Mary Tamm

Mary Tamm (22 March 1950 – 26 July 2012) was a British actress, known for her role as Romana in the BBC's science fiction television series Doctor Who,[1] starring opposite Tom Baker in the 1978–1979 story arc The Key to Time.

Mary Tamm
Born(1950-03-22)22 March 1950
Died26 July 2012(2012-07-26) (aged 62)
London, England
Years active1970–2012
Marcus Ringrose
(m. 1978; her death 2012)

Early lifeEdit

Tamm was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, to Estonian immigrant parents, and attended Bradford Girls' Grammar School.[2][3][4] She was a graduate and an associate member of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she studied from 1969–71.[5]

Acting careerEdit

Tamm began acting on the stage with the Birmingham Repertory Company in 1971.[6] She moved to London in 1972 and appeared in the musical Mother Earth. Her first TV role for the BBC was as Sally in The Donati Conspiracy shown in 1973.[7] This was followed by an episode of Warship in 1974.[8] In 1975, she featured in Muriel Spark's The Girls of Slender Means on BBC2.[9] Before her association with Doctor Who, Tamm acted in a few films, including Tales That Witness Madness (1973), The Odessa File (1974) and The Likely Lads (1976). In 1981, she took the part of Rhoda Dawes in Agatha Christie's Cards on the Table at London's Vaudeville Theatre.[10]

Tamm was not initially interested in playing a companion to the Doctor,[11] believing that the role was merely that of the "damsel in distress". She changed her mind when assured by the producers that Romana would be a member of the Doctor's own race and therefore as capable as he. Tamm left the programme after only one season because she felt that the character had reverted to the traditional assistant role and could not be developed further.[12] In a 2007 interview, she stated that she was willing to shoot a regeneration sequence to allow a smooth transition between her tenure and that of her eventual successor (Lalla Ward), but Tamm was not invited to do so.[13] One source states that pregnancy was the reason that she was not asked to return, which Tamm denied as a false rumour invented by producer John Nathan-Turner.[14][15][16]

After leaving the series, Tamm took leading roles in two BBC 1 dramas, The Treachery Game (1980) and its sequel The Assassination Run (1981) alongside Malcolm Stoddard. She subsequently appeared in Barry Letts' production of Jane Eyre on BBC1 in 1983, opposite Timothy Dalton.[17] She had a leading role in the sitcom The Hello, Goodbye Man opposite Ian Lavender in 1984 for BBC 2, around the same time as her guest appearance in Bergerac.[18] In the early 1990s she was a regular guest panellist on the ITV morning quiz show Crosswits.

Subsequently, Tamm played the characters of Penny Crosbie in the soap opera Brookside from 1993 to 1996,[19] and Yvonne Edwards in the BBC drama Paradise Heights (2002), as well as guest roles in many other television programmes, including Crime Traveller on BBC1, another time travel drama.[20] Tamm returned as Pandora in the second series of the Gallifrey audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. Her first such appearance was in Gallifrey: Lies (2005). She also appeared (as herself) in a special feature in the 2007 DVD boxed set release of The Key to Time, discussing her experiences on the programme. In August 2009, Tamm made a brief one-week appearance as Orlenda in EastEnders. Reprising the role of Romana, Tamm recorded seven new Doctor Who audio adventures for Big Finish Productions with Tom Baker shortly before her death,[21] which were released in 2013 as series 2 of the Fourth Doctor Adventures.[22]

Personal lifeEdit

Mary Tamm was married to Marcus Ringrose, an insurance executive, from 1978 until her death from cancer on 26 July 2012.[3][23] They had one daughter, Lauren, born November 1979.[14][15]

Her autobiography, entitled First Generation, was published in September 2009 by Fantom Films. Before her death she had been working on a second part of her autobiography, Second Generation, which was published in 2014.[24]


Year Title Roles Notes
Tales That Witness Madness Ginny (segment 4 "Luau")
The Odessa File Sigi
The Likely Lads Christina
Rampage Julie
Three Kinds of Heat Piou
Sorted School Mother
Melody's Her 2nd Name Alex
Amazons and Gladiators Zenobia
Doghouse Meg Nut


  1. ^ "Dr Who star returns to Bradford roots". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. 28 September 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  2. ^ "Doctor Who star Mary Tamm dies aged 62". The Guardian. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Obituary: Mary Tamm". Daily Telegraph. 26 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Interview with Mary Tamm". BBC Wiltshire. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  5. ^ Warwick, David (2012). "Mary Tamm (RADA Obituary)". The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Mary Tamm". 26 July 2012 – via
  7. ^ "The Donati Conspiracy – BBC One London – 14 September 1973 – BBC Genome". The Radio Times (2600): 67. 6 September 1973.
  8. ^ "Warship – BBC One London – 5 November 1974 – BBC Genome". The Radio Times (2660): 49. 31 October 1974.
  9. ^ "The Girls of Slender Means – BBC Two England – 3 May 1975 – BBC Genome". The Radio Times (2686): 21. May 1975.
  10. ^ Programme for Cards on the Table (Vaudeville Theatre): Theatreprint No 80, May 1982
  11. ^ "Mary Tamm – Doctor Who Interview Archive".
  12. ^ "". Archived from the original on 25 July 2008.
  13. ^ "There's Something About Mary", a DVD featurette on The Key to Time – Special Edition (BBC Video/2 Entertain, 2007).
  14. ^ a b "MaryTamm Official Website – Mary Tamm in Dr Who". Archived from the original on 6 January 2010.
  15. ^ a b McGuigan, Eddie (3 September 2009). "An interview with Mary Tamm". Outpost Skaro.
  16. ^ Rawson-Jones, Ben (19 October 2009). "Doctor Who Interview: Mary Tamm". Digital Spy. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Jane Eyre – BBC One London – 6 November 1983 – BBC Genome". The Radio Times (3130): 31. 3 November 1983.
  18. ^ "Bergerac – BBC One London – 28 January 1984 – BBC Genome". The Radio Times (3142): 22. 26 January 1984.
  19. ^ Flerlage, Elizabeth (24 September 2007). "The 5-minute Interview: Mary Tamm, Actress". The Independent. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  20. ^ "Crime Traveller – BBC One London – 8 March 1997 – BBC Genome". The Radio Times (3814): 68. 6 March 1997.
  21. ^ "Doctor Who – Fourth Doctor Adventures – Coming Soon". Big Finish Productions.
  22. ^ DOCTOR WHO – FOURTH DOCTOR ADVENTURES – RELEASED ITEMS. Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 17 January 2014
  23. ^ "Mary Tamm's widower 'died of a broken heart'". Daily Telegraph. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 March 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit