...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 4191: The New Adventures and the Last Adventure


We're very sad to hear of the passing of Ms Caroline John, who starred as Dr Elizabeth "Liz" Shaw opposite Mr Jon Twerpee in the seventh season of Doctor Who and was one of the kindest, funniest, most selfless people we've ever met.

Although she only did one season, it's memorably one of the best in the entire run of Doctor Who, featuring at least two classic stories, and in large part that's because Carrie's role as the Cambridge scientist who was the Doctor's equal led to grown-up stories, broader and deeper than the series had ever been before.

"...and the Silurians" is a morality play with reptiles, that famously taught Daddy Alex the lesson that people are people even if they are green rubber people. While "Inferno" is the classic evil doppleganger parallel universe with a twist. Not only is it only time that present day Earth is actually destroyed, but is also spawned Sir Nicholas Courtney's famous, infamous, much-imitated "eye-patch" anecdote. For which convention holders everywhere were eternally grateful.

Add to that an opening in "Spearhead from Space" that was good enough to be reworked by Russell Davies thirty-five years later to relaunch the series on the Twenty-First Century, and the much loved story "Ambassadors of Death" shortly to be released on DVD restored to colour for the first time since the Seventies.

Carrie, as Liz, holds a central plot strand in each of these stories, equally at home building the latest gizmo for the Doctor, tackling the villains or putting down the Brigadier with her dry wit. And she gets to have different hair in every story.

Carrie returned to the role of Liz Shaw for a cameo in "The Five Doctors" and then again in the Nineties in a trilogy of adventures for P.R.o.Be. (the "Preternatural Research Bureau") penned by pre-Who Mark Gatis, and then to Big Finish for a number of Companion Chronicles not to mention an astonishing turn as Madam Salvadori (opposite her real-life husband Geoffrey Beavers) in "Dust Breeding". She also contributed generously of her time to the BBC DVDs, and we cannot recommend strongly enough the commentary on "Spearhead..." where she and Nick Courtney are clearly having far too good a time.

She used to love to tell the story of how she got the job on Doctor Who. Having had great success at the Royal Shakespeare Company, she was still having difficulty in breaking into television. So she hired a photographer and had a range of "bikini" shots taken, which she then circulated at the BBC. They passed across Barry Letts desk and the rest, as they say, is history.

It's the sort of thing Liz Shaw would have done.

UPDATE: more remembrance from Auntie Jennie.

Meanwhile, I was GOING to use today's diary to plug Daddy Alex and Daddy Richard's new adventure with the New Adventures.

Just like season seven, these were a more adult brand of Doctor Who, pitched as a continuation of the TV show, and featuring a strong female lead with a dry wit and top academic credentials (admittedly faked). And Silurians!

So we'd like to invite you to join...

"Time's Champions"

...for a romp through some of the Doctors most thrilling, innovative and angst-ridden adventures yet.

1 comment:

Jennie Rigg said...

I loved her and Louise Jameson and Katy Manning talking about WhoFeminism on the Face of Evil DVD.