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article imageBBC brings The Sarah Jane Adventures to a close

By Mathew Wace Peck     Oct 18, 2011 in Entertainment
After nearly four decades, Elisabeth Sladen's adventures as Sarah Jane Smith came to a fitting close this evening on CBBC.
Sladen died in April this year, at the age of 65, following a battle with cancer. Only her close family were aware that she was ill; her death coming as a shock to the actor’s colleagues and fans alike.
The final episodes of The Sarah Jane AdventuresThe Man Who Never Was – were written by Gareth Roberts, who has worked on Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures since Doctor Who returned to television in 2005. His most recent Doctor Who story was this year’s Closing Time, which starred Matt Smith, as the Eleventh Doctor, and James Corden (Gavin & Stacey) as his companion, Craig Owens.
Roberts is currently working on the novelisation of Shada, which is based on a 1979 unfinished Doctor Who TV script by the late Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). After the episode aire, Robers tweeted, appropriately, “Goodbye, my Sarah Jane.”
“My Sarah Jane!”
Following the news of her death, thousands of tributes from around the world flooded into the BBC, with in excess of 30,000 being posted to the CBBC website by children who have watched The Sarah Jane Adventures since it began in 2007.
Days after her untimely death, the BBC broadcast three tributes to her. The first two were shown either side of the opening episode of the 2011 series of Doctor Who: a short tribute appeared on BBC 1 immediately before the opening credits of The Impossible Planet; then, after the episode, a tribute programme – My Sarah Jane: A Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen – was broadcast on CBBC, the home to Sladen’s Doctor Who spin-off series. “My Sarah Jane!” is a line uttered by the Tenth Doctor in the 2006 Doctor Who story School Reunion, which reintroduced the character to the TV series after 30 years. The third tribute was a rare rescreening of Sladen’s original Doctor Who swansong in the 1976 four-part serial The Hand of Fear.
According to the BBC, My Sarah Jane was: “both a tribute and a celebration of Elisabeth Sladen. It brings together stories from friends and colleagues and draws on a rich archive of material to remind us of Sarah Jane’s journey, from companion to the Third Doctor to the central character in CBBC’s award-winning The Sarah Jane Adventures.”
The Hand of Fear
Sladen first appeared in Doctor Who in 1973, in The Time Warrior, alongside the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee. She remained on the show when Tom baker took on the role of the Fourth Doctor in 1974, leaving in 1976, in The Hand of Fear.
Earlier this year, Baker said of his friend and co-star: “[She] was very important to me [. . .] Those sweet memories of happy days with Lis Sladen, the lovely, witty, kind and so talented Lis Sladen. I am consoled by the memories. I was there, I knew her, she was good to me and I shall always be grateful, and I shall miss her.”
Sladen’s appearance in School Reunion, and her continuing popularity with viewers, led directly to The Sarah Jane Adventures – which was created by Russell T Davies (Torchwood) specifically for her – and its spin-off, Sarah Jane’s Alien Files.
Before her death, four series of the CBBC spin-off show had been broadcast. A fifth was in production, with six of the proposed 12 episodes already completed. It also starred Tommy Knight as Luke Smith, Daniel Anthony as Clyde Langer, Anjli Mohindra as Rani Chandra, Sinead Michael as Sky Smith, Alexandra Armstrong as Mr Smith and John Leeson as K9.
The BBC confirmed in the summer that the show would not continue without its star. However, Sarah Jane’s Alien Files and all five series of The Sarah Jane Adventures are currently being repeated on CBBC and are also available on BBC iPlayer.
More about Gareth roberts, Sarah jane adventures, Doctor Who, Sarah jane smith, Elisabeth sladen
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