Time and Space

Like every Doctor Who fan, I have a Doctor. My Doctor is Tom Baker. No matter who else is cast in the role, Baker will always be The Doctor (though Eccleston came close).

Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith - image via Wikimedia Commons

But Doctor Who was never really about the Old Guy from Gallifrey. It was about the companions. And of all the nods to continuity during Russell Davies’ era, the best was bringing back Sarah Jane Smith.

Sarah Jane should be a feminist icon. Independent minded and confident, she was cast when the idea of equality for women was still regarded as quaint, and a song called “A Woman’s Place (Is In the Home”) could make the Top 50.

She was also a hell of a journalist.

The Doctor – Your Doctor – stays with you all your life. But so do the companions. At a time when arguments over equality were reduced to gimmick tennis matches, Sarah Jane was a real example to young girls of what they could achieve if they refused accept the obstacles in their paths.

And, I would argue, she was a powerful influence in teaching a generation of boys about feminism.

Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane, died yesterday. Rest in peace.


By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.