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Doctor Who Season Premiere To Acknowledge Passing of Series Alum Elisabeth Sladen

BBC America’s Doctor Who this weekend  will remember beloved franchise alumna Elisabeth Sladen, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 63, following a long fight with cancer.

A spokesperson for BBC America tells TVLine that Sladen’s passing will be acknowledged during Doctor Who ‘s Season 6 premiere, airing this Saturday at 9/8c.

Sladen portrayed Sarah Jane Smith — perhaps the most iconic of the many Doctors’ companions — from 1973-76, opposite Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker. After reprising her role for the series’ 20th anniversary special and a 2006 Doctor Who episode fronted by David Tennant, the Liverpool-born actress went on to headline The Sarah Jane Adventures, a spin-off that ran for four seasons on the children’s channel CBBC. There, in an October 2010 two-parter, she got to working alongside Matt Smith aka the Eleventh and current Doctor.

Production on Season 5 of The Sarah Jane Adventures began earlier this year but was suspended due to Sladen’s illness.

CBBC controller Damian Kavanagh says in a statement that he was “deeply saddened and shocked” by the news of Slader’s passing, adding, “Lis brought joy, excitement and a sense of wonder to her many fans…. She was adored by our young audience and I know all of them will miss her as much as I will.”

Russell T Davies, who rebooted Doctor Who in 2005 and created The Sarah Jane Adventures, remembers Sladen as “funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful. The universe was lucky to have Sarah Jane Smith, the world was lucky to have Lis.” (Davies can be heard further remembering Sladen at this BBC News site.)

Many more fond remembrances from cast mates, writers and producers can be found here.