I went to bed early last night, feeling as if I was coming down with a cold. I woke up at four in the morning and started reading the tweets about Elisabeth Sladen, who died yesterday. I loved Sarah Jane when I was small and watching from behind the sofa, and I loved her even more when she came back in The Sarah Jane adventures. I won't say that watching a kids programme was a guilty pleasure, because dammit, it wasn't. The show was funny, scary, thought provoking and dealt with weighty themes in a way that didn't pander to or patronize any viewer of any age.
This is a repost of a review I wrote back in 2006, which I think says it all:
She was the one.
I was of that particular demographic of Doctor Who viewers, who were introduced to the character sometime during Jon Pertwee's tenure. The chronology of that time is a little hazy in my mind and I can only remember fragments and impressions of the various stories - giant maggots and giant spiders, daemons and daleks. When Jo, the slightly dippy hippy companion, left to be taken up the Amazon some long haired biologist I felt aggrieved on the Doctor's behalf as he drove off into the night in Bessie.
Sooner or later, and I can't really recall the exact date or story, Sarah Jane Smith arrived in the Tardis and proved to be a loyal and resourceful assistant. Smart, brave and sassy, in a proto-feminist stylee, she was a stalwart and saw us through the transformation of the Doctor from silver-haired dandy to floppy hatted bohemian. She faced Daleks and Cybermen, Anti-Matter monsters and Mummies, but when the Doctor was summoned back to Gallifrey she was left behind, with only a robot dog for company.
My eleven year old self recognised the injustice of it, but last night’s episode of Doctor Who made up for it. Demonic teachers, school dinners, K9, explosions, the temptation of ultimate power, and of course, a second chance and an opportunity to put things right by saying goodbye properly.
Telly really doesn’t get much better than this.