Memory Lane: Time travellers

The Doctor ( Jon Pertwee ) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) with a chocolate Dalek cake, baked specially for the opening of the Doctor Who Exhibition in Blackpool, in 1974.

The Doctor ( Jon Pertwee ) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) with a chocolate Dalek cake, baked specially for the opening of the Doctor Who Exhibition in Blackpool, in 1974.

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TIME traveller Sarah Jane Smith made just a few appearances in Blackpool, but on each occasion she was surrounded and greeted by hordes of adoring fans.

North West actress Elisabeth Sladen, who created an icon of the sci-fi world in her role as journalist Sarah Jane, lost her battle with cancer earlier this year, at the age of 63.

But her legacy, having appeared in Doctor Who as companion to both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, certainly lives on.

The new issue of the official Doctor Who magazine devotes no fewer than 50 pages in tribute to the star, with a wealth of photographs, including The Gazette’s coverage of the 1975 Illuminations Switch-On.

The character of Sarah Jane soon became a hit with family viewers, remaining in the BBC TV series from 1973 until her Tardis travels ended in 1976.

Doctor Who magazine describes Elisabeth’s stint with Tom Baker as remaining the definitive Tardis team for a generation.

But Sarah Jane was back in 2006, sharing the screen with 10th Doctor, David Tennant.

Elisabeth was then given her own spin-off showcase, The Sarah Jane Adventures, created by the-then Doctor Who supremo Russell T Davies, and running for four series from 2007.

Reminiscing in the Doctor Who magazine, Tom Baker recalls: “The funniest thing we ever did was the Blackpool Illuminations in 1975. It was a big deal. It was me, Lis and Ian (Marter who played Harry), who Lis and I were so fond of – and we had such a good time.

“There were 15,000 people in Talbot Square. Fantastic! It was like we were rock stars. The council employees, the office fellows, dressed up as Cybermen.

“They had explosives in their hands, little fireworks, so when I pointed at them with my sonic screwdriver, the explosives went off.

“PYYOWW! And they fell down, and everybody cheered.”

During that same visit, Elisabeth, Tom and Ian – in character but wearing Junior Reporter Club badges – met up with some of The Gazette’s prize winning Junior Reporter Club members.

The previous year, Elisabeth had joined the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, to officially open the original Doctor Who Exhibition, on Blackpool’s Golden Mile.

Elisabeth was born in Liverpool, and began her career as an assistant stage manager at the city’s Playhouse theatre.

She made her silver screen debut as an extra in the 1965 movie Ferry Cross The Mersey.

Her first small screen appearance was as a barmaid in six episodes of Coronation Street.

This was followed by pieces in a range of hit TV shows, ranging from Z Cars to Some Mothers Do ’Av ’Em. But it was in joining Doctor Who that she made her mark.

The magazine tribute is illustrated with many rare and unpublished photographs, and includes interviews with Tom Baker, David Tennant, Elisabeth’s husband Brian Miller and their daughter Sadie, and the final interview with Elisabeth herself.

Her maxim? “You’ve got to believe it. If you can make people believe, you’ve won.”

Doctor Who magazine, published by Panini, dated November, is on the racks now, price £4.99.