It was announced this morning that Mary Tamm, who portrayed the first Romana alongside Tom Baker in Doctor Who, has died after a long battle against cancer at the age of 62.
Mary Tamm was born in Bradford 1950, the daughter of Estonian refugees, and became a graduate and associate member of R.A.D.A. From early beginnings acting on stage with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre alongside future British acting greats Derek Jacobi, Ronnie Barker and Joan Simms in 1971, she soon moved to London where she would go onto work in some of the major television and films of the time.
Appearing in such films as the 1973 film The Odessa File with Jon Voight and her rep stable mate Derek Jacobi and later in the film version of the smash television comedy The Likely Lads alongside James Bolam and Rodney Bewes, it wasn’t long before she caught the eye of the team behind Television favourite Doctor Who. Although initially reluctant to take on the role of Romana as she thought the companion role was nothing more than “a damsel in distress” she came on board for the long running serial arc of The Key To Time.
Mary Tamm would ultimately go on to only do one series in Doctor Who, her character regenerated as Lalla Ward took over the role as Romana. She retained a loyal following whenever she appeared at conventions and would sparkle as she spoke to fans about her time but always with style and grace as she knew it was the fans that make or break a character.
After being let go by then producer Jonathon Nathan-Turner she had leading roles in the B.B.C. drama The Treachery Game and its sequel The Assassination Run. From there Miss Tamm had roles in the popular Channel 4 soap Brookside and a brief one week appearance in Eastenders.
Her agent of 22 years, Mr Langford, said, “She had a great zest for life. She was a fantastic actress-she played stage parts of such range, parts that would take your breath away. She could play any role, and do so wonderfully.”
To those she met, she will be remembered with great affection, A marvellous woman who will be very sadly missed.
Mary Tamm: Born March 22nd 1950 in Bradford. Died July 26th 2012.
Ian D. Hall