lisabeth Sladen, the actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who, is dead. She was 63.
Her sudden death - from cancer - is shocking and unexpected. Six episodes from the fifth season of The Sarah Jane Adventures - a Doctor Who spin-off - had been completed at the time of her death.
Sladen's portrayal of Sarah Jane Smith is often cited as one of the best-loved Doctor Who girls, and the only one in nearly fifty years to gain her own spin-off show. Sladen played Sarah Jane from 1973-76, and returned in 1981, 1983, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
The huge affection for Sladen - and Sarah Jane - can be seen in the headlines on multiple news outlets. The story is the number 1 most read at BBC News. A quick Google search throws up a thread at JLS Forums, of all places, where young fans of the boyband have posted messages demonstrating that the actress' death has touched people of all ages.
Stephen Fry wrote, "What terribly sad news about Elisabeth Sladen - her Sarah Jane was part of my childhood. Deepest sympathy to her family."
Noel Clarke wrote, "SARAHJANESMITHLIVES because Elisabeth Sladen made her Great. Liz, you were awesome and will be missed."
Former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies said this: "I absolutely loved Lis. She was funny and cheeky and clever and just simply wonderful. The universe was lucky to have Sarah Jane Smith, the world was lucky to have Lis."