Actress Elisabeth Sladen, possibly the performer who has maintained the longest on-screen association with a Doctor Who character in the history of the franchise, dies at the age of 65. In 1973, the producers of Doctor Who had hired another actress to play the part of new companion Sarah Jane Smith, only to meet with strenuous objections from series lead Jon Pertwee. Elisabeth Sladen was then cast in the part, continuing to play Sarah Jane through 1976, one of the longest-running companions in the original series. Numerous times she had been approached to reprise her role, only agreeing to do so in 1981 in her own spinoff, K-9 & Company, which never made it past the pilot stage. After reprising the role of Sarah Jane for Big Finish’s audio spinoff series centered around the character, she was asked to play the part again – on television – alongside David Tennant, sparking new interest in the character and ultimately leading to her own spinoff series, The Sarah Jane Adventures. Filming of the fifth season of that series had been put on hold while she was admitted to the hospital.