Doctor Who's Sarah Jane Smith is being recast – with Elisabeth Sladen's daughter taking on the role
Sadie Miller will play Sarah Jane opposite Tom Baker in a new story from Big Finish.
Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith is being recast for a new story from audio drama producers Big Finish, with Sadie Miller stepping in to play the character originally portrayed by her mother Elisabeth Sladen.
Miller will play Sarah Jane in Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen, based on an unmade script originally written for the TV series in 1974.
She'll appear opposite Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Christopher Naylor as companion Harry Sullivan.
Elisabeth Sladen originally portrayed Sarah Jane in Doctor Who from 1973 to 1976, later returning to the show in 2006. She also appeared in spin-offs K-9 and Company (1981) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-11).
Sladen passed away in 2011, while her co-star Ian Marter – who originally played Harry on TV – died in 1986.
Of the recastings, 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?"
Sadie Miller added: "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.
"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."
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.
Big Finish recently announced that it would be temporarily suspending studio sessions to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, though the company is still in active production using remote recording.