Friday, 12 September 2008

Where Are They Now? - No.8 Mary Tamm

Mary Tamm was born in Bradford , Yorkshire. (born 22 March 1950 in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire). Best known for being the first actress to play the character of Romana in Doctor Who opposite Tom Baker as the Doctor, from the 1978 - 1979 season known collectively as The Key To Time.

Her parents were refugees from Estonia, Mary's first language is Estonian, she didn't learn English until she started school.

She attended Bradford Girls Grammar school, and left with 6 O- levels and 3 A-levels.

She trained at Rada where she won the Emile Littler and Hannam Clarke awards.

Her first professional job was at the new Birmingham Repertory theatre where she spent nine months in the new building on Broad Street, working alongside Derek Jacobi, Joan Sims and Ronnie Barker.

TV work swiftly followed, notably, The Donati Conspiracy, with the late and great Richard Beckinsale, and Girls of Slender Means, with Miriam Margolyes and Patricia Hodge.

Her first feature film was Tales that Witness Madness, with Kim Novak, a cult classic, and The Odessa File, with Jon Voight, which pitched her career into the international arena.

Best remembered for Doctor Who, playing Romana, and Brookside, for her performance as Penny Crosbie, Mary's work has been varied and highly acclaimed .

Romanadvortrelundar (I)

Tamm was not initially interested in playing a companion to the Doctor as she believed that the role was merely that of the "damsel in distress". However, she changed her mind when assured by the producers that Romana would be different. Romana was supposed to be a Time Lady, a member of the Doctor's own people and therefore as capable as the Doctor. She left the programme after only one season due to her late discovered pregnancy. The role of Romana was assumed by Lalla Ward.

Recently she has starred in Diamond Geezer, with David Jason, A Class Act, Doctors, the BBC drama series Paradise Heights with Neil Morrisey and Ralf Little, and Jonathan Creek, with Steven Berkoff, as well as many guest appearances in several TV productions. See CV for more details.

Her recent stage work includes Amanda in Private Lives, Maria Halliwell in When We Are Married, Mari Hoff in Little Voice, and Beverley in Abigail's Party.

Mary is a member of the associates of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and for ten years worked on the committee, raising money for the student hardship fund. In 2005, she helped organise and appeared in the Rada centenary gala, which included past Rada luminaries such as Joan Collins, David Warner, Gemma Jones and many more.

She mentors students at the academy, and helps with their progress both throughout their training, and afterwards, when they enter the profession. She has attended workshops and forums at drama schools in London, and has taught improvisation and audition speech techniques,as well as directing student productions.

She married Marcus in 1978, and they have one daughter and one grandchild. Mary lives in London with her husband and two cats.

July 2008

Mary is on board a new British film by Jake West, called Doghouse , playing a conservative MP called Meg Nut!

Mary has been filming a two part "Wire in the Blood" - 'Unnatural Vices', which is part of 8 one hour episodes airing on ITV1, Friday, 12th September 2008, with Robson Green & Simone Lahbib. She plays the part of Jeanette Wise 'Elektra', a S&M Mistress.


Mary started the year with a return to her time on DR WHO. She provided the voiceover commentary for the Key To Time series, which was released on DVD on September 24th 2007.

She visited an old DW location, to present a documentary for the above, which was a fascinating experience, and filmed two in- vision interviews about her time on the programme. Other main and guest artistes who recorded material for the DVD include Tom Baker, John Leeson and many, many more.

All in all, the masses of extra material are a fascinating insight into the making of the series, with new and hitherto unspoken revelations coming to light ......even Mary was surprised!

Mary filmed an episode of Doctors for the BBC, playing a film star! This was out on August 20th, at 2.05 pm on BBC1. She did a cameo appearance in Diamond Geezer on Monday, April 9th at 9pm on ITV. Mary was in A Class Apart on March 23rd, BBC 1, at 8.30 pm. Also this year, she is devoting some time to penning her autobiography..

She flew to LA in January for a Dr Who convention, with old Rada chums David Warwick (below) and Louise Jameson, and attended panels with present cast members and writers of the new series. Mary was thrilled to make the acquaintance of one of her screen heroes- Mark Gattis, and to meet Noel Clarke.


Work this year included The panto, Dick Whittington, at Sutton -Mary had a great time prancing about the stage and being very wicked as Queen rat.

With Matthew Harper as Dick .

Next, she did a film with Malcolm Tierney, of Braveheart fame, called Come Dancing, playing the dubious owner of a lap dancing club!

She then filmed an episode of Rose and Maloney, playing another baddie, Danuta Richmond, opposite Sarah Lancashire.

The year so far also involved organising the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art's centenary gala. This event was staged on April 17th, and Mary appeared as the compere, introducing performers including Joan Collins, David Warner, Gemma Jones and many more. She also read out tributes to the founder,Henry Beerbohm Tree, and did sketches with fellow presenter Mike Simpkins.

A Sci fi event followed at Milton Keynes, where Mary was thrilled to meet the cast of Lord of the Rings, and two of her favourite actors, Paul McGann and Alan Cummings, as well as catching up with fellow Who thesps, always a pleasure .


Mary started the year with rehearsals for Mixed Feelings, by Eric Chappell, a comedy also starring Paul Nicholas. The play went on a very successful national tour. Mary played the character of Jan, a woman who had to cope with her husband's sex change. The serious undertones of the part provided an enjoyable challenge. (More info on reviews page)

Richmond Theatre London


Mixed Feelings is an intriguing new play by Eric Chappell. The two halves head in very different directions and the audience is kept guessing throughout. Despite the fact that it handles the sensitive subject of a man’s re-entry into society after a sex change operation, there are no clich├ęs and no awkward moments. The entire play revolves around Vernon, superbly played by Paul Nicholas. The first half sees him at home, just after his return to his wife Jan, played by Mary Tamm, and daughter Zoe, in British suburbia. He has been AWOL in Casablanca for six months and each person with whom he has contact has a different theory about his disappearance. His wife is convinced he had an affair, his best friend thinks that he was having a mid-life crisis and his boss believes that he suffered a nervous breakdown. The situations in which the truth is revealed to each person are witty and hilarious. Vernon spends the second half dressed in drag, which enables him to raise easy laughs but also some great one-liners. The set by Michael Holt is very good - the entire play takes place in the front room of Vernon and Jans suburban semi, which gives it the feeling of a television sitcom. Hailing from the sitcom Just Good Friends Paul Nicholas is perfectly at home in this environment. His wife is a great counterbalance and she is played by Mary Tamm as a straight talking, no-nonsense women, who appears to take the revelations in her stride. Her poise and authority are key to ensuring that the play does not turn into a farce. The entire cast is in fact excellent, making the most of the imaginative and well-paced script and well directed by Jeremy Meadows. John Benfield plays Vernons best friend Eddie with energy, whilst Alan Granvilles interpretation of Fletcher, Vernon’s prejudiced, racist, sexist boss, is sublime. Mixed Feelings is thought provoking and a joy to watch. It begs the question, what would you do if a key person in your life changed not just their appearance, but everything about themselves, including hobbies, partner, and their sex?

She also appeared at Dr Who conventions and signings, and recorded an audio CD for Big Finish reprising her character of a very changed Romana!

A highlight of this busy year was appearing with Paul Nicholas in the wonderful Simon Gray play,Stage Struck, at Windsor. The cast also included old chum Ray Lonnen. Mary also worked with with Paul the previous year in Mixed Feelings, a new Eric Chappell comedy. More of that later.......

After this, Mary travelled up to Birmingham to record a wonderful part in BBC's Doctors, playing a glamorous ex model, hailed as the Jean Shrimpton of the Midlands! A meaty role portraying an older woman with a secret young lover. Naughty naughty!

The year also included work for Big Finish, recording an audio CD for the Gallifrey series. Mary reprised her role as Romana, which was an interesting experience, and highly enjoyable. Visit for more info.

MARY TAMM -Credits

TELEVISION CREDITS - Series leads include:

PARADISE HEIGHTS / Yvonne Edwards/ A Pearce / D Innes Edwards
HEADLESS / Portia Loomis/ T McHale / M Hutchison Channel 4

BROOKSIDE / Penny Crosbie /Various (15 months) Channel 4

THE ASSASSINATION RUN / Jill Frazer /Ken Hannam }

THE TREACHERY GAME / Jill Frazer/ Ken Hannam }

THE HELLO GOODBYE MAN / Jennifer/ Alan J.W. Bell }
GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS / Selina/ Moira Armstrong }

THE DONATI CONSPIRACY / Sally Ross /Vere Lorimar }

DOCTOR WHO / Romana /Various (1 year)

A RAGING CALM / Julie Warner / June Howson / Gerry Mill Granada

TELEVISION CREDITS - Guest appearances include:

WIRE IN THE BLOOD/ Elektra /Peter Hoar /Coastal Productions

DOCTORS / Jemma Forrester / Neil Adams / BBC

DIAMOND GEEZER II / Maureen Charlton /Paul Harrison Yorkshire / ITV

A CLASS APART / Mrs. Fills /Nick Hurran Paloma / BBC TV

ROSE AND MALONEY / Danuta Richmond/ Metin Huseyin Company Pictures

HOLBY CITY / Fliss Wright/ Neil Adams )

DOCTORS / Sylvia Crawford /Jason Millward )

TWISTED TALES - FLAT FOUR / Mrs. Templeman /Andy Goddard )

JONATHAN CREEK – 2 hour special / Vivien Brody /Sandy Johnson )

THE PRACTICE / Lynn Baker /Adrian Bean }

CRIME TRAVELLER / Mary Chandler/ Rick Stroud }

CASUALTY / Virginia Petrie /Sue Butterworth }
BERGERAC / Louise West /Laurence Moody }

NOT THE NINE O'CLOCK NEWS / Sketches /John Lloyd }

JANE EYRE / Blanche Ingram /Julian Aymes }

THE SCARLET WOMAN / Laura /Bill Anderson }

CORONATION STREET / Diana Black /Eugene Ferguson Granada

THE BILL / Moira Sutherland/ Ged Maguire Thames

LOVED BY YOU / Diane Caldwell / Richard Boden )

UP RISING / Maddie Matt Lipsey ) Carlton

LONDON BRIDGE / Jan Bishop /Roberto Bangura )

HEARTBEAT / Marilyn/ Ken Horn Yorkshire

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD The Abbess/ Terry Marcel Warner Brothers TV

THE NEW PROFESSIONALS / Maggie Llewelyn /David Wickes Sky / Wickes TV

PERFECT SOUNDRELS / Mary Cooper /John Gorrie TVS

WORLDS BEYOND / Susan Wentworth /Adrian Cooper Channel 4

QUEST FOR LOVE / The Women/ Philip Saville Channel 4

POIROT / Louise Farley /Ed Bennett LWT

ANIMAL ARK / Antonia Kent /Dirk Campbell Zenith

THE INHERITORS / Tessa/ Ian McNaughton HTV

ONLY WHEN I LAUGH / Leonora /Vernon Lawrence Yorkshire

CORONATION STREET / Pauline / Roland Joffe Granada


THE ODESSA FILE / Sigi / Ronald Neame Columbia

COME DANCING / The Madam/ Mark Conn Dark Horse Pictures

AMAZONS AND GLADIATORS / Queen Zenobia/ Zachary Weintraub )

RAMPAGE / Julie / Manik Sandrasagra ) Paramount

WITNESS MADNESS / Ginny / Freddie Francis )

SORTED / Ann Foster /Alex Jovy Jovy Junior Films

MELODY IS HER SECOND NAME / Alex/ Jack Rochon U4ME Films

THE DARKENING / Maria Gabriel /Steven Hilliker Electronic Arts

PRESSING ENGAGEMENT / Mai Wells / Jon Weinbren
Yorkshire Films

THREE KINDS OF HEAT / Caroline Pyn /Leslie Stevens ABC

THE LIKELY LADS / Chris / Michael Tuckner EMI

THE DOUBT / Anne / Photis Constantindes EMI


PRIVATE LIVES / Amanda /David Warwick Far-Eastern tour

STAGE STRUCK / Anne /Mark Piper )

I'LL BE BACK BEFORE MIDNIGHT / Laura /Mark Piper ) Theatre Royal, Windsor

PRESENT LAUGHTER / Joanna /Tom Conti )

AGIBAILS PARTY / Beverley /Ian Dickens Chichester Festival Theatre

THE MAINTENANCE MAN / Diana /June Howson The Mill, Sonning

WHY IS HERE THERE? / Miss Julie, Hedda Gabler/ Hilary Westlake Lumiere & Son/Riverside Studios

SWIMMING POOLS AT WAR / Cat /Bob Gillespie Offstage Downstairs

CARDS ON THE TABLE / Rhoda Dawes/ Peter Dews Vaudeville, London

BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT / Karin /Robert Walker New End, Hampstead

MOTHER EARTH / Various /Tony Palmer Roundhouse, London

THE LOVER / Sarah / Peter Dews Birmingham Rep

ACTION REPLAY / Helen/ Peter Farago Birmingham Rep

OEDIPUS / chorus Peter Dews Birmingham Rep

National tours:

MIXED FEELINGS / Jan /Jeremy Meadow National tour

DEAD FUNNY / Eleanor /Bruce James National tour

WHEN WE ARE MARRIED / Maria Helliwell /Ian Dickens National tour

POPCORN / Farrah Delamitri /Bruce James National tour

THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE / Mari Hoff/ Bruce James National tour

TABLE MANNERS and LIVING TOGETHER / Ruth /Ian Dickens National tour

GOOD MORNING, BILL / Dr. Sally Smith /Peter Clapham National tour

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