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First Impressions

The late Mary Tamm was the first actress to play Romana, the Time Lady sent by Gallifrey to assist the Doctor in his quest for the Key to Time. In 1983 Mary discussed the experience with an Australian Doctor Who fanzine. These are highlights of that conversation.
Mary Tamm as Romana in a publicity portrait from The Ribos Operation (1978)..
Domestic duties for Mary in the kitchen of her Clapham flat

Mary Tamm’s cut-glass diction and elegant beauty typed her as aloof, aristocratic characters. In 1978 the Doctor Who production team considered her ideal casting for Romanadvoratrelundar, a Time Lady with a glacial air of superiority. In reality, however, Mary was a down-to-earth Yorkshire girl with a weakness for chip butties.

She was in a typically frank and affable mood when she gave a detailed interview to visiting Australian fan Michael Norman in 1983. His article eventually appeared in a 1986 issue of fanzine Zerinza, augmented by comments Mary had made in an earlier interview with David J Howe.

By 1986 it was abundantly clear that playing Romana had done Mary’s career no harm at all. She had enjoyed major roles in the thriller series The Assassination Run (1980) and The Treachery Game (1981), as well as co-starring with Ian Lavender in the sitcom The Hello Goodbye Man (1984). Prominent parts in Brookside (1993-96), Paradise Heights (2002) and EastEnders (2009) were still to come. But for now, she was happy to recall the year she spent searching for the Key to Time alongside Tom Baker’s Doctor.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The Doctor’s own people, and his home planet, were introduced in 1969 as a major chapter in the series’ history came to an end. Five decades later, the Time Lords and their devastating war with the Daleks are still essential parts of Doctor Who’s mythology. This special publication analyses every story set on Gallifrey, reveals previously unseen images from the making of the episodes and interviews key players in the Time Lords’ fascinating story.