The ‘Doctor Who’ universe lost another beloved companion when it was announced that Mary Tamm has lost her fight against cancer and died today. The BBC and her agent confirmed her passing earlier this morning.
Tamm is known by Whovians as the actress who played the original version of Romanadvoratrelundar (Romana for short), the Time Lady who accompanied the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) in season 16 of the classic series. She was a very different type of companion in that not only was she a Time Lady from Gallifrey, but she was also highly intelligent, elegant, and gave an air of superiority, and many times towards the Doctor!
She first appeared in the episode ‘The Ribos Operation’ in 1978 and accompanied the Doctor through ‘The Key To Time’ story arc where she and the Doctor were assigned by the White Guardian to track down the six segments of the key which, when put together, would reset the equilibrium of the universe.
Initially Tamm had been reluctant to take the part thinking she would be just another “damsel in distress,” but when she read the script and realized that Romana would be more of a substantial character, she agreed to take the role. She reportedly decided not to reprise her character after playing her for only 1 season as the writers had diminished the role by having her less independent and more “damsel in distress” like.
Upon hearing of tragic news of Tamm’s passing, many of those involved in the world of ‘Doctor Who’ have expressed their condolences and tributes:
Tom Baker: “She was a darling companion and wonderfully witty and kind. I’m so sorry to hear of her death.”
Colin Baker (5th Doctor): “Shell-shocked to hear Mary is gone. A funny, caring, talented, lovely and down to earth lady. My heart goes out to Marcus and Lauren.”
Nicola Bryant (Peri): “Just heard the terrible news that Mary Tamm has died. Completely shocked. Very sad. Thoughts go to Marcus & Lauren. RIP Mary.”
Paul Cornell (writer of ‘Doctor Who’ novels and episodes): “She was always great fun on screen, and those who knew her say that was true off screen too.”
Steven Moffat: “I remember Mary Tamm’s first appearance so vividly – the ice Queen on the TARDIS. The Time Lady who thought the Doctor was HER companion. Perfectly brought to life by Mary, with such style and wit, you always thought she could have kicked the Doctor out of the time machine and got on with the adventure herself. A generation of little girls threw away the idea of being an assistant, and decided to fly the TARDIS for themselves.”
Tamm’s passing follows a month after the loss of Caroline John who played Liz Shaw, companion of the 3rd Doctor played by Jon Pertwee. Last year, Whovians mourned the losses of Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) and Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith).
It’s hard to express the sadness to hear about any companion’s passing especially when it involves the battle against cancer. While Tamm only spent a few months with the Doctor in the TARDIS, she left an impact on the fans and the show and will always remain immortal in their hearts.
We here at ScienceFiction.com send our heartfelt condolences to the Tamm family during this time of grief.