Tom Baker pays a heartfelt tribute to Doctor Who co-star Elisabeth Sladen

Tom Baker has expressed his devastation at Elisabeth Sladen’s untimely death.

It was reported last night that the 63 year old actress had passed away after a battle with cancer. She was best known as Doctor Who character Sarah Jane Smith and played opposite Baker – the fourth incarnation of the timelord – in 1974.

Writing on his official website, the 77 year old actor lamented:

“Sarah Jane dead? No, impossible! Impossible. Only last week I agreed to do six new audio adventures with her for Big Finish Productions,” he wrote. “She can’t be dead. But she is, she died yesterday morning. Cancer. I had no idea she was ill; she was so private, never wanted any fuss, and now, gone.

“A terrible blow to her friends and a shattering blow for all those fans of the programme whose lives were touched every Saturday evening by her lovely heroic character, Sarah Jane Smith.”

Elisabeth played opposite Tom’s predecessor Jon Pertwee before he joined the show and speaking about working alongside her, he said:

“Lis Sladen was very important to me, you know. When I joined the little world of Doctor Who Lis was already a star.

“She had an enormous success with John Pertwee. She was good pals with The Brigadier, our beloved Nicholas Courtney; she knew all the regular directors. She was adored by Barry Letts, the producer who cast her in the role. She always said she was Barry’s girl. It was for that reason she decided to leave the show. But it was not necessary at all. The fans adored her, Philip Hinchcliffe our new and glamorous producer adored her, so did David Maloney, her favourite director.”

Tom loved her too and on why they made such a good match on and off the screen, he continued:

“We both came from Liverpool, that small detail helped. We both loved old movies. And quite suddenly Lis and Ian Marter and Tom Baker were a trio. It is so consoling when one is sad and bereft to remember the good times, the laughter, the glamour; yes, the glamour: we three switched on the lights at Blackpool! A very great honour. We performed a little melodrama directed by (guess who?) yes, David Maloney! And now Lis was adored by Ian Marter and Tom Baker too.”

“And it never ceased. And in the evenings, Lis would simply disappear back to wherever we were staying and the rest of us would often be raucous! And too soon she decided to leave; no fuss at all, all was calm. And Philip Hinchcliffe gave her lovely farewell party at the Hilton. Those sweet memories of happy days with Lis Sladen, the lovely, witty, kind and so talented Lis Sladen.”

He concluded: “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.”