I wanted to take a moment to write about Mary Tamm, who passed away this past week.
For those of you who don’t know who Mary Tamm was, she was a British actor, most famous for her role as the first Romana (Romanadvoratrelundar), on Doctor Who, during it’s 16th season back in 1978, the “Key to Time” season.
When I discovered Doctor Who, back in 1983, it was on NJ public TV, where they air Doctor Who in omnibus features on Saturday Night. The first episode I ever saw was Robots of Death, which of course featured Tom Baker, alongside Louise Jameson as Leela, but Romana was the first companion that I met, along with the Doctor. I didn’t know what to expect, but as a 12 year old, I can say she had a striking affect on me, this ice goddess who was smart as the Doctor, and was not above letting him know it.
She complete flipped what the companion was for me. Of course I didn’t know that what I was seeing was the ultimate development of the companion role that had begun 8 seasons earlier with Caroline John(Professor Liz Shaw), and was followed by Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) and the aforementioned Jameson. Her character was serious minded, and more than a match for the Doctor, and when you consider the fact the she was opposite Tom Baker at the height of his
She was incredibly talented, graceful, and eloquent actress. I was lucky to have met her once at a Doctor Who convention in the mid 1980’s. Sadly I have no pictures, or anything from the encounter. I wish I kept better track of my mementos.
Mary Tamm only did one season of the show, but her character, a Time Lady, the same race as the Doctor, regenerated (played for 2 more years by Lalla Ward), and the character of Romana is still very popular with fans until this day, and modern companions owe a lot to Ms. Tamm, who showed it was ok for a companion to be as smart as the Doctor.
Before her passing, Tamm recorded a series of 7 audio plays along side of Tom Baker for the second series of Doctor Who audio plays to feature the fourth Doctor for Big Finish. They are available for pre-order now, and will be released beginning in 2013.
Tamm’s passing is sadly the latest in a line of Doctor Who cast member to pass away which began last winter with Nicholas Courtney (The Brigader) and Elisabeth Sladen, who passed away just as Doctor Who’s 6th series was premiering. Earlier this year, Caroline John also passed away.
Mary Tamm is survived by her husband of 34 years, Marcus Ringrose, her daughter Lauren and grandson Max.