I was really upset to hear this evening's announcement that the actress Elisabeth Sladen has died at the age of 63, after a long (and well hidden) struggle with cancer. I suspect that a lot of people of my age, who were children in the 1970s, will mourn the death of 'Sarah Jane'.
It's strange how we can let so many tragic news stories wash over us, but feel genuine grief when a much-loved television presenter or actor from our childhood dies. I suppose it's not just because we feel an affection for them, but also because they were part of that secure wall that protects us from the uncomfortable reality of our own mortality. Every time a well-known figure from the older generation dies, the wall weakens and the world becomes slightly less familiar.
The following clip shows Elisabeth Sladen's final scene in Doctor Who (until she revived the character of Sarah Jane Smith 30 years later). It's particularly moving now and also shows what a great actress she was, portraying a character that was both ballsy and vulnerable at the same time:
But it won't just be people of my generation who'll be upset. Elisabeth Sladen's career underwent a spectacular renaissance four years ago with the 'Sarah Jane Adventures'.
What am I going to tell my sons?