Elisabeth Sladen, ‘Sarah Jane Smith’ Has Died at 63

We here at Traveling the Vortex are greatly saddened by the news that Elisabeth Sladen, our beloved Sarah Jane Smith has passed on.

Our hearts go out to her family, friends and the many fans she has blessed with her talents over the years.



It is with much sadness that we can announce Elisabeth Sladen, the much-loved actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and CBBC’s The Sarah Jane Adventures, passed away this morning. She was 63.

Lis first appeared as Sarah Jane in Doctor Who in 1973 alongside the Third Doctor Jon Pertwee and stayed for three and half seasons working alongside Jon and the Fourth Doctor Tom Baker. She returned to the role on numerous occasions over the years and, in 2007, was given her own spin-off series on CBBC – The Sarah Jane Adventures – where she would appear alongside new Doctors David Tennant and Matt Smith.

The Sarah Jane Adventures brought Lis a whole new generation of fans who grew up to love her alien-busting adventures. The series was hugely popular with fans young and old and won this year’s RTS Award for best children’s drama.

Controller of CBBC Damian Kavanagh said tonight: “I’m deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Lis’ untimely death. Lis brought joy, excitement and a sense of wonder to her many fans in her role as Sarah Jane Smith. She was adored by our young audience and I know all of them will miss her as much as I will.”

The creator of The Sarah Jane Adventures Russell T Davies said: “I absolutely loved Lis. She was funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful. The universe was lucky to have Sarah Jane Smith; the world was lucky to have Lis.”

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Lead Writer and Executive Producer said: “’Never meet your heroes’ wise people say. They weren’t thinking of Lis Sladen.

“Sarah Jane Smith was everybody’s hero when I was younger, and as brave and funny and brilliant as people only ever are in stories. But many years later, when I met the real Sarah-Jane – Lis Sladen herself – she was exactly as any child ever have wanted her to be. Kind and gentle and clever; and a ferociously talented actress, of course, but in that perfectly English unassuming way.

“There are a blessed few who can carry a whole television show on their talent and charisma – but I can’t think of one other who’s done it quite so politely. I once showed my son Joshua an old episode of Doctor Who, in which Lis appeared. “But that’s Sarah Jane,” he said, confused “In old Doctor Who. From years ago. How come she always look exactly the same?” It’s not a comfort today, of course, but children will still be saying that fifty years from now.”

Keith Jones, Director, BBC Cymru Wales, said: “The Sarah Jane Adventures has been one of the most successful children’s programmes on television in recent years – and without Elisabeth Sladen it would not have happened. A brilliant presence on screen and on set, she brought the excitement and energy of the Doctor Who family of programmes, of which we are very proud at BBC Wales, to a whole new generation. She will be missed by all at BBC Wales who worked with her.”

Roger Carey, who represented Lis for many years, said. “She was not just a client, but a dear friend. She was so positive about life and her natural energy was intoxicating. She couldn’t believe her luck when her career was resurrected in her own series.”

Lis had been suffering from cancer. She leaves behind a husband, actor Brian Miller, and her daughter, Sadie.

Friday Night Who Schedule

Good afternoon class!  Thought I’d take a moment to post the line up for the next several Friday Night Who’s that we have coming up.  Obviously the big news this week is the premier (finally!) of Series Six.  We’ll obviously be reviewing those episodes, but we wanted to keep Friday Night Who going simultaneously as well, so we it upon this nugget of genius:

There are Seven (7) episodes of the new series in the first half.  There are seven (7) Doctors of old we can do stories from.  Hows that for a bit of Glenn’s favorite unpronouncable word;serendipity?  So each week we’ll split our podcast into reviewing the new Matt Smith episode for that week, along with an old classic.  We’re going to look primarily at stories that are “one offs” or would not in other ways be showcased in an upcoming companion or adversary archive.

So here’s what’s on tap:

This week: 4/22/11- William Hartnell, “The Aztecs”

4/29/11 – Patrick Troughton, “The Dominators”

5/6/11 – Jon Pertwee, “Carnival Of Monsters”

5/13/11 – Tom Baker, “The Deadly Assassin” – (and now that I realize this is a Friday the 13th, we may need to find a suitably “scary” episode instead!)

5/20/11 – Peter Davison, “Black Orchid”

5/27/11 – Colin Baker, TBD

6/3/11 – Sylvester McCoy, TBD

Our Colin and Sylv episodes are still being debated!  Feel free to weigh in on our facebook page, or through feedback here!



For tonight’s FRIDAY NIGHT WHO we’ll be watching the Peter Davidson classic story, “Earthshock”.  Join us tonight at Midnight C.S.T. for a live “tweet-a-long” on Twitter from Shaun and Glenn (I think we’ll excuse Keith from tweeting since it’s his first exposure to the episode…)  See you then!

SPOILERS! – Return of a Silver Foe


How, appropriate that in the week Keith, Shaun, and I are taking a trip back through the vortex to revisit (or visit for the first time) some of the best Cybermen stories, the BBC announces the return of the famous adversary in Series Six.

From the BBC:

We already know that the new series sees the return of friends like River Song and Craig Owens. But this latest image reveals the Cybermen will also be back!
This photo shows Rory facing a whole bunch of the terrifying giants. We last saw the Cybermen in The Pandorica Opens but as yet we don’t know when they will be stomping back into the Doctor’s life with their chilling one-word battle cry: Delete!

The Cybermen have been around for as many Doctors as the Daleks, making their first appearance along side the first Doctor in The Tenth Planet.  They made regular appearances in the second Doctor’s era, and returned time and again to terrorize humanity, and vex the Doctor and his companions.

One of the things I notice from still released today, is the absence if the Cybus logo on the chest plate.  I wonder if that means the return of the original line of cybermen instead of the army created in the alternate universe in 2006’s Rise of the Cybermen, often referred to as “Pete’s World” Cybermen. Only time will tell.


Celestial Toymaker Michael Gough Passes At 94

Doctor Who fans have lost another light in the firmament, as Michael Gough, the actor perhaps best known for his role as Alfred the butler in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) has passed. Gough may be more familiar to Who viewers as The Celestial Toymaker, from the William Hartnell serial of the same name, (which sadly, is one of many stories for which only fragments exist).

He would return to Doctor Who as Time Lord councilor Hedin in the Peter Davidson story, “Arc Of Infinity” (which coincidentally features future Doctor Colin Baker). Gough screen credits include the television shows The Saint and The Avengers, and movies Out Of Africa, Sleepy Hollow, and many of the Hammer Horror films. He most recently did voice work in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland.

Gough was 94. He will be missed.

Red Nose Day Special

In honor of Red Nose Day in the UK the BBC has put Doctor Who: Curse of Fatal Death on their website. Red Nose Day is March 18th and helps to raise money for those in need in the UK and Africa. To participate or contribute to the cause, you can go here: Red Nose Day

A Date With The Doctor

Entertainment Weekly has the scoop on the U.S. release date for Doctor Who Series Six.

The news has been verified by BBC America and the launch is set for Saturday, April 23 at 9 p.m ET (8 p.m. CT).

From EW:

Doctor Who fans, your wait is almost over. EW has learned the premiere date of the new season of the international cult hit, plus some plot details and we have a first look at the show’s marketing art.

BBC America will launch Doctor Who on Saturday, April 23 at 9 p.m ET. That’s Part One of a two-part opener penned by showrunner Steven Moffat (who also did the BBC’s Sherlock reboot — rent it if you’re a Holmes & Watson fan and haven’t seen it yet). This season also includes guest star Mark Sheppard (Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica). Alex Kingston (ER, Flash Forward) is returning for this round too.

Read more here!

Making Headlines!

Gallifrey One’s Catch 22: Islands of Mystery the Doctor Who convention going on right now in L.A. is getting some love from the media.

NBC Los Angeles posted on it’s website, a story about this weekend’s event. Evidence that Doctor Who is experiencing an surge in popularity among those in the U.S.

From NBC Los Angeles:

It’s a long way from Los Angeles to London, which may have some California-based Gallifreyans in a bit of a funk this mid-February. After all, the brand-new, much-ballyhooed Doctor Who Experience is debuting, way far from here, across the Atlantic. And, for some, pressing a TARDIS into service might be the only way to check it out.

But, take heart, time-and-space travelers: Gallifrey 2011 is taking over the dimension known as the Los Angeles Airport Marriott from Friday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 20. (Full name of the convention, we’ll note: Gallifrey One’s Catch 22 Islands of Mystery; it is the 22nd annual “Doctor Who” con in North America.)

From its name you might guess that it is a Doctor Who convention, and you’d be correct. It isn’t just any Who Con, though; it is billed as the “North American Doctor Who Celebration!”

For more of the story, click here.

For more on Gallifrey One’s Catch 22: Islands of Mystery, click here.

Newman on Torchwood?

I’m about a day behind, but several internet sites reported yesterday that Wayne Knight (of Seinfeld, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Jurassic Park fame) has joined the cast of Torchwood: Miracle Day.

From Den of Geek

We can confirm that Knight is definitely on board the new series, as has been hinted by a couple of Twitter feeds relating to the show. As Doctor Who News reported, the BBC Torchwood account sent out a Tweet saying, “We’ve got Alexa Havins here with us today with a special guest, here’s a clue ‘Uh uh uh didn’t say the magic word.'”

An interesting casting choice. While Knight’s résumé spans a variety of genre of T.V. and films, he is most known for his roll on NBC’s Seinfeld as Jerry’s quasi-adversary, Newman.

Knight first gained notoriety as Dennis, in Stephen Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, as the man who sets off the films chaotic events.

I guess we’ll find out more about Knight’s character on Torchwood in the coming months.

Doctor Who – The Movie

The day has finally come. The one I have been waiting for since the movie aired way back in May of 1996.

North American fans can now get a (legal or region 1) copy of Doctor Who: The Movie on DVD. I for one am excited to revisit this classic story and finally have access to all of the extras included on the discs.

The story has always held a special place in my heart. It was the first time I had hope that Doctor Who would make its way back to television after the wilderness years began in 1989.

I believe it also paved the way and in fact some of the inspiration for the new series that would ultimately rescue the show from the darkness in 2005.

In less than an hour I will be watching the film in all of it’s Who goodness… blemishes, continuity problems, and all.

And don’t forget we will be reviewing the story on the next episode of Traveling the Vortex, so be sure to check it out.

June 2011 North American Doctor Who DVDs

From Radio Free Skaro:

June 14 sees the next two North American releases of Classic Doctor Who stories, and this time around we get the Peter Davison story Frontios along with Sylvester McCoy’s first outing in Time and the Rani.
Frontios tells the story of a human colony in the far future, and as yet no release date is known for other parts of the world.

Time and the Rani introduces the world to Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor as he takes on the dastardly Rani in a DVD released last year in the UK.

Proper package art isn’t yet available for the titles but of course we’ll update this post once we have it.

SRP will be $24.98 each, and in the mean time check out more details at