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Big Finish drafts in Elizabeth Sladen’s daughter to play Sarah Jane Smith in Cyberman adventure

April 20th, 2020 by Marc Comments

What?! Big Finish has recast Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith in an upcoming Doctor Who adventure with Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor!?

Unthinkable!!!!

Actually, hold on, it’s actually quite sweet news.

Actress Sadie Miller has stepped up to play Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen which will be for sale in January next year and is based on an unfilmed TV script from 1974.

But the sweet part is that Miller is, in fact, the daughter of the late Sladen and is playing the role made famous by her much-loved mum. I think that’s pretty sweet.

The adventure will star Miller alongside Tom Baker’s Doctor and Christopher Naylor as companion Harry Sullivan.

Here’s an image of the three together:

Sladen died in 2011 and the original actor who played Harry, Ian Marter, died in 1986, so this is an emotional adventure for sure.

For fans of Sladen, former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies wrote and recorded an emotional farewell for the star and character which was released yesterday on the ninth anniversary of her death. You can watch it here.

Big Finish senior producer David Richardson said: “How do you recast Sarah Jane Smith? Would you even want to? Those were the questions that bothered us – we love the character. We loved Lis Sladen. We worried it might be too soon and too difficult to go there.

“But then we realised that part of Lis lives on in Sadie, and Sadie has beautifully brought that to the role of Sarah – we all approached this carefully, and respectfully, and with love and I couldn’t be happier with Sadie’s performance. She’s done her mum proud.

“Tom has actually worked many times before with Christopher Naylor, who’s played guest roles throughout different series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. Chris is a very versatile actor, so we can cast him in so many things. But, we realised, he’s also the perfect Harry. Again, it’s very hard to follow Ian Marter, but Chris has managed to do that and Tom was full of praise for what both Sadie and Chris have done. I wonder where they could pop up next?”

Don’t forget to get your free Big Finish audio download here

Star Miller herself spoke of her hesitation to play the role: “When Big Finish asked me to play Sarah Jane for this story, I was very nervous. I didn’t want to create a performance from someone else’s. 

“So I tried to approach it as I would with any other role. I’ve tried to find my own piece of Sarah – the part of my mum that’s in me. But I have had a quick look on YouTube for Sarah Jane Smith screams, because I wasn’t quite sure how she would want me to do those. Other than that I just tried to keep it as separate in my mind as possible from the original,” she said.

“The fans of Doctor Who have always been so kind and generous to me and to my family. It was always a part of my life growing up, I was never not aware of it. People have always been very kind in letting us come along for the ride really, through conventions and now things like Big Finish and, after mum passed away, the outpouring of love for her has been lovely.”

Here’s the teaser trailer for Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen:

While Big Finish, like so many businesses, is closed down at the moment, they are able to continue as stars can record from home.

Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen will be released in January 2021 and is now available for pre-order as a collector’s edition 2-disc box set or download from bigfinish.com (here).

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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….