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Audio Book Review


Elisabeth Sladen
The Autobiography


Author: Elisabeth Sladen
Read by: Caroline John

RRP: £15.99
ISBN: 978 1 4458 7826 3
Available 01 December 2011

The passing of Elisabeth Clara Heath-Sladen in 2011 meant that fans of Doctor Who lost another well-loved member of their television family. However, shortly before her untimely death she completed her much awaited autobiography.

Elisabeth Sladen: The Autobiography (13 hrs, 15 min) is a twelve audio CD set of the reading of her book, read by Caroline John (liz Shaw in Doctor Who) as well as a forward written and read by David Tennant.

If we learn anything about Elisabeth is that she was a warm woman full of humility and humanity. She is modest about her success and kindly to those she could have been justifiably nasty. Generally she comes over as a well-round decent human being.

If you’re a fan of the show's earlier years and Sarah Jane’s recent revival, you’ll find the autobiography full of anecdotes about the shows. But this is less about the show, it’s about her life. She takes us through her first start in acting, although she nearly was scuppered by turning out to be an excellent manager. A few well-placed mistakes saw her moving back into playing Shakespeare, before branching out into various cameo roles in some of the sixties and seventies most iconic programmes, including Z-Cars, Doomwatch and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.

It was her role as Sarah Jane Smith (1973-1976), with which she gained most recognition to three generations of science fiction fans, a role she would subsequently revisit over the coming decades since leaving the show. She was probably the only actress to play opposite Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith.

The book is well read by Caroline John, who has a very non-intrusive way of reading, allowing you to bypass the speaker and just listen to the words and stories. The audio is clear without any obvious faults.

It’s a moving story from a lady who would have been too modest to acknowledge her impact on more than one generation. At the end of her run with Tom Baker she made him promise not to forget her, he didn’t and neither shall we.


Charles Packer

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