It was announced today that the actress Caroline John had died on June 5th, aged 71. She was best known for her role as Liz Shaw in the ground-breaking seventh season of Doctor Who (January to June 1970). Tributes have been led by current show-runner, Steven Moffat.
John was born in York in 1940, and after training at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, she worked in theatre. She toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, before landing the part of Cambridge scientist, Dr Elizabeth Shaw.
Liz was recruited to the newly created UNIT team as their scientific advisor, and John joined the programme along with a brand new leading actor – Jon Pertwee as the Doctor. John was cast by outgoing producer, Peter Bryant, and Liz was conceived as a an interlectual equal to the Time Lord. Ironically, it soon became apparent to the show’s new production team, helmed by Barry Letts, that this type of companion was actually unsuitable, and Liz Shaw was written out after just one series.
John starred in the first four, Third Doctor stories: Spearhead from Space, The Silurians, The Ambassadors of Death, and Inferno. She reprised the character on TV in The Five Doctors (1983), and Dimensions in Time (1993), then later for Big Finish’s audio adventures (from 2007). Liz Shaw also featured in the Mark Gatiss scripted P.R.O.B.E. video spin-off series (1994-96).
John was married to Doctor Who co-star, Geoffrey Beevers, who first played the Master in The Keeper of Traken. They starred together in A Very British Coup (1988), and Poirot (1989). They had three children. John’s funeral was held in London this week.