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Lis with David Tennant
When I was at Art College, we often spoke of the intimidation of white paper. It is no different for writers, be it stories, poems, songs or blogs. You have an idea and the idea may well be brilliant, but it’s making that first mark. How do you start the journey of your idea or thought….And today is no exception. 

My thought is Elisabeth Sladen or Lis to her friends; better known to many of us as Sarah Jane Smith, companion to two Doctors, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

The first I saw of the terrible news was a posting by Dana, via BarrowmanDay. Megan, my niece and fellow JB fan, was on Twitter. I looked with complete and utter disbelief. I felt my eyes tearing up and I jumped up and went to the main computer to do a frantic search. Surely what I’d just seen was wrong. It had to be. Even those on Twitter who were spreading this awful news were unsure and there was nothing in Google news. Then I found it…my heart sank like the heaviest of stones…Doctor Who Star Elisabeth Sladen dies age 63! Even now typing those awful words brings tears to my eyes as it seems so wrong, so surreal. It was so sudden and unexpected, how could it be true?!

When we write our blogs in BarrowmanDay our subject matter always has one common denominator, John Barrowman and for me, and many of our followers and JB fans who are of the same age sort of age the names Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen, link us all because they were our first Doctors and Sarah was our first companion.

I am pretty sure I will have seen Sarah in her first episode of Doctor Who, way back in 1973, with Jon; though like JB, often remembering the titles can be hard. But my excuse, and probably Johns, is I was only 6 and so didn’t really take much notice of such things, I was too busy enjoying their adventures, seeing these strange worlds and scary monsters and of course, hiding behind a cushion. But as an adult with the internet at my finger tips I now know the episode was The Time Warrior.

I do think I may have seen some episodes before with Jon and his then companion Jo Grant, but she left no mark on me. I have no memories of seeing her in any episode, only photographs in magazines and books. But Sarah Jane was different, when I think of Sarah Jane I think of her feistiness and independence. Unlike some of Sarah Jane’s predecessors, she was rarely frightened off by strange creature, no matter how scary they were. She was also both intelligent and beautiful, two things that in the 70s didn’t always go hand-in-hand. She was a journalist who wanted to know more. When most girls were thinking about marriage and children Sarah Jane was thinking about the next adventure on a new world and its strange creatures she would meet, with her amazing and mysterious friend, the Doctor.

Then it happened in the episode The Hand of Fear (76) Sarah Jane seemingly left us after the Doctor left her in Aberdeen. Sarah did return to our screens in the short lived series K-9 and Company, but it was her momentary return to the Doctors (Tennant) side in School Reunion (2006) that would ignite the idea for the successful  and excellent children’s series The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007 - ). And Lis continued to make special guest appearances, as Sarah Jane, in Doctor Who episodes and specials. And now I feel like a journalist writing about another celebrity who has left us, writing about their long and varied career and it feels very…So as I get near to the end I want to get back on track of how this blog started...something more personal…

For me, like many children, both the Doctor and Sarah Jane had become friends who’d invited us to join them every Saturday on their fabulous adventures in the TARDIS and for the girls and some boys Sarah Jane was even more a friend because she was like us. She was pretty much an ordinary girl on an extraordinary journey. Like I said earlier she was both beautiful and intelligent, someone for girls to aspire to. Life and expectations for girls in the 70s were very different to now. Nobody expected you to go to university and make something of yourself. Career girls were very much a rare breed and here we had Sarah Jane, a career girl AND adventurer to boot! She was amazing and so was Lis for putting her all into this iconic role! Sarah had this delightful wide eyed look when ever confronted by something different and wondrous, almost doe like. She was sweet without being too much like the girl next door; another frequent image seen in women of the time. I adored her, she was incredible…

Then...many years later, our favourite Sci-Fi show returned and a short time later so did Sarah Jane in School Reunion with David Tennant (another SJ Fan) and Billie Piper. I was ecstatic…It was so wonderful to see her beautiful beaming face again on our television. For many of us Sarah Jane was as iconic as the TARDIS or Tom Bakers scarf. To have her back on our screens was the cherry on the cake! And then, as I mentioned before The Sarah Jane Adventures…All so very wonderful!

And now…We’re here… the 19th of April 2011…almost midnight BST…

Myself and Dana couldn’t do our usual BarrowmanDay, how could we? So for the day, it became “SarahJaneDay”! Dedicated to Lis; we posted pictures and videos of the lovely Lis and her fabulous character Sarah Jane and just shared memories.

It was strange when some followers were talking about the ‘what now?’  What will happen to The Sarah Jane Adventures? Will they find a new lead? It was a question I found hard to answer and in truth one I didn’t wish to answer. The thought of the series continuing with out our Sarah Jane is just unthinkable. Personally I would rather they changed its name than let it continue with another actor trying to slot into the space that Lis/Sarah Jane so beautifully occupied. It would seem so very wrong…So now I have reached the end of my blog…

Ending this blog is as difficult as it was to start it…We never want things to end or people to leave us, but sadly they do…ultimately…

So I’d like to think that Sarah Jane has not left us, but has merely left our complicated Earth and joined her Doctor in his TARDIS; and they’re travelling together, looking for a wonderful new adventure…

We will miss you Sara Jane…

I send all her family and friends the deepest of sympathy as yours is the greatest loss.

Mickie x

Hi – I’m Pat & I’m Mickie’s Mum & she has let me add to her blog – I was really knocked out by the loss of Lis, so suddenly, with no warning, no time to prepare our minds to the possibility of loss, no time to wish her well or, if we wished, pray for her recovery, it makes it so much harder to accept her loss. Lis always seemed so young – she carried her years well, looked barely 50 not over 60 – full of life, & love of life – bright, intelligent & inspiring, she felt like the sister I would have loved to have! Sarah Jane was a brilliant character, perfectly played – always inspiring & informing – yes, you could overcome fears, - it’s right to fight for what is right & just – and it is wrong to pretend to be a silly helpless girl, to hide your intelligence, to pretend ignorance, to let others fight your battles – and yes, you can be clever, gorgeous, fashionable – wear make-up and be a GIRL and above all, be a kind, generous person and use your intelligence intelligently – and be a fighter in a just cause. Today we are lacking real role models for young people and The Sarah Jane Adventures were a perfect vehicle for showing them what was possible, that they all could achieve things if they just used their minds to acquire knowledge and use it – they didn’t have to fight aliens, only those who alienate them – and that friends are the most valuable acquisition. My challenge to those who created Sarah Jane now is to find a way to continue the good work – not another actress to play Sarah Jane but a new character to step into her shoes and continue the work – it is most necessary, the Doctor would want it, he cannot be here all the time & our youngsters need inspiring!

So, all my love to Lis’s family & her friends everywhere – and I too will miss them both.


 


Comments

jinnandtonic
04/22/2011 17:38

Really lovely. Sad but so well written, it was like commiserating with a friend. Makes remembering nicer. Also really liked your mom's addition at the end, she is so right about us needing more role models like Sarah Jane.

Reply
Mickie
04/22/2011 17:50

@jinnandtonic Thank you for your lovely comment and yes she was very write about Role models...the so called ones that are around are hardly good examples...but that's another story!

I'm glad you liked it and yes very very sad!

Mickie x

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