I was genuinely saddened when I saw this morning that Elisabeth Sladen had passed away. She played Sarah Jane Smith, one of the Doctor's companions, in Dr Who for three and a half seasons.
Female Doctor's companions tended to be the girl who had to be rescued. Not Sarah Jane. There was no putting her in a box and expecting her to stay put. She may have done a fair bit of screaming - I probably would have done the same in some of the situations she ended up in - but then she got herself organised and did what had to be done. This often involved doing exactly what she was told not to by the many men around her. Sometimes she was right, sometimes wrong but it was always her choice. What a role model for a young woman in the heady early days of feminism.
Much of this character development comes down to the actors. They may be given the lines but how they deliver them is what actually makes the character come alive. Elisabeth Sladen made Sarah Jane Smith into a vibrant, real person. That's quite an achievement.