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What I hope I'm remembering correctly from the 1970s episodes of Doctor Who with Elisabeth Sladen is that as Sarah Jane, she had her own mind. She was no doormat and she was easily the most action-oriented person on the show, especially when The Doctor would be wavering and the Brigadier would be dithering and Harry would be... Harry. She was there, moving things forward.

And NO, she was NOT "in love" with The Doctor. Sarah Jane craved adventure, the open road, and in that, who better to travel with than The Doctor--? Sarah Jane wasn't about any of that romantic mumbo-jumbo, she was seeking truth, and justice--! She was exactly who was needed to bring the show a more modern sensibility, to show the world what women can do if given -- or even if they take -- half a chance! They can rule the world.