith, Lis Sladen brought a real spark to what had previously been the role of the screaming assistant, with real attitude. She was a journalist - forget bow ties, journalists were cool! Now many years later I sit and watch the new version of the series with my own sons, but also had the pleasure to see Lis Sladen's acting career resurrected when they created a special series for her, The Sarah Jane Adventures, allowing my boys to equally find a hero in Sarah Jane Smith also.
I left the Beeb a few years back. Now as a family historian I travel to all sorts of times and places, and as a writer get to record my exploits through various avenues. Journalism and time travel, a wonderful mix - but I never got to travel with the Doctor!
To quote Jon Pertwee from his last ever story in Doctor Who in 1973 - "A tear Sarah Jane?" Many tears Lis Sladen - thank you for being as much a part of my childhood as you were of my children's.