The original actress cast to play Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who, before Elisabeth Sladen took on the role, has been revealed.
It was long knew that another actress was hired to play the iconic companion before Sladen was cast in the role. However, the actress was let go because it was felt she wasn’t suitable for the role after all. The name of the actress hasn’t been revealed until now, decades later. The truth is revealed in the commentary for the Invasion of the Dinosaurs which is released on DVD in the new UNIT Files box-set. The story features Sarah Jane and the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) returning to London to find it has been evacuated because of the appearance of dinosaurs.
The commentary reveals that the original actress hired to play Sarah Jane was….April Walker. The actress has many roles under her belt with most recent being appearances in Waking the Dead, Judge John Deed and BBC Four biopic Gracie! In the 1970s she appeared in many programmes such as Fawlty Towers, Beryl’s Lot, Anna Karenina, The Onedin Line, Dad’s Army and midlands soap opera Crossroads.
However, Walker’s casting as Sarah Jane wasn’t to be and she was let go from the contract. Reportedly there was no chemistry between her and Pertwee who liked to take a “fatherly” type role with his companions. So Barry Letts, the producer, continued searching for a new actress and Elisabeth Sladen, who Pertwee took an immediate shine to, was hired and well the rest is history.
- The UNIT Files, which comprises of The Invasion of the Dinsoaurs and The Android Invasion, is out now on DVD.