Tuesday was a sad day for Whovians. Elisabeth Sladen passed away; she was only 63. She is best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. Her portrayal of the character endeared her to hearts of hundreds of thousands of fans. She had the sort of presence that made you look up and pay attention.

She made her first appearance on the series in 1973 alongside the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee. She stuck around for a while and became the Fourth Doctor’s assistant. The investigative reporter was plucky and perfectly capable of handling herself when facing the classic Doctor Who enemies like the Daleks or the Cybermen. I first met Sladen as Sarah Jane in the new series. She showed up in the “School Reunion” episode. She stole the show and not just because she brought trusty K-9 with her. She was resourceful, brave, and the only companion I’d want to have coffee with (of the ones I’ve met so far). Certainly only one of a couple companions who I would want to have my back in a fight. From that one episode, I knew I wanted to go back to earlier Doctor Who just to see more of Sarah Jane.Sladen was so popular that BBC developed a children’s show called The Sarah Jane Adventures. Season four of the show just aired in October and November 2010. In addition to the spin-off, she’s appeared in a few more Doctor Who episodes. I was thrilled to see her again at the end of season four. I was drawn to her spark. You just know that Sarah Jane’s vibrance isn’t only the character, it’s Sladen shining through. It’s apparent in interviews and even photos. She was one fantastic lady, and the world is a sadder place without her.