Thursday, 21 June 2012

Farewell Liz Shaw, as we say goodbye to Caroline John

We are sorry to announce that the actress Caroline John who played companion Liz Shaw in Jon Pertwee's debut season has passed away.  The official news came via a tweet from the BBC on the Doctor Who Twitter feed.

She left us on the 5th June, but the news was undisclosed by the family until after the funeral took place yesterday in south-west London; the cause of death is unknown at the moment.

Born in York in 1940, Caroline John trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.  She then worked in the theatre, touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

In 1969, she won the part of scientist and companion Doctor Elizabeth Shaw opposite Jon Pertwee as the Doctor who had taken over the role since Patrick Troughton's departure.  Her character of Liz Shaw appeared as a regular for one season in 1970, but she left when Barry Lett's wanted to replace her with a younger character.  She was also pregnant at the time.  She played two roles in the final story of that year, Inferno, the other character being Shaw's alternative-universe counterpart, Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw.

The Doctor Who Bar will be having a special tribute viewing of Inferno tonight in her memory, as we bid farewell to her with her final performance from the Jon Pertwee era.  The tribute session will open at 7.30pm, pressing play on our DVD's at 8pm.

Caroline returned to the series in 1983 for the Twentieth Anniversary special The Five Doctors, in which she played a ghost version of Liz Shaw. She reprised her starring role of  Liz Shaw for the 1993 BBC Children In Need special Dimensions In Time.

Married to actor Geoffrey Beevers who would later play an incarnation of the Doctor's arch enemy the Master, Caroline John appeared as Madame Salvadori with him in the Big Finish audio drama Dust Breeding, which was released back in 2001. She also portrayed Liz Shaw again for Big Finish in The Blue Tooth, released in 2007. In addition, she appeared as Shaw in the straight-to-video P.R.O.B.E. stories of the 1990s, which were written by Mark Gatiss and co-starred Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy.

Beevers and John also starred together in the Agatha Christie's Poirot episode Problem At Sea on ITV. In addition, the couple had roles in the Channel 4 adaptation of the political thriller A Very British Coup in 1988.

John's most recent notable appearance was in the film Love, Actually - the 2003 rom-com written and directed by Richard Curtis.

She will be very sadly missed by all Doctor Who fans who have affection for the Jon Pertwee era of the programme.

Farewell Caroline John, Rest In Peace.

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