Goodbye, Mary Tamm, the Noblest Romana of them All


2012, it seems, has a vendetta out for the actresses who played the most beloved Doctor Who companions of yesteryear. In the space of one year, fans have waved goodbye to Elizabeth Sladen, Caroline John, and now, heartbreakingly, Mary Tamm.

Oh, Romana. The only time the Doctor took one of his own kind on board, and she not only equalled him, but eventually defeated him in the saving-the-universe stakes. Mary Tamm brought us the first regeneration of Romana, fully regal and bitingly sarcastic, a Timelady arriving on the TARDIS by way of Downton Abbey.

Her first scene on the show remains one of the most perfect in the show's history, displaying the wit, the vibrance and excitement of finally having a companion who doesn't worship the Doctor, but actually kind of thinks he's a loser at first. At the end of the day, has anyone else called him on the fact that he's basically a dropout vagabond thief?

Mary Tamm left the show because the character changed; she became more of a typical "excellent question, doctor" companion by the time she left. But strangely enough, Lalla Ward chose to reference Tamm's performance in Romana II, and the writers returned Romana to what she was always meant to be; better than the Doctor. We owe Mary Tamm for providing a template that no companion has matched since. And it's worth noting that the Romana years (both Romanas) garnered the highest ratings in the show's history.

(skip to 5:18 for Romana's first appearance, where even K9 can't resist a lengthy ogle. Is there such a thing as the tyranny of the robot gaze?)

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