Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Origins of Sarah Jane Smith


The latest DWM (issue 443) reviews the new Invasion of the Dinosaurs DVD release. The production notes for part five contains the "biggest bombshell in the history of Doctor Who facts, providing us with the ultimate Holy Grail.. the name of the actress originally cast as Sarah Jane Smith!" However, reviewer Neil Harris doesn't identify the actress ultimately replaced by Elizabeth Sladen.
The Radio Times has the honour of naming this enigmatic woman after almost forty years. Their website last week revealed that April Walker, a veteran of 1970's comedy shows, was cast by Barry Letts, and she actually worked on The Time Warrior rehearsals. William Gallagher writes: "..allegedly the pairing of [Jon] Pertwee's Doctor and Walker's Sarah Jane didn't work: she was a tall and more obviously strong character, along the lines of.. Liz Shaw. It's believed that Pertwee was unhappy with the decision but.. Letts recast the role. Walker was reportedly paid for.. the rest of that series.. [and] Sladen always refused" to name her predecessor.
The brilliant mocked-up Frank Bellamy-style Radio Times cover above was produced by artists Jason Fletcher and Westley Smith for the third issue of Richard Bignell's respected fanzine, Nothing at the End of the Lane. You can find more Doctor Who inspired artwork at deviantart.com, and read Walker's IMDB profile.

April Walker is seen here in The Two Ronnies (1973)

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