I wanted my next blog post to be a cheerful one, really, I did. I'd already started one about my afternoon at the Sydney Opera House with Sir Pterry Pratchett. It was going to be all cheerful and uplifting. Honest.
This morning I logged on to my favourite Doctor Who forum (oh come on, we all know I'm a geek) and read the terrible and shocking news that Elisabeth Sladen, the actress who had played Sarah Jane Smith, had passed away at the age of 63. Members of the forum were in shock. I was one of them. I immediately sent a text to my cousin. I updated my Facebook status. I posted on the forum. I cried. Twice.
Why is it that we feel this way about people that we've never met? We develop such intense and real attachments to characters - and that's what they are, not people, per se - that we genuinely mourn their passing when we've never met the people themselves. For me, with Elisabeth and Nicholas Courtney, I think it's because they are intrinsically linked with my childhood which was a happy time for me, all things considered. Sarah Jane Smith was an excellent role model for little girls in the 70s. She might have screamed a lot (she certainly screamed and fell over too much in Brain of Morbius) but even though she was afraid she stood her ground and did what needed to be done. She took on aliens. She faced off with Davros. She did battle alongside Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith. A veteran visitor to the TARDIS, she also appeared in The Five Doctors where she met the first, second and fifth Doctor. Three decades of teaching little girls that they could do anything.
A few years ago I 'met' Sarah Jane again when she appeared alongside David Tennant in an episode called 'School Reunion.' I cried during that episode when K9, the brave tin robot dog, sacrificed himself to save the others. I'd never had a dog as a child and watching that episode as an adult, I wept as 'my' dog died.
I'm so terribly sad about Elisabeth's passing. Even though I never met her and only really knew her as Sarah Jane I'm pretty sure she was a warm, funny, delightful human being. Elisabeth Sladen leaves a husband, daughter, and millions of fans all over the world.