The last two years have been fatal for Doctor Who actors from the Jon Pertwee era of the show. First Nicholas Courtney, then Elisabeth Sladen. Now comes word that actress Caroline John died earlier this month at the age of 71.
Unlike Courtney or Sladen, I think few people will argue that Caroline John’s no-nonsense scientist Liz Shaw was the beating heart of the show. She was a case of the producers trying to have it both ways by portraying a highly competent researcher who nonetheless wound up wearing miniskirts and fetching coffee for the Doctor.
She was unceremoniously dumped after a single season in favor of Katy Manning’s Jo Grant, whose miniskirt-wearing and coffee-fetching were untainted by book learning and were therefore no challenge to Jon Pertwee. Still, Liz Shaw’s single season–which included such classic stories as “Spearhead from Space” and “Inferno”–was one of the best of the original show’s run, and Caroline John managed to make a lingering impression despite her short time.