Doctor Who News Former Doctor Who companion Liz Shaw, played by Caroline John

Published on June 21st, 2012 | by Christian Cawley

Caroline John 1940-2012

It is with sadness that we report the loss of Caroline John, best known to Doctor Who fans as companion Liz Shaw. As reported by the BBC’s Official Doctor Who Twitter feed, John passed away on June 5th.

As Liz Shaw, Caroline John appeared opposite Jon Pertwee during the Season 7 run of Spearhead from Space through to Inferno. Her character was written out for the following series, in which Katy Manning’s Jo Grant was brought into be a “less clever” companion – Dr Liz Shaw was considered “too clever”, supposedly losing the traditional companion-as-viewer dynamic that isn’t really missing at all throughout the action packed 1970 run of Doctor Who.

In addition to Doctor Who. John had a long-running career as a character actress, appearing in such shows as EastEnders, Wish Me Luck, Casualty, The Bill, Dangerfield, Doctors and Midsomer Murders, as well as appearing on stage. She was also one of the stars of the 1989 TV movie of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, adapted on that occasion by Nigel Kneale.

With a variety of Doctor Who spinoffs from Big Finish and BBV under her belt, Caroline John has remained close to the show over the years since her departure, appearing in The Five Doctors in 1983 and Dimensions in Time ten years later.

Caroline John’s most recent notable appearance was a non-speaking role in the Richard Curtis film Love, Actually where she played Sam’s (Human Nature‘s Thomas Sangster) grandmother.

She is survived by her husband, actor Geoffrey Beevers, and three children.

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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

10 Responses to Caroline John 1940-2012

  1. avatar TonyS says:

    What sad news. My prayers are with Geoffrey Beevers and the family.

  2. avatar James says:

    Sad news, she always came over as a great character on the Who documentaries as well as an able actress.

  3. avatar Bob James says:

    The Lady had a rare kind of class while being very much “one of us”. I had the exceptional occasion to meet her over the years at a Chicago based convention and she was wonderful. My prayers for Mr. Beevers and their families………

  4. avatar Gavin Noble says:

    Another sad loss to the Who family. I’ve just recently been watching all her stories as part of my ‘watching Who in transmission order’ mission and thought she was excellent in the series. That first season of stories were the high point of the Pertwee era in terms of quality consistently and Caroline was integral to that with her portrayal of LIz Shaw.

    My condolences to her family.

  5. avatar Caity says:

    What very sad news. She brought a touch of class to the role of companion and will be sadly missed. Condolences to Geoffrey Beevers and the rest of her family

  6. avatar Cheryl Claussen says:

    What sad news. She was one of the first brains and beauty heroines who helped shape a generation. We will all miss her.

  7. avatar Andrew says:

    So sad, another Who star gone to the great TARDIS in the sky. Loved Liz Shaw, always thought she was one of the best written and least cliched companions. Carry John was so consistent, every episode she put in a good performance. Season 7 is still one of the best. My thoughts are with Geoffrey Beevers and family. RIP Caroline John :(

    • We’re going to discuss Season 7 in next week’s podKast, partially as a tribute and partially because we enjoy it.

      • avatar Andrew says:

        It’s one of the few seasons in which even the weakest story (IMO The Ambassadors of Death) is good.

  8. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    Why Liz Shaw is not mentioned more often in people’s lists of ‘best companions ever’ puzzles me. Caroline was integral to the success and popularity of the show throughout the ‘regeneration’ of the 1970 season and was a formidable foil for Pertwee’s newly arrived Doctor. So sad she didn’t stay with the program for longer but thankfully she kept a close assossiation to the show and her character throughout her life and career and we all should be grateful for that. I would urge people to watch and treasure the P.R.O.B.E. series in which she reprised the role of Liz and the excellent Companion Chronicles from Big Finish in which she participated. I can’t belive we are saying goodbye to another Who legend again so soon!

    My heartfelt condolences to all the friends and family she leaves behind, particularily her husband and children.

    R.I.P. Miss Shaw

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