FANS have been paying tribute to iconic Doctor Who actress Elisabeth Sladen, who has died at the age of 63.

Elisabeth played assistant Sarah Jane Smith opposite Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker and reprised her role as the gutsy investigative journalist several times over the years, including the 2006 episode School Reunion.

She went on to star in spin-off children’s series The Sarah Jane Adventures, which saw guest appearances from David Tennant and current Doctor Matt Smith.

The show proved a hit with a new generation of youngsters and was one of the BBC’s highest ever rated children’s programmes.

In 2007, Elisabeth appeared at the annual SF Ball cult TV convention in Bournemouth, where she told the Daily Echo that she loved her time in the Tardis, describing her co-stars as “a joy to work with”.

B Jones, SF Ball spokesperson and Doctor Who fan, remembered the actress as being “great fun”.

She said: “When she came to our convention she told us she was dressed by her daughter because she was representing Sarah Jane and thought she looked mumsy.

“She was open and welcoming and keen to talk about the resurgence of the character. She was so interested in the fans and what they had to say.”

The Sarah Jane character was so popular with fans because she was “one of the first females who didn’t scream every time something went wrong,” added B.

Elisabeth twice came to Dorset during her time with Doctor Who, filming part of Death to the Daleks at ARC Sandpit in Gallows Hill with Jon Pertwee in 1973, and scenes for The Seeds of Doom with Tom Baker at Athelhampton House in 1975.

The fifth series of the Sarah Jane Adventures was due to be broadcast some time this year.