I was saddened to read today of the death of Elizabeth Sladen who played Sarah Jane, one of the Doctor’s many companions in Doctor Who.
Sad too, that Elisabeth was only 63. It’s no age at all for these days.
I am by no means an inveterate Doctor Who fanboy but have watched the series from its inception up to the present day. Sarah-Jane was the first female companion to be more than just an adjunct to the Doctor. It was a pleasure to see her return to the updated show during David Tenant’s time as the incumbent. I must admit, though, that I didn’t bother with the spin-off Sarah-Jane Adventures; I don’t think they were meant for me anyway.
With the demise of Nicholas Courtney that means two fondly remembered Doctor Who characters’ actors have now gone in less than two months.
Elisabeth Claira Heath Sladen: 1/2/1946-19/4/2011. So it goes.
This iconic character first appeared in Doctor Who in the Patrick Troughton era but became an integral part of the show during John Pertwee’s incarnation.
The actor who played him, Nicholas Courtney, had appeared in the programme in another role as early as 1965 opposite William Hartnell and – as Lethbridge-Stewart, in charge of the British arm of UNIT – with all the later TV versions of the Doctor up to Sylvester McCoy excepting that of Colin Baker.
As Colonel and Brigadier he was playing an essentially decent man who was (to my mind rather unfortunately) too prone to resort to his area of expertise, military means. The phrase most associated with the character was, “Five rounds rapid!” So much so that Courtney used that as the title of his autobiography.
While Courtney appeared in many other roles it is probably as Lethbridge-Stewart that he will be best remembered – certainly by fans of Doctor Who.
William Nicholas Stone Courtney: 16/12/1929-22/02/2011. So it goes.
For me Smith doesn’t embody the role the way previous Doctors have. (As far as the new Who is concerned I was never taken by Christopher Eccleston, either, come to that.)
The character of Amy Pond, however, makes for a cracking companion, not merely an adjunct but substantially more pro-active than those who have accompanied the Doctor before (including Rose Tyler) and capable of carrying a sub-plot without reference back to the Doctor but in this sense she was underused.
And once again, a la Russell T, we had her friendships and relationships as a focus of the stories.
Can we have a bit more universe spanning please and stop relying on entanglements such as these to create a sense of empathy and emotional impact?
Another quibble was that I wasn’t entirely happy with the story arc of the series. What with all the “will never have existed” malarky, it skirted dangerously close to “it was all a dream.”
I know it’s all fiction, but fiction requires rather more substantial backing than this, otherwise it’s not worthwhile people investing their time in consuming it.
Okay. Charges of gingerism dropped for the moment since no new mention of it was made. Plus the latest companion (like Catherine Tate before her) is a redhead.
Except… The child she was when she first met the doctor was not redheaded. Now how is that exactly? I know this is loosely Science Fiction but usually hair colour diminishes on ageing.
As a setter-upper the episode was passable but no more. A bit harum-scarum. And what is it with Who and creatures with fangs?
I’m not yet convinced by Matt Smith in the role. Full marks for the new assistant’s Scottishness, though.
The acting of the wee lass playing the young Amelia was excellent. Don’t suppose the doctor could have such a callow companion, though. Not nowadays anyway. (The original Doctor had his granddaughter, Susan, An Unearthly Child, with him, of course. She was supposedly of school age but was played by someone much older than that.)
The BBC has been showing trailers for the series – some scenes appeared before the end credits of Episode 1. I was tickled by the khaki Dalek (complete with canvas webbing belt) emerging from the sandbag enclosure.
Pity it can’t carry a swagger stick. That would have been even funnier.
It seems I may have done Russell T something of a disservice. According to the comments in a blog which I frequent, the dialogue for the new Doctor’s scene was actually scripted by Steven Moffat, the new overall supremo for the series.
Also the line, “And still not ginger,” seems to be a reference to one of David Tennant’s first utterances in the role. I had forgotten he was given that to say but now I’ve been reminded I do vaguely recollect it. As I recall now, Tennant said it in a regretful tone, though, which I did not think Matt Smith did.
For me, the new doctor has got off on the wrong foot.
I’ve just watched the second of the Doctor Who specials which were on over the holiday season.
The story was pretty much awful. (Thank you, Onebrow, for this pithy summing up.)
The coda epitomised everything that was wrong with Russell T Davies’s oversight of the series. It was so far up itself it was excruciating. All of the Doctor’s companions since the programme’s resurrection (and their families!) made an appearance merely in order that Tennant’s Doctor could say farewell. Ladle on the treacle why don’t you?
And the new Doctor didn’t get himself off on the right foot, either. Examining himself for changes in appearance he dragged a lock of hair down past his eyes and said in a pleased tone, “And still not ginger.”
And still not ginger? And still not ginger?
Would you think it acceptable, Russell, if your character had said, “And still not black?” or “And still not gay?”
To pose this question is to underline the gratuitousness – not to mention offensiveness – of the comment.
The Doctor surely ought to be above such things, Russell, even if you’re not.
Posted in Doctor Who at 8:51 pm on 26 December 2009
I managed to watch most of Hamlet today – the need to take in food interrupted it a bit. (Wouldn’t 7-10 or 8-11 pm have been better time slots?) Quite well done, I thought.
Not like the previous day’s Doctor Who, which was pretty much awful. I’ve always disliked the Russell T Davies episodes. So much recursive stuff about the Doctor’s companions’ families.
My younger son for some reason took a liking to Doctor Who even though it was in its long hiatus when he was growing up. As a result he has much more of an encyclopædic knowledge of the Who canon than me. He was of much the same opinion about this Christmas special as I was.
I’m more hopeful for the upcoming Steven Moffat driven series but I’m not sure about the new Doctor. Time will tell.