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Sarah Jane Smith is a fictional character played by Elisabeth Sladen in the long-running Britishmarker BBC Television science-fiction series Doctor Who and its spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.

An investigative journalist, Sarah Jane is a regular companion of the Third and Fourth incarnations of the Doctor, on the programme from 1973 to 1976 (seasons 11 – 14), and returns in the Fifth Doctor story "The Five Doctors" (1983), the 30th-anniversary story Dimensions In Time (1993), and most recently in the episodes "School Reunion" (2006), and "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" (2008), alongside the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, and other companions of his era.

One of the Doctor's longest serving companions, she appears as a regular in 18 stories over four seasons of the classic series and four episodes of the revived series, and is the first companion to appear in a spin-off, the 1981 television pilot K-9 and Company. She is the central character of the ongoing series The Sarah Jane Adventures.



1973-1976,1981,1983; introduction and classic run

Sarah Jane first appears in the Third Doctor serial The Time Warrior, where she has managed to infiltrate a top secret research facility by posing as her aunt, Lavinia Smith, a famous virologist. Sneaking into the TARDIS while the Doctor is preparing to follow the trail of a kidnapped scientist through time, she becomes embroiled in the subsequent adventure in the Middle Ages.

Sarah Jane then finds herself working with the Third Doctor and UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, now UNified Intelligence Taskforce) on a number of occasions. She is present when he regenerates into the Fourth Doctor at the end of Planet of the Spiders, and continues to accompany him on his journeys through time and space.

As a companion she is confident and inquisitive, and possesses a sharp mind as well as a sharp tongue. She is also a feminist — in her first appearance she is infuriated when the Doctor asks her to make coffee, and she often verbally spars with fellow companion Harry Sullivan, who has an old-fashioned and unintentionally patronising attitude towards her. However, this does not get in the way of forming a close friendship with him. In The Monster of Peladon, the Doctor advises Sarah Jane to share concepts of Women's Lib with Queen Thalira, whose power is limited on her planet because of her gender. In later episodes, Sarah Jane's views become less vocalised, but she never gives the impression that she is less than capable. In spite of the dangerous and frightening situations she often finds herself in, she loves adventure and risk, and in spite of her outward complaints, is always thrilled to go off in search of more adventure. She shares a rapport with the Third and Fourth Doctors, and is consistently one of the Doctor's most popular companions among fans.

During her time with the Doctor, Sarah Jane encounters Daleks (and is the first companion to meet their creator Davros), Cybermen, antimatter creatures on the most distant planet in the universe, android mummies in 1911 Englandmarker, ancient evils in 15th century Italymarker and other dangers, until she is returned to Earth at the end of The Hand of Fear.

Her departure from the TARDIS coincides with the Doctor's summons to his home planet, Gallifrey, to which he was forbidden to take humans at that point. However, his attempt to materialise the TARDIS near her flat in South Croydonmarker falls short of the mark. Thirty years later, when she encounters the Tenth Doctor in "School Reunion", she reveals that he had in fact abandoned her in Aberdeenmarker, Scotland. Between being dropped off by the Fourth Doctor and meeting the Tenth Doctor, Sarah Jane was herself summoned to Gallifrey where she was reunited with the Third Doctor, and met the First, Second and Fifth Doctors (in The Five Doctors). In the period after she was returned to Earth, she tells the Tenth Doctor, she gave up waiting for him to return and concluded that he had died. However, she later goes on to say that she had a feeling that the Doctor was on the alien spaceship above London in "The Christmas Invasion".

2006-present; revived series and spin-off

At the time of "School Reunion"', Sarah Jane is still single, and suggests to the Doctor that she found it difficult to hold down a lasting relationship with any man following her experiences with him. At the episode's conclusion, he leaves her a new K-9 model, to replace the destroyed K-9 Mark III he sent her as a gift in K-9 & Company.

In the lead-up to the broadcast of "School Reunion", Sladen was quoted in The Daily Mirror being somewhat critical of the characterisation of Sarah Jane in the original programme: "Sarah Jane used to be a bit of a cardboard cut-out. Each week it used to be, 'Yes Doctor, no Doctor', and you had to flesh your character out in your mind — because if you didn't, no one else would." She spoke more favourably of the characterisation in the new series.

The popularity of Sarah Jane led to the development of a spin-off following her special guest appearance in "School Reunion". The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring Sladen as Sarah Jane, is produced by BBC Wales for CBBC. It began as a 60-minute special, "Invasion of the Bane", written by Russell T Davies and Gareth Roberts shown on 1 January 2007 with a weekly series of ten episodes beginning on 24 September.

In the time between "School Reunion" and "Invasion of the Bane" (at least a year and a half), K-9 has left Sarah Jane to close off a black hole but occasionally passes close enough to contact her. Although K-9 appeared in the special and in a scene in one episode, he will not appear as a recurring character: the rights to the character of K-9 are owned by writer Bob Baker, who is developing a separate Australian TV show entitled K-9, an independent production with no other ties to Doctor Who.

Sarah Jane drives an emerald green Nissan Figaro and investigates alien interactions with Earth aided by a sentient supercomputer named Mr Smith. A watch that scans for alien life and a lipstick-shaped sonic screwdriver were, according to the show's website, gifts from the Doctor, hidden inside K-9 Mark IV when it was left for her at the end of the events shown in "School Reunion". Her low-key methods of investigation have helped protect the Earth from alien attack, which contrast to the more abrasive and militaristic approaches of UNIT and the Torchwood Institute, who, according to Sarah Jane, tend to go in "all guns blazing". Her investigations are covert and remain unknown to her neighbours in Bannerman Road, Ealingmarker which has encouraged her reputation for being formidable and reclusive.

In "Invasion of the Bane", she adopted a son, Luke Smith, and befriended neighbour Maria Jackson during her investigation of the Bubble Shock! manufacturing plant, remarking that since meeting them she is no longer content to live alone. When asked why she never married, she replies that there was only one man for her, to whom no one could ever compare.

During the course of the first series she learns how to be a mother to Luke and starts to become more "mumsy" as she puts it. She and Maria share a close friendship to the point where Maria is the person Sarah Jane "trusts the most". Along with Luke and his friend Clyde Langer they defeat various threats to Earth such as the Bane, the Slitheen, the Gorgon and General Kudlak.

The 13-year old Sarah Jane
In Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? we meet thirteen year old Sarah Jane, played by Jessica Ashworth, in 1964. In that year, Sarah Jane witnessed the death of her friend Andrea Yates who fell from a pier they were both playing upon and whom Sarah Jane was unable to rescue. It was this event that gave Sarah Jane a thirst for justice, and a strong desire to fight against loss of life.

Sarah Jane crosses back over to Doctor Who in the two-part fourth series finale "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", along with Luke, Mr. Smith, and K-9. Here she encounters Davros again, who still recognizes her. She plays a major role in the episodes, temporarily rejoining the Doctor as a companion. Once she helps summon him with the subwave network and Mr. Smith, she heads out to meet up with him but is stopped by two Daleks who go to kill her. Before they can however, Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler teleport in and kill them. With Jackie and Mickey she is taken prisoner but manages to escape into a side room in the Crucible before she can be killed by the Reality Bomb. She, Jackie, Mickey and Jack Harkness try to threaten Davros (who recognised her from Genesis of the Daleks and was surprised) into stopping the Reality Bomb with a Warp Star she owned, but are captured once again. She witnesses the disarming of the Reality Bomb, the destruction of all the Daleks and the presumed death of Davros. During the towing of Earth home she pilots the TARDIS herself alongside the Doctor, Mickey Smith, Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Jack Harkness but after it lands runs home to Luke. She is also able to shorten the process of transferring the TARDIS base code numerals to Mr. Smith by summoning K-9 to do it.

The second series of The Sarah Jane Adventures reveals new backstory about Sarah Jane's family. Her parents, Eddie Smith and Barbara Wilson Smith, died in a car accident in 1951, orphaning Sarah Jane and leaving her to be raised by her Aunt Lavinia. As a girl in her Aunt Lavinia's house, Sarah Jane was frightened by a clown doll.

She has a brief romantic relationship with barrister Peter Dalton and an aborted wedding ceremony in the third series episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith. The Trickster once again lures someone by preventing their would-be death, in order to change Sarah Jane's life. In this case, he spares Dalton fom a household accident and inserts him into Sarah Jane's life; in the end, Dalton rejects the Trickster and accepts his own death, leaving Sarah Jane a quasi-widow at the altar. Owing to the Trickster's temporal phase shift, she is perceived by the guests - aside from Luke, Rani, Clyde, K-9 and the Doctor - to have been abandoned by Dalton.

Elisabeth Sladen has been spotted during location filming for the 2009 Doctor Who Christmas specials.

Age, period set, and the UNIT dating controversy

In Pyramids of Mars, broadcast 1976, she states (more than once) that she was "from 1980", which implies that her adventures with the Doctor took place in the near future with respect to the time of broadcast. This has been of some significance in what has become known as the UNIT dating controversy - a debate as to in which time period the stories depicting the Third and Fourth Doctor as UNIT's scientific adviser were set.

"A Girl's Best Friend", the sole episode of K-9 and Company, is set 18-25 December 1981 (airing three days later), and Sarah Jane's adventures with the Doctor and UNIT are part of her memory. Moreover, she receives K-9 Mark III from the Doctor in that episode, it having waited in a crate for her since 1978, and retains it until "School Reunion" in 2006, never having had it during her tenure with the Doctor.

In The Sarah Jane Adventures, the character has been depicted as being born in the spring of 1951 (she was shown as a baby in August 1951 in The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith and as 13 in 1964 in Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?. Secrets of the Stars reveals her birthsign is Taurus, placing her birthday in April or May). In the Third Doctor, and the character's second, story Invasion of the Dinosaurs, broadcast 1974, the character stated she was 23, implying that her adventures with the Doctor took place contemporaneously with the time of broadcast.


Sarah Jane appears in several Doctor Who novels and short stories, notably in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels Interference: Book One and Interference: Book Two by Lawrence Miles; and the Past Doctor Adventures novel Bullet Time by David A. McIntee, all taking place after she stops travelling with the Doctor. She also appears in Ian Marter's Harry Sullivan's War published by Target Books. Ian Marter played her fellow-traveller Harry Sullivan in seven Doctor Who serials on television.

Interference and the Virgin New Adventures novel Christmas on a Rational Planet, also by Miles, suggest that Sarah Jane married someone named Paul Morley sometime between 1996 and 1998 and took his name. In the short story Lily by Jackie Marshall, in Big Finish's Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury, the Fifth Doctor pays a visit to an older Sarah Jane, who has a daughter, Lauren, and an autistic granddaughter, Lily; Lauren's father is named Will.

In the Past Doctor Adventure Bullet Time, Sarah Jane is apparently killed- although the story is ambiguous about her demise- in 1997 when she sacrifices herself so that she cannot be used as a hostage to stop the Seventh Doctor from taking action to aid an escaping alien ship, contradicting her other spin-off appearances. However, the novel takes place during a story arc where enemies of the Doctor were attempting to eliminate his companions from the timeline, and Sarah Jane's death may have been reversed when those enemies are defeated. In any case, other stories have shown her alive after 1997.

Sarah Jane was mentioned in the prologue of the Virgin Publishing novelisation of The Power of the Daleks by John Peel. It revealed that Sarah Jane was working as UNIT's official chronicler and that in "1996" she covered the aftermath of the Cybermen's failed attempt to drain Earth of its energy and the technology left behind in their wake (The Tenth Planet, which was actually set in 1986).

Stories written as in-universe articles in Doctor Who Magazine Winter Special 1991 (subtitled "UNIT Exposed"), made statements about Sarah Jane's life after leaving the Fourth Doctor. She wrote a history of UNIT, Fighting for Humankind ("heavily vetted and evidently subjected to considerable censorship"), as well as a series of science fiction novels. These featured an extraterrestrial called the Doctor and his companion Nicola Jones, who frequently encountered WIN (World Investigative Network), commanded by General Lutwidge-Douglas. Titles included Day of the Dinosaurs, Sutekh the Destroyer and The North Sea Monster.

The continuity of Sarah Jane's appearances in these works, like all Doctor Who media, is unclear, and they may not even take place in the same continuity as one another. For example, the novels' mention of Sarah Jane as having been married is contradicted by the Sarah Jane Smith audio play Dreamland, and the Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Invasion of the Bane".

Audio drama

Between seasons 13 and 14, Sladen appeared as Sarah Jane, with Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, in the audio play LP The Pescatons (1976). She also appeared with Baker in "The Time Machine", episode three of the BBC Radio series Exploration Earth on 4 October 1976.

Sarah Jane also appears in two audiobook stories based on the Sarah Jane Adventures (released in November 2007) on CD: The Glittering Storm by Stephen Cole and The Thirteenth Stone by Justin Richards, with both stories read by series star Elisabeth Sladen. This is the first time that BBC Audiobooks have commissioned new content for exclusive release on audio.. Two new audio stories ("Ghost House" and "Time Capsule") were released in November 2008, both read again by Sladen..

Sarah Jane (played by Sladen) also appeared in two Radio Plays starring Jon Pertwee as The Doctor in the 1990s: The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space. (BBC)

The canonicity of Sarah Jane's appearances in the audio dramas is, like all Doctor Who spin-off media, unclear, and they may not even take place in the same continuity as one another. For example, the novels' mention of Sarah Jane as having been married is contradicted by the Sarah Jane Smith audio play Dreamland, and the Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Invasion of the Bane".

Reprising the role

Elisabeth Sladen has returned to the role of Sarah Jane eleven times since she left Doctor Who in 1976:

  1. In a 1981 pilot for a proposed spin-off television series titled K-9 and Company where Sarah Jane was given K-9 Mark III. She was also said to have worked for the Reuters news agency. However, the planned series never materialised.
  2. Sladen played Sarah Jane again in the 1983 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors, appearing alongside Jon Pertwee once more (K-9 also made a brief appearance, directly referring to the events of K-9 and Company).
  3. Sladen also appeared as Sarah Jane in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time.
  4. In 1993 Sladen voiced the character of Sarah Jane in BBC Radio audio play The Paradise of Death (Radio 5) together with Pertwee as the Doctor and Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
  5. Another BBC Radio drama, The Ghosts of N-Space, was made in 1994 (although not broadcast until 1996, on Radio 2), again featuring Sladen with Jon Pertwee's Doctor and Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier.
  6. In 1995 Sladen appeared as Sarah Jane in the Reeltime Pictures' video production Downtime, together with Courtney as the Brigadier and Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield.
  7. Big Finish Productions has also produced a series of nine Sarah Jane Smith audio adventures set in the present day.
  8. In the third episode of the 2006 series of Doctor Who, "School Reunion", Sladen reprised the role of Sarah Jane on television. K-9 also appeared.
  9. In 2007, Sladen received her own series again in The Sarah Jane Adventures, of which the the second and third series were broadcast in 2008 and 2009, resepectively.
  10. In 2008, Sladen reappears in the Doctor Who episodes "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End", for which she received star billing in the opening titles.
  11. She is scheduled to appear in the 2009 two-part Doctor Who Christmas special, "The End of Time".

Other mentions

Sarah Jane Smith is mentioned by the 5th Doctor and the Brigadier in Mawdryn Undead, by the 6th Doctor in The Mysterious Planet and her name is whispered by the 7th Doctor in The Curse of Fenric. A vision of Sarah Jane is seen along with every other companion aside from Leela on the scanner screen in Resurrection of the Daleks. Sarah Jane is also seen calling out to the Doctor just before his regeneration in Logopolis.

List of appearances


Doctor Who

Season 11 (1973-74)
Season 12 (1974-75)
Season 13 (1975-76)
Season 14 (1976)
20th anniversary special (1983)
30th anniversary special (1993)
Series 2 (2006)
Series 4 (2008)
Specials (2010)
  • Cameo in The End of Time

K-9 and Company (1981)

The Sarah Jane Adventures

New Year's Day special (2007)
Series 1 (2007)
Series 2 (2008)
Series 3


Audio dramas

Argo Records
BBC Radio
Big Finish Productions
Series One
Series Two
BBC Audiobooks
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Glittering Storm by Stephen Cole (2007)
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Thirteenth Stone by Justin Richards (2007)
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Ghost House by Stephen Cole (2008)
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Time Capsule by Peter Anghelides (2008)

(all Sarah Jane Adventures audiobook CDs were read by Elisabeth Sladen)


The Companions of Doctor Who

Virgin Missing Adventures

Virgin New Adventures

Eighth Doctor Adventures

Past Doctor Adventures

Short stories



  1. Parker, Kevin W., untitled sidebar, Doctor Who Magazine Winter Special, 1991, Marvel Comics Ltd., p. 7.

External links

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