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Mary Tamm (22 March 1950[1][2]-26 July 2012[2]; born in Bradford, West Yorkshire[2]) was a graduate and an associate member of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She was the first actress to play Romana in Doctor Who, appearing as the companion of Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor in season 16.


Tamm began her acting career on the stage with the Birmingham Repertory Company in 1971, moved to London in 1972 and appeared in the musical Mother Earth. Before her association with Doctor Who, Tamm acted in several motion pictures, most notably Sigi in The Odessa File (1974) and The Likely Lads (1976).

Tamm was not initially interested in playing a companion to the Doctor. She believed the role was merely that of the "damsel in distress." She changed her mind when assured by the producers and her agent that Romana would be different. While Romana was supposed to be a Time Lady, a member of the Doctor's own people and therefore as capable as the Doctor, the character eventually took on the characteristics that Tamm was concerned about; as a result of this, she left the programme after only one season.[3]

Other reasons for her departure were reported in media and in fandom, but this is the only reason mentioned in the 2007 Key to Time DVD box set. Contrary to popular belief, Tamm's pregnancy in 1979 was not infact a factor in the decision to leave the show or even to not appear for a regeneration. Tamm herself was vocal about the inaccurate nature of this belief, aptly pointing out that she did not give birth until November 1979[4] (which was long after scripting and filming for Destiny of the Daleks in January and June of 1979, respectively.[5])

On the 2007 Special Edition DVD release of the Key to Time, Tamm states she was willing to film a regeneration sequence, but was not asked to do so. This fits with Douglas Adams' own statements that there was never any intention of having Tamm reprise Romana for the start of Destiny of the Daleks.[6]

At any rate, the role of Romana was assumed by Lalla Ward, after Tamm had suggested her as a successor.[5]

Since then, Tamm acted in film and television, playing the characters of Penny Crosbie in the soap opera Brookside from 1993 to 1995, Yvonne Edwards in the BBC drama Paradise Heights (2002) and guest roles in many television programmes. In one of her films, the 1987 release Three Kinds of Heat, her character has the dubious distinction of being killed off by a villain portrayed by future Doctor Sylvester McCoy.

A publicity image of Tamm prior to her work on Doctor Who.

Tamm returned to the role of Romana in the second series of Gallifrey audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. In 2007 she added "interviewer" to her CV when she hosted and conducted interviews for a brief documentary entitled "Stones Free" for the DVD release of The Key to Time, in which she talked to historians about one of the locations for the serial, The Stones of Blood. The 2|entertain documentary There's Something About Mary... saw Tamm recount her time on the show and the means by which she acquired and later left the role.

She performed in the Big Finish production The Stealers from Saiph (released June 2009), again playing Romana, as well as reading the voice of the Fourth Doctor.

Also in 2009, she read an audio book version of the Time Hunter novella The Tunnel at the End of the Light.

In early 2010, 2|entertain announced a new series of DVD featurettes entitled Tomorrow's Times would be featured on upcoming DVD releases. The first chapter of this series was presented by Mary Tamm.[7]

In 2011 and 2012, Tamm recorded a series of Big Finish audios as Romana alongside Tom Baker. These were released from January to July 2013, posthumously.

Personal Life[]

She was married with one daughter and a grandson. On 14 September 2009, Tamm published her autobiography, First Generation — a reference to the fact she was in the first generation of her family born in the UK, as her parents hailed from the then-Soviet Union.[8] She also recorded an audio book version. First Generation was publicised as "volume 1" of her autobiography, suggesting a follow-up book in the future.


On 26 July 2012, Tamm died at the age of 62. The BBC confirmed that Tamm died in hospital following a battle against cancer. Tom Baker said in a statement: "She was a darling companion and wonderfully witty and kind. I'm so sorry to hear of her death."

Her husband, Marcus Ringrose, died a few hours after Mary's funeral.[9]



Doctor Who[]


The Fourth Doctor Adventures[]

The Companion Chronicles[]


Audiobook Readings[]

Time Hunter Novels[]




External links[]