I had the fortune of meeting this lady twice and lady is the only word that can adequately express the manner in which she treated not only myself, but others that shared the experience. The first time was at a time when the classic series of DOCTOR WHO was over and the new series that now rules the airwaves wasn't even a twinkle in Russell T Davies' eye. An artist who had painted an image of her from the classic show's story THE SEEDS OF DOOM (now out on DVD) was trying to shift them at a genre show and she had turned up without billing or pre-notification to help him out. She was approachable and chatted for simply ages. Had I not already been smitten by her from an early age then I certainly would have been after this encounter.
School Reunion and the queues to her table were miles long. Even so, she took time with each person, especially her new younger fans and treated everyone as thought they were special and not just a means to make some extra cash.
When DOCTOR WHO first returned to our screens, I had two thoughts in my head. They were 'make it good' and 'bring back Sarah Jane'. Sarah Jane Smith was the first female character that impacted on my younger self and her impact was so strong that my daughter's first names are Sarah and Jane (my wife refusing to double barrell it because her surname is already double barrelled). Well it came back and it was better than good and they brought back Sarah Jane Smith.
Not only did they bring her back, but they gave her a spin off series that was way better than the lacklustre TORCHWOOD.
THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES gave Elisabeth another chance to shine as an actress and she took the chance with both hands, showing that she was every bit as capable of the modern style of more subtle performance as the older style from the classic series of DOCTOR WHO. There can be no-one who wouldn't want a neighbour like Sarah Jane Smith.
Sarah Jane Smith may be the only role that Elisabeth Sladen will be remembered for by her fans, but it is a character that featured in some of the very best episodes that the show ever produced (GENESIS OF THE DALEKS anyone) and she is, above all, the companion who will be remembered. Amy who?
Elisabeth Sladen is no longer with us, but the pleasure that she brought will remain with us for as long as her shows continue to captivate new audiences. I will always remember her, though, as the charming, warm and thoroughly lovely woman that I was lucky enough to meet twice.