Despite appearing in just six episodes of Doctor Who – as the Time Lady Romana during Tom Baker’s tenure in the title role – it left a stamp on Mary Tamm’s career that proved almost impossible to cast off.
By the time she joined the then Saturday evening fixture in 1978, she had enjoyed a wide-ranging theatre career, graduating from RADA in 1971 to join Birmingham Repertory where she appeared with Derek Jacobi in Pinter’s The Lover and with Ronnie Barker in Good Time Johnny, a musical version of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
She moved to London the following year to appear in the rock musical Mother Earth at the Roundhouse, quickly being largely seduced away from the stage (Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant at the New End Theatre in 1976 aside) and into television and, less frequently, film.
Later theatre roles included playing opposite Gordon Jackson in the Agatha Christie mystery Cards on the Table (Vaudeville Theatre, 1981), a quartet of literary characters in Why is Here There Everywhere Now (Riverside Studios, 1991), a national tour of Abigail’s Party with the Chichester Festival (1999), a national tour of Eric Chappell’s Mixed Feelings (2004), and a tour of the Far East as Amanda in Private Lives (2006).
Her small-screen breakthrough came in 1973 in the BBC thriller about a Britain ruled by a fascist dictatorship, The Donati Conspiracy, and she made her film debut in The Odessa File the following year. Before landing the coveted role on Doctor Who (one she was initially reluctant to take and which she left after just one season), she appeared in The Inheritors, Public Eye, A Raging Calm, The Likely Lads, Return of the Saint and as a daughter-in-law to Coronation Street’s Stan and Hilda Ogden.
Following her spell in the Tardis, she was a co-lead with Ian Lavender in the comedy The Hello Goodbye Man (1984) and a regular in Brookside (1993-95), Paradise Heights (2002) and, most recently, EastEnders (2009). Guest appearances included Bergerac, Casualty, Heartbeat, Jonathan Creek and Wire in the Blood.
She published the first volume of her autobiography, First Generation, in 2009 and was working on a second at the time of her death.
Born to Estonian refugee parents in Bradford on March 22, 1950, Mary Tamm died, aged 62, from cancer on July 26, and is survived by her daughter. Her husband of 34 years, stockbroker Marcus Ringrose, died just hours after reading the eulogy at her funeral.