Doctor Who will honour actress Elisabetha Sladen when it returns to our screens this weekend, it has been revealed. The hit sci-fi programme which stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan will air a special tribute to the late Sladen who played investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith on the show during the 70's before countless guest appearances during the 90's and 90's.
Elisabeth tragically died yesterday at the age of just 63 after complications in her battle with cancer which she had decided not to publicise. Sladen reprised the role of Sarah Jane in 2006 for one episode before head writer Russell T. Davies created a new show entitled The Sarah Jane Adventures which aired on CBBC to criticial acclaim. The show was due to air for a fifth series later this year.
When asked if a tribute would be aired on the episode entitled ''The Impossible Astronaut'' which is due to air on Saturday, BBC bosses told showbiz and television website Digital Spy: ''The production team are planning something suitable.''
Reacting to the sad news, current Doctor Matt Smith said: ''What struck me about Lis was her grace. She welcomed me, educated me and delighted me with her tales and adventures on Doctor Who. And she also seemed to have a quality of youth that not many people retain as they go through life. Her grace and kindness will stay with me because she had such qualities in abundance and shared them freely. I will miss her, as will the world of Doctor Who and all the Doctors that had the good pleasure to work with Lis Sladen and travel the universe with Sarah Jane.''
Also reacting to the sad news was Tracy-Ann Oberman who also starred in Doctor Who who said: ''Oh no! Just on Twitter and saw sad news about Liz Sladen. I knew she was ill, but what happened. Rip Sarah Jane. You were THE assistant. #dw''
Speaking in tribute to the actress were her Sarah Jane Adventures co-stars Alexander Armstrong who voices Mr. Smith and Finn Jones who plays Santiago Jones. Armstrong commented: ''Just heard news of Elisabeth Sladen's death. A wonderful actress - devastating news for all Doctor Who and Sarah Jane fans. Sad for Mr. Smith too.''
Meanwhile, Finn who worked with the actress closesly on the CBBC series said: ''Sad to hear Elisabeth Sladen has passed away. A truly beautiful, talented and wonderful woman - a pleasure and honour to work with.'' If you're as sad as us at TellyMix about the tragic death please post your messages. For a full selection of tributes from co-stars and friends of Sladen, visit the Digital Spy page