British Actress Mary Tamm, best known for her role as Romana in Doctor Who, has died.

Actress Mary Tamm, who played Time Lady Romana alongside Tom Baker’s Doctor Who in The Key to Time, has died aged 62. She had been suffering from cancer. Her husband Marcus Ringrose and two children survive her.

Tamm – born March 1950 – was from Bradford, Yorkshire, and was the daughter of Estonian refugees. Her agent Barry Langford, in a release following her death, said 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.” She was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and said in an interview reprinted on her website that this helped her approach the role “intelligently.” Other companions had been hamstrung by their lack of experience, which left them at risk of typecasting. “I was the first companion to have an established career behind her,” Tamm said, “apart from Louise [Jameson, who played barbarian Leela], who also trained at RADA; some people say we stand out for this reason.”

Tamm only played Romana – aka Romanadvoratrelundar – for one season. She’d been reluctant initially to take the role at all, because she was worried she’d be a damsel in distress type who only existed in the narrative to be second fiddle to the Doctor. “It was way before the time of strong female screen characters,” Tamm said, “so it was difficult to break new ground there.” Though her character did start off as the Doctor’s equal, it soon became clear that damsel in distress was the role the producers preferred she’d play. “I decided to leave because the part was not up to what had been promised, and there was nowhere left to go with character.”

According to her website, for personal reasons she particularly favoured The Eve Appeal, a gynaecological cancer research fund.

Sources: Guardian, Official Tamm Website

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