Sladen played Sarah Jane Smith on the classic series from 1973 - 1976 and would return to the role twice in the 1980s. After the series revival, she returned in the 2006 episode School Reunion. Her appearance proved popular, and she soon was starring in her own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, aimed at children.
Sladen began acting as a child in school, eventually heading to drama school and beginning her professional career in repertory theatre. By 1971, she was making guest appearances in such television series as Doomwatch and Z-Cars.
In 1973, longtime Doctor Who companion Katy Manning was leaving the series, and producer Barry Letts was scrambling to find a replacement. Sladen was recommended to Letts by the producer of Z-Cars, and when she auditioned for Letts and current Doctor Jon Pertwee, it was clear she was the best possible choice.
|Sladen and Tom Baker|
Sladen reprised the role in a pilot for a failed TV spin-off called K-9 and Company, and once again in the 1983 anniversary special The Five Doctors. She would reprise the role for charity specials and audio productions, but it was not until 2006 that she again "officially" played the role in Doctor Who proper. That appearance led to her successful spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which debuted in 2007, and recently began airing its fourth season.
|Sladen and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith|