Caroline John Dies

Doctor Who's Liz Shaw dead at 71.

23 JUN 2012
by Callum Smith


Caroline John


Another link to the Pertwee era was broken last week when Caroline John succumbed to cancer, aged 71.


Her condition had been kept private and a funeral was held in South-West London last Wednesday (20 June) before the news was announced via the BBC's Doctor Who Twitter feed.


John played Dr Elizabeth Shaw in season seven of Doctor Who in 1970, and returned for a spit and cough cameo in The Five Doctors in 1983. Her character was a move away from the screaming damsels of the Hartnell and Troughton eras and was part of an attempt to redefine Doctor Who for an older demographic.


"Caroline was a brilliant actress and in her role as Liz Shaw, a tremendous co-star for Jon Pertwee in his first year as the Doctor," wrote Steven Moffat on the official Doctor Who site. "She was not just a sidekick but a scientist in her own right and a match for the universe's number one know-all. 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. From everyone at the show, our thoughts go out to Caroline's family."


John was married to Geoffrey Beevers, famous to Who fan as the Master from The Keeper of Traken, and a regular of the Big Finish range of audios. John, herself, would return to the character of Liz Shaw in five Companion Chronicles for Big Finish, recording her final one, The Last Poet, in January.


Her other credits included roles alongside Tom Baker in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982), A Very British Coup (alongside Beevers) in 1988 and as Thomas Sangster's grandmother in 2003's Love Actually.


Though she was abruptly dropped due to Barry Letts' decision to jettison the character for someone more immediately indentifiable (and wasn't even given the dignity of a farewell scene), Liz Shaw was one of the great, underrated companions and Caroline John one of the great, underrated Who actresses. Just look at her dual turn as the regular Liz Shaw and as the jack-booted, fascist Liz in her final story Inferno, if you need any reminder.


RIP, Caroline John.


Click here for an interview with Caroline John. Go on, do it:




Caroline John Dies
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