Actress Elisabeth Sladen, who played faithful companion Sarah-Jane Smith on Doctor Who for 38 years, has died of complications arising from a battle with cancer she kept quiet for several years. She was 63.
Sladen made her Doctor Who debut as feisty reporter Sarah-Jane Smith in 1973, when Jon Pertwee was playing The Doctor, and throughout Tom Baker's tenure until 1981. Upon leaving the show she appeared in several Who specials and radio plays (including ill-fated TV pilot K-9 & Company), before a guest appearance in Doctor Who's 2006 episode "School Reunion" led to Sladen being given her own TV series the following year, entitled The Sarah-Jane Adventures.
Sladen's career was dominated and defined by her work on Doctor Who over almost four decades, as she appeared in only a few other TV shows and plays in her lifetime.
Russell T. Davies, Sarah-Jane Adventures' creator:
I absolutely loved Lis. She was funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful. The universe was lucky to have Sarah-Jane Smith, the world was lucky to have Lis.Steven Moffat, incumbent Doctor Who showrunner:
"Never meet your heroes" wise people say. They weren't thinking of Lis Sladen. Sarah-Jane Smith was everybody's hero when I was younger, and as brave and funny and brilliant as people only ever are in stories. But many years later, when I met the real Sarah-Jane -- Lis Sladen herself -- she was exactly as any child ever have wanted her to be. Kind and gentle and clever; and a ferociously talented actress, of course, but in that perfectly English unassuming way. There are a blessed few who can carry a whole television show on their talent and charisma -- but I can't think of one other who's done it quite so politely.Elisabeth Sladen is survived by her husband Brian Miller and daughter Sadie Miller.
DoctorWhoNews.net have a comprehensive write-up of Elisabeth Sladen's passing.