Elisabeth Sladen dies aged 63

Normally I would never post about the death of an actress. However to me, Elisabeth Sladen was not just another actress, one of her characters helped me to stay sane and stay alive, at a time in my life when very little else was helping.

Long ago, way back in the mid 80’s, the BBC were showing reruns of the Tom Baker years of Doctor Who.  Alongside Bakers nutty, slightly deranged portrayal of the Doctor was this fantastic, young woman.  That was Elisabeth Sladen, though it would be a few more years before I knew her name in reality.  Back then to me she was Sarah Jane, the Doctors companion and more she was everything I dreamt of becoming when I grew up.

Sarah Jane was tough, smart, funny and bubbly.  She was often scared but didn’t seem to let her fears rule her.  Best of all she was a writer, well journalist but an 8 or 9-year-old doesn’t make that kind of distinction, even then I wanted to tell stories.  She was one other thing, which had then just begun to matter a great deal to me.  She was extraordinarily beautiful.

Being a very young transsexual girl is hard, especially when you don’t have any big sister to look up to.  But in some ways that fictional character, which Elisabeth Sladen had made so indescribably real to me, became for a long time the big sister I needed be able to look up to.  She had adventures, she was brave and smart and pretty.  She even had a metal dog.

She was in part, what got me through my primary education, in an all boys school.  All the bullying, for being odd in a way the other pupils couldn’t put their finger on, I could get through, because at the end of the week I might get to see Sarah Jane have another adventure.  It genuinely helped.  Probably more than even I am really aware of.

I could say a lot more, but instead I will say this.  Where ever Elisabeth Sladen is, thank you for the small way in which you helped me.  And I hope with all my heart that your family will find the happiness and peace they deserve the hard days to come.

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