Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith…

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I just learned something that will sadden the heart of any Doctor Who fan. Elizabeth Sladen, who played longtime companion of the Doctor Sarah Jane Smith, has died of cancer:

Doctor Who star Elisabeth Sladen, who was also in spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures, has died aged 63.

Sladen appeared as Doctor Who assistant Sarah Jane Smith in the BBC television sci-fi series between 1973 and 1976, opposite Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

The Liverpool-born actress appeared in four series from 2007 of The Sarah Jane Adventures on children’s channel CBBC.

Sladen had been battling cancer for some time and leaves actor husband Brian Miller and daughter Sadie.

Sarah Jane Smith was always my favorite Who companion. (In fact, back in the 1980s I had a bit of a crush on her.) I didn’t watch her latest show on a regular basis, as it was aimed a bit too directly at children for me–a little too shiny and bouncy, if you know what I mean–although some of the stories I did see were quite good. I did see enough of it that I was surprised at this news. I never had a clue that she was so ill, although I did think she looked a bit haggard a couple of times that I saw her on TV recently. I also can’t help but find it morbidly ironic that the last story of The Sarah Jane Adventures that aired last fall was entitled Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith. Unfortunately, unlike the case in the last episode of her TV show aired thus far, this time Sarah Jane won’t be coming back.

She will be missed.

ADDENDUM: A sadly effective tribute to Elisabeth Sladen.