I was mulling over the sensitive topic of recasting Doctor Who characters. Big Finish has done a lot of this, with a whole new First Doctor crew, the brilliant Elliot Chapman as Ben Jackson, Tim Treloar as the Third Doctor and any number of people voicing Hartnell, while Frazer Hines is exceptional as Troughton. Add Jacob Dudman and everything is fair game. Or is it?
Could even Sarah Jane Smith be recast? Surely Liz Sladen is the only possible Sarah Jane… or is she?
April Walker was Sarah Jane Smith
You may not know (but do now) but Elisabeth Sladen wasn’t first choice for Sarah Jane, instead April Walker was chosen. The full story is available in Nothing At The End of the Lane Issue 3. In summary April was cast, started filming and it was felt the chemistry wasn’t there. April was stood down (and paid) and someone remembered a certain E Sladen who’d been in the UK cop show Z-Cars.
A summary of this is available on the Radio Times site: Doctor Who’s Original Sarah Jane revealed but if you want the whole piece, do dig out the feature from the wonderful Nothing At The End of the Lane. Best of all it’s available on PDF for the princely sum of two Earth pounds; a bargain by any measure! The mock-up cover at the start of the post is from the feature, and was created by JL Fletch and Westley Smith.