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You are in: Norfolk > Entertainment > Arts, Film & Culture > Film, TV & Animation > Doctor Who: Ongoing adventures for Elisabeth Sladen

Elisabeth Sladen at Cult TV Festival 2006

Elisabeth Sladen

Doctor Who: Ongoing adventures for Elisabeth Sladen

Actress Lis Sladen reprised her character of Sarah Jane Smith, Doctor Who's former companion, in the episode School Reunion earlier this year. Watch as she talks about returning to the show and her new series The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Doctor Who continues to go from strength-to-strength, bagging a hat-trick of National Television Awards this year.

The most recent season, starring David Tennant and Billie Piper, brought with it the return of some old enemies in the Cybermen, along with some old friends.

Martin Barber interviews Elisabeth Sladen

Sarah Jane Smith, still thought of by many as the all-time favourite companion of the Doctor, returned to our screens in the episode School Reunion, broadcast on Saturday 29 April, 2006.

For actress Elisabeth Sladen, the episode marked her return to the show more than 30 years since she first stepped aboard the TARDIS.

While visiting Norwich in April, she told BBC Norfolk: "I think it's the last time that you'll see her in the new series, but not the last time you'll have seen Sarah Jane – I hope not."

And now we know for certain that she'll be back, as multi-award winning writer Russell T Davies has written a new series for CBBC called The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Just days after finishing filming for the new show, Elisabeth Sladen shared her thoughts on School Reunion and her excitement about the forthcoming Sarah Jane Adventures, in an exclusive webTV interview with BBC Norfolk during the Cult TV Festival in Hemsby.

MB: You must have been delighted at the response to School Reunion.

ES: Absolutely. I was so heartened. The one thing I wanted was people from the classic series watching School Reunion would find it believable.

That it was the journey [Sarah Jane] would have made. The decisions she would have taken and the feelings she'd have felt.

And then the new fans that have come along with the new series would embrace her, which I think they did. It was lovely.

MB: What was the most challenging thing about returning to the show?

ES: The most difficult thing was taking a space behind Billie as she was now the assistant. But that was fine because that was Sarah's place and so, that was my place. The two collided. The angst that she felt was also the reality.

I had very fond and real remembrances of the team that we were with.

So you'd go on set again and it would be Doctor Who, yet there was no-one from my team there, yet the people who were behind the camera they wanted to be there like when I was working on it before.

It was all there again and the great energy that has to be on that show that came through David and Billie, such drive. Whereas I had to hang back, I couldn't drive at all.

MB: Was that hard?

No, it was the right place to be. But it had its moments where it was difficult to take that step back.

MB: Why do you think School Reunion was so successful?

ES: I don't know. The people who work on DW productions love it. They really go for it.

David Tennant and Elisabeth Sladen

The Doctor and Sarah Jane say goodbye

There's energy there before the actor gets there and I think that’s what comes through. The great support behind you.

MB: Talk me though that last scene as Sarah Jane finally got the Doctor to say goodbye.

ES: I didn't know what I was going to do in that scene. I didn't know how it was going to be staged.

I think it's very good that it ended on an up-note which has been such a spring-board into this new series. I think it brought closure and realisation.

MB: It really sets out the stall for the new Sarah Jane series...

ES: We finished School Reunion in the autumn [2005] and I didn't know until early January that they wanted to see me for something else.

Initially I thought it was Torchwood. I thought 'ooh I'm going to get pass the nine o'clock zone', but t'was not to be - but I'm really, really pleased.

Russell T Davies, the whole engine behind this, started out with children's television.

It's absolutely amazing that he wants to go back and write for children’s television, but give them the ammunition that's good and they will aspire to it.

MB: You've just finished filming The Sarah Jane Adventures, what can you tell me about it?

ES: Well, what's been said in the press so far. [She laughs]

K-9 and Sarah Jane Smith with the TARDIS

K-9 and Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen)

Sarah Jane is back on Earth and back to her job as a journalist. She has her house. This house is set in the present day in London, but it's a different kind of house.

I saw it on location and it's so what she would have. It has a style that you can't quite pin down. It's a little bit mix and match.

Opposite Sarah Jane lives Maria, a young girl, who's just moved in with her family. Maria has a friend Kelsey and then there is another being… human or whatever!

I don't know if I've said too much there? I don't think so, it has mentioned three [people] in the press. [She smiles but refuses to say anymore on the subject]

MB: What's the best thing about stepping back into Sarah Jane's shoes, if you've ever really taken them off...

ES: I left Sarah Jane, but she never left me. I think it's lovely to see what happens to her and if she survives in this different area of television.

I personally love the format, I think it works incredibly well. We filmed most of it on location and it was just the last two days in the studio.

You have a studio where there is the Doctor Who set with the TARDIS, the Torchwood set and the Sarah Jane set.

It is the most incredible set. I was still finding things, I was still rehearsing when it was a take. You keep finding things in odd corners – it's great.

MB: We're at the 13th annual Cult TV Festival. How important is it to meet fans at events like this?

ES: How better to get feedback and criticism. Obviously I want to promote the Sarah Jane Investigates as it's worth promoting and I'm delighted for the feedback on School Reunion.

I haven't been here for nine years, but it's so lovely to come back with a new peg to hang your hat on.

Martha Jones and the Doctor

Martha Jones and the Doctor

MB: Finally, what would your advice be to Freema Agyeman as she steps into the TARDIS as Martha Jones, the Doctor's new assistant.

ES: Oh do it your way. [She smiles]

Do it your way, which I'm sure she will otherwise she wouldn't have been chosen.

They were filming on nights on Doctor Who when we were there so I didn't see her, but I'd love to see her some time and see how she’s getting on.

last updated: 04/02/2008 at 18:40
created: 05/11/2006

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