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5 great Sarah Jane moments on ‘Doctor Who’ in honor of Elisabeth Sladen’s birthday

Fans honor Elisabeth Sladen on what would have been her 70th birthday.


Lisa Granshaw


Posted on Feb 1, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 7:02 am CDT

The actor who played one of the most beloved companions to ever to adventure on Doctor Who would have turned 70 today. 

Elisabeth Sladen’s legacy and contribution to the science fiction series has continued to live on even after her death five years ago, and it’s being remembered on her birthday.

Sladen played the Doctor’s companion Sarah Jane Smith regularly from 1973 to 1976 and occasionally returned to reprise the role, eventually returning to the part in the new version of the series years later. She also starred in the two Doctor Who spin offs, K-9 and Company and the more successful The Sarah Jane Adventures. Her character was a journalist who could more than keep up with the Doctor. She often tops lists of the Doctor’s best companions.

It’s no surprise then that on Sladen’s birthday the show and its fans are remembering the actor and her unforgettable role. Fans are sharing their thoughts and memories of her along with tributes on social media.

Sladen’s birthday is also the perfect time to rewatch some of her greatest moments. While streaming Doctor Who online has become a bit more difficult now that it is not on Netflix, that doesn’t mean you still can’t watch some of your Sarah Jane’s best scenes! Here are five of the character’s must-watch moments from the series.

1) First Appearance

Sarah Jane Smith made her debut in the first part of the “The Time Warrior” when she ends up in the Middle Ages after stowing away on the TARDIS. The above moment from the multipart story in particular does a good job of showing how she’s going to be an inquisitive companion who wants to get to the bottom of things and is not afraid to question everything—including the Doctor. It’s the start to her travels with the Third and Fourth Doctors and her becoming more of an equal and best friend to the Time Lord.

2) “Genesis of the Daleks” Debate

In one of the best episodes of the Fourth Doctor’s run, this scene is one of Sarah Jane’s most memorable. She and the Doctor discuss his dilemma of whether or not to destroy the Daleks before they can cause so much horror in the future. She tries to convince the Doctor that he should do it as he wonders if he has the right.

3) Leaving the Fourth Doctor 

The Doctor and Sarah Jane have to say goodbye at the end of “The Hand of Fear.” Sarah can’t go with him to Gallifrey, so we get a rather emotional parting between the two friends. Fittingly it also turns out the Doctor dropped her off at the wrong place, making it impossible not to smile even though it’s sad to see the end of their travels together.

4)  Meeting the Tenth Doctor

All of “School Reunion” is a must-watch as Sarah Jane makes her triumphant return to the show with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. The moment when she meets the Doctor (finally realizing it’s him) is the stand-out from the episode. The two run into each other as they both investigate strange occurrences at the school—just like old times! 

5) Davros recognizing Sarah Jane

In “Journey’s End” from series 4, Sarah Jane Smith has teamed up with the Doctor’s other previous companions as the Dalek’s threaten Earth and their creator Davros plans to destroy the universe. It’s great to see The Sarah Jane Adventures cross over with the new Doctor Who series, and for Sarah Jane to be interacting with the other former companions, especially in the two-parter’s first episode “The Stolen Earth.” However the best moment is when Davros recognizes Sarah Jane from their meeting in the classic series episode “Genesis of the Daleks.” It’s a fun callback to the history of the two characters, and it’s great to see Sarah Jane stand up to the old enemy.

Photo via Doctor Who/Facebook

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2016, 7:12 pm CST