I don't known if I've ever been quite so stunned by the death of someone I'd never met as when I discovered that Lis Sladen had died.
I simply couldn't believe it. Literally. Surely an error? Cancer? But she was in the Sarah Jane Adventures just six months ago, with a new series on the way?
And Lis looked so young. Quite extraordinarily so. How was this possible?
But it was. I haven't seen anyone in fandom claim to have had knowledge of Sladen's illness. In a lovely tribute on his website, Tom remarks that he didn't even know she was ill – and they always seemed so fond of one another.
Of course I was saddened by Nick Courtney's death – everyone in the Doctor Who world felt his loss keenly; such a lovely man and a good friend of the programme and its wider world.
Lis too, but Nick was in his eighties and it was generally known that his health was failing. He was an old man. Lis was, in this day and age, not old – nor did we anticipate her death.
There is, perhaps, something more to it. Her recent television appearances and new-found fame meant Lis Laden, more than anyone, had a foot in both camps – classic series and new. She was as familiar to a generation of parents in the modern day as much as their children.
Both will feel the loss in different ways; adults finding a small part of their youth is gone and youngsters recognising that one of their current television heroes is gone.
To play the same character for a decade is rare these days. Not even any of the Doctors have been playing their own roles for as long as Lis Sladen played Sarah Jane Smith – a strong character brought to life by Lis Sladen, to the extent that the character, and and actress, were regulars on the most popular TV channel in the UK for over 35 years.
Goodbye Sarah. Goodbye Lis.
Showing RTD knocking one out for 90 minutes may have been slightly less indulgent than The Stolen Earth and the second parter, which is no doubt called the Impossible Everything Apocalypse or something (I checked, it's called Journey's End).
By this time the new series was feeling very tired, and a crying out for a new broom. But RTD had other ideas. One last big wank. Until The End of Time.
Cribbins - Brilliant as always, his webcam line is the highlight of the first episode
Julian Bleach - Davros is a real success in this. Lunatic, screaming mania – but done with real conviction
Jack - When not playing some sort of weary, ageless, lonely but stupidly horny demi-God, Jack is an enjoyable character played with evident relish by Barrowman.
Dalek invasion - A few of the invasion scenes were quite good, certainly considering how weak the New Series had previously done the Earth invasion stuff.
Donna - Tate surprised me by how good she was, when she's not being written as a complete shouty twat.
The Daleks - Totally neutered by now, the Daleks in the new series have been a case of diminishing returns. Every appearance seems to be bigger and more outlandish than before; with the result that the only feeling they inspire now is apathy.
Regeneration tease - Perhaps the fourth, fifth or sixth time someone was about to die in the series and then just... didn't. Talk about writing yourself into a corner; the worst thing was no-one in their right mind believed it in the first place. Also sets up the ridiculous two Doctors, then three Doctors, then Donna dies (but doesn't) drivel later on.
The gates of Elysium...the Nightmare Child... - Oh do fuck off. All of this drivel is genuinely hard to listen to, especially when it's always delivered with Tennant's tight-lipped spittle-drenched shouting.
Rose - Rose's long-suspected but little-desired return is a predictably tedious, self-absorbed affair, but it's really not helped by Piper's quite weird, lisping appearance.
Sarah-Jane - Seems out-of-place and quite annoying here. Lis Sladen's frightened acting is just awful. Only her very brief dialogue with Davros makes any sense.
Harriet Jones - Who gives a fuck?
Close up of man saying 'Ladies and gentlemen, we are at war - Utter shit
Dalek Caan - Embarrassing
Martha - Pains me to say as it, as she's rarely helped by scripts, but Freema has one of her weaker episodes, and it shows her up alongside the others.
Jackie - I'd've preferred it if Bruno Langley had come back.
Murray Gold - terrible, terrible, terrible
An absolute car crash. It's totally incoherent; at no stage does it make even the remotest sense; fan-wank is piled on in such proportions that even fan-fic authors would baulk.
There's some kind of weird 'you know it's wrong' pleasure to seeing such a hodge-podge play out on screen, with everything imaginable thrown at the wall. Jelly, cream, chocolate, jam, vodka, Red Bull and heroin – but mainly cheese.
A very few crumbs stick, but if this wasn't evidence that RTD had run out of juice by now, I don't know what was.
• Caves and Twins? What are you dribbling on about?
Go here: Caves and Twins