Published on January 5th, 2013 | by Philip Bates
How the Whoniverse Got Smaller in 2012
It’s sad to recall, but we lost some pretty special people from the world of Doctor Who in 2012. Companions, regular guest actors, alternate incarnations of the Doctor, behind the scenes artists and even guest personalities who weren’t recognised as actors all passed away.
Let’s take this opportunity to remember them once more.
Caroline John (1940-2012)
In June, we lost the Third Doctor’s first companion, Caroline John, who played the genius, Liz Shaw. Caroline first appeared in the pivotal Spearhead from Space (1970), which introduced the world to the Autons, and started a brave new era for the show.
Liz wasn’t your typical companion: she wasn’t a screamer, or an ankle-sprainer; she didn’t even ask questions for purely expositional reasons. Liz was clever: a scientist in her own right, but dragged into a world of living plastic, humanoid reptiles, and Earth-shattering drilling projects.
It was to prove her own undoing, as producer, Barry Letts, decided not to renew her contract, as it was felt Liz didn’t act as the audience’s representative. (John wanted to leave the series anyway, however, as she was expecting her first child.) But in his tribute to her, current-showrunner, Steven Moffat, said:
“The Doctor’s companions should never be his assistants – they’re the people who keep him on his toes and that’s what Caroline did.”
The last story of Season 7 to be released on DVD, The Ambassadors of Death (1970), featured a commentary with John, alongside the late Brigadier, Nicholas Courtney, and the recently-deceased Peter Halliday, while her final audio adventure, The Last Post, was released by Big Finish as a fitting tribute.
Though she only appeared in four stories (25 episodes), Caroline John left a lasting impression and she’ll be remembered as one of the best.
Peter Halliday (1924-2012)
Peter Halliday appeared in 23 episodes of Doctor Who, all in memorable roles: in 1968’s The Invasion, he played the security chief at International Electromatics, Packer, whose name was frequently banded around in threats to the Second Doctor and co.
Halliday soon returned to the Who studio – albeit it behind-the-scenes. He voiced the titular monsters in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970), and the aliens in The Ambassadors of Death, then once again opposite the Third Doctor in 1973’s Carnival of Monsters as Pletrac.
He then played the second Jagaroth and a guard during the Renaissance in the much-loved Fourth Doctor tale, City of Death (1979), before finally appearing as the blind vicar in Remembrance of the Daleks (1988), who hid the Hand of Omega for the First Doctor, then noted how his voice had changed when visited by the Seventh Doctor.
He appeared in many other films and TV shows, including A for Andromeda, the spoof, Casino Royale and Goodnight, Sweetheart, and his life was celebrated before his passing at an exhibition in Welshpool’s Powysland Museum, entitled, An Actor’s Life.
Mary Tamm (1950-2012)
The world of fandom was in shock when the passing of the original Romana, Mary Tamm, was announced in July.
Tamm was a regular at conventions and recently reprised her role as Romanadvoratrelundar, for Big Finish alongside the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. She originally starred as the loveable Time Lady in 1978’s The Key to Time season, in which she accompanied the Doctor on his search for the all-powerful cube in adventures like The Pirate Planet, The Stones of Blood and The Power of Kroll, having debuted in The Ribos Operation. She also played doppelgangers of Romana in The Androids of Tara, and her swansong came unexpectedly in the season finale, The Armageddon Factor.
Her husband, Marcus Ringrose, said:
“Mary was truly beautiful in every way. On set and offstage, her earthy northern humour and self-deprecating wit brightened every occasion. We will miss her every day.”
Also shockingly, shortly after Mary’s funeral, Mr. Ringrose too passed away – of a broken heart.
Mary Tamm will always be remembered as one of the finest companions to aid the Doctor in his adventures in time and space: the noblest Romana of them all.
Sir Patrick Moore (1923-2012)
Best-known as an astronomy legend and presenter of BBC staple, The Sky at Night, Sir Patrick Moore was obviously a fan of Doctor Who as he appeared recently in 2010’s The Eleventh Hour, which introduced the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory. Moore was one of a bank of experts called as a reaction to the Atraxi’s threat on the planet, and helped bring Prisoner Zero to justice by resetting the clocks all over the world to, simply, zero.
The Doctor and Patrick were, of course, friends, with the former telling Mrs. Angelo that he’ll give her his number. The Doctor may know about all of time and space – but Sir Patrick knew everything, as Sky at Night co-presenter, Dr. Chris Lintott, attested:
When [Sir Patrick Moore] speaks, people listen because they’re confident they will understand his explanations, whether he’s talking about the Moon or black holes.
We needed every ounce of that ability to deal with some of the questions that we had for the 700th programme, which ranged from enquires about alien life to questions about why Venus’ thick, sulphurous atmosphere is so different from that of Earth…
I think everyone involved – except possibly Patrick, who knows everything already – learned something along the way.
Philip Madoc (1934-2012)
Philip Madoc’s name will forever be associated with Doctor Who, having appeared in the show four memorable times, twice for Big Finish audios and once in the Peter Cushing-helmed film, Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150AD (1966).
He made his debut as Eelek in The Krotons (1968- 69), who tried to get himself in a position of power after the Doctor proved the titular enemies were manipulating their race, the Gonds. But if you thought he was villainous in that, his next appearance in 1969’s The War Games (the swansong for the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe) as the War Lord eclipsed it. Kidnapping humans and forcing them into war games, the War Lord conspired with the War Chief – before being brought to justice by the Doctor and the Time Lords.
He played Fenner in 1978-79’s The Power of Kroll, brought in last minute, but still turning in a brilliant performance.
Perhaps most notably, however, Philip starred in The Brain of Morbius (1976) as the Frankenstein-like Dr. Mehendri Solon. Solon, a loyalist of the supposedly-dead renegade Time Lord, Morbius, was deranged and clever, seeking the perfect head for his masterpiece… and finding the Doctor.
A documentary on his Who career, Philip Madoc – A Villain for all Seasons, appeared on the DVD release of The Power of Kroll, but he’s also notable for several other TV shows, including A Mind To Kill, The Life and Times of David Lloyd George, and Dad’s Army, in which he played a German U-Boat commander in the famous “Don’t tell him, Pike” scene.
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012)
Though Sir Richard Rodney Bennett provided the incidental music for the First Doctor serial, The Aztecs (1964), he had a long career involving film and TV scores and in concert. Earning him two Oscar nominations, his credits include: Murder on the Orient Express (1974); Far From The Madding Crowd (1967); Equus (1977); and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).
In 2011, prior to appearing at the BBC Proms, he told The Guardian:
People ask what was the first piece of music I wrote. There was no first piece. I just scribbled away and eventually a C major chord was there. I didn’t ever decide I was going to be a composer. It was like being tall. It’s what I was. It’s what I did.
Bennett created five opera works, most famously 1965’s The Mines of Sulphur, while his extensive jazz work earned him a CBE. Head of publishing at the Music Sales Group, Chris Butler, said:
Richard was the most complete musician of his generation – lavishly gifted as a composer, performer and entertainer in a multiplicity of styles and genres. He was a loyal friend to music, musicians and music publishing and we will remember him with great respect and affection.
He died on 24th December 2012.
Dinah Sheridan (1920-2012)
Dinah Sheridan died in November at the age of 92, but will be remembered by Doctor Who fans for her portrayal of Chancellor Flavia in the anniversary special, The Five Doctors (1983).
In the serial, four Doctors made their way to the Dark Tower, through the Death Zone on Gallifrey, in order to stop Lord President Borusa from gaining immortality from Rassilon. Sheridan’s character was granted authority by the High Council of Gallifrey to bestow upon the Doctor the title of Lord President after Borusa’s (sort of) demise – something which the Fifth Doctor ran away from!
Though her appearance in Doctor Who was relatively brief, she captured the imaginations of many, and was included in novels like Blood Harvest, Goth Opera and The Eight Doctors.
Outside of Doctor Who, Sheridan was most-notable for starring in The Railway Children (1970), 1953’s Genevieve and the 1980 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d. She last acted on-screen in Jonathon Creek in 1999.
Kenneth Kendall (1924-2012)
TV newsreader, Kenneth Kendall, unwittingly heralded in a tradition upheld by former-showrunner, Russell T. Davies, by reporting on the chaos caused by the titular enemy in 1966’s The War Machines.
The War Machines were used to take over London by the insane computer, WOTAN (that’s the Will-Operated Though ANalogue, obviously), and it was down to Kendall to warn Londoners off the streets.
Kendall left the BBC in 1981 to star alongside Anneka Rice in the gameshow, Treasure Hunt. Rice said:
He’s going to be remembered for [playing] an important part of television history, starting in radio and television, the first in vision newsreader and finishing up on a reality TV show, probably the first of its kind. Again another iconic television moment. I’m very pleased he’s got that recognition because he was an extraordinary person, very clever… My one sadness is that we did talk, jokingly – obviously – that we would
get together for one final Treasure Hunt, and sadly he’s missed that moment.
Kendall was the first celebrity to appear as himself in Doctor Who.
Geoffrey Hughes (1944-2012)
Hughes is best-known as the loveable, memorable Onslow in the brilliant Keeping Up Appearances, but Who fans will know him as Mr Popplewick in the conclusion of 1986’s Trial of a Time Lord, The Ultimate Foe. Popplewick was, essentially, an extension of the Valeyard, an evil manifestation of the Doctor.
Hughes was an incredibly popular actor, having appeared in Coronation Street, Heartbeat and The Royle Family, and tributes poured in when he passed away in July. Co-star, Helen Worth, who played Gail McIntyre in Coronation Street (and Mary Ashe in Colony in Space) said:
Geoff was a very dear friend for many years, and I’m very sad to hear the news of his passing. He was a master of gentle comedy and brought pleasure to so many people. He will be sadly missed.
A Corrie representative said:
We are very sad to hear of the death of Geoffrey Hughes. He created a legendary and iconic character in Eddie Yeats who will always be part of Coronation Street. Everyone connected with the programme send our sincerest condolences to his family.