Former 'Doctor Who' companion Caroline John dies

Caroline John may not have been the most popular Doctor Who companion, but the template in which she created help the Doctor’s companions become less screaming females in distress as it progressed during its original run. John, who was 71, died on June 5th; however word of her passing was not released to the press by her family until after her funeral on June 20. Cause of death was not released. Caroline John joined Doctor Who for its seventh season, becoming the newly regenerated Third Doctor’s first companion in 1970. As Elizabeth Shaw she was unlike many of the preceding female companions of the Doctor, as Shaw was a doctor of science and understood much of the Time Lords technobabble. Sadly, it was that strength that became the characters downfall –the conceit of the companions was to ask the Doctor a lot of questions. But because Shaw and the Doctor were talking on equal levels, he seemed to respect her, which for most of the early series seemed out of place –the Doctor had a tendency to be patronizing to them. Producer Barry Letts (who came on after the first serial of season seven) recognized this, and her contract was not renewed for season 8. Still, when the late Elizabeth Sladen joined Doctor Who in Pertwee’s last season as Sarah Jane Smith, much of the DNA that John brought to Elizabeth Shaw was sewed into Sarah Jane, including her independence and intelligence. So while Sladen brought a breath of fresh air to the companions, their beginnings started with Caroline John. Like many former companions, she never fully left Doctor Who. She returned to the role in 1983’s The Five Doctors and appeared in the Dimensions in Time charity special, as well as various Big Finish audio productions and 4 little known direct-to-video series called P.R.O.B.E., which was created by Mark Gatiss in the mid 1990′s. Watching that show on Youtube, and you can possibly see the early beginnings of Torchwood. The actress was married to Geoffrey Beevers, who many fans know helped resurrect The Master back in 1981 serial, The Keeper of Traken.

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