Caroline John

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Caroline John
Liz Shaw.jpg
John as Liz Shaw on Doctor Who in 1970
Caroline Frances John

(1940-09-19)19 September 1940
York, England
Died5 June 2012(2012-06-05) (aged 71)
London, England
Years active1954–2008
TelevisionDoctor Who
A Perfect Spy
(m. 1970)

Caroline Frances John (19 September 1940 – 5 June 2012)[1] was an English actress best known for her role as Elizabeth "Liz" Shaw in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, as well as several other television roles.

Early life and education[edit]

John was the third of eight children born to theatre director Alexander John, and his wife the actress and singer Vera Winckworth.[2] She was educated at a convent school in Kenilworth. After training at the Central School of Speech and Drama, she worked in theatre, touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre Company in Juno and the Paycock in a 1966 production directed by Laurence Olivier, King Lear, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Merchant of Venice and as Hero in Franco Zeffirelli's production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Doctor Who[edit]

John played the role of the Doctor's companion in 1970 opposite Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor. John was recommended to then Doctor Who producer Peter Bryant by another BBC producer, James Cellan Jones, who sent Bryant and his associate Derrick Sherwin photographs of her.[citation needed] Unlike most of the preceding and subsequent female companions of the Doctor, Shaw was a brilliant scientist and understood much of the Doctor's technobabble. Shaw and the Doctor discussed things on a more equitable level of intelligence, and the Doctor respected and rarely patronised her. New series producer Barry Letts believed the character was too intellectual to be a suitable companion to the Doctor and decided against renewing her contract for the next season.[citation needed]

During her final story, Inferno, John also played the part of Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw, an alter ego of her regular character that the Doctor encounters in an alternative time stream. John reprised the role of Shaw, albeit as a phantom, in the anniversary episode The Five Doctors, and also appeared in the special episode Dimensions in Time (1993), part of the BBC's annual Children in Need appeal. In the 1990s she appeared in a series of straight-to-video releases including The Stranger: Breach of the Peace, and as Liz Shaw in the P.R.O.B.E. stories written by Mark Gatiss and featuring numerous actors from the history of Doctor Who – including Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. In these stories made by the production company BBV, a pipe-smoking Shaw works as an investigator (for the P.R.O.B.E. organisation); John is seen opposite Linda Lusardi in the former model's first acting role.

John later appeared in two Big Finish Productions' audio dramas based on Doctor Who; Dust Breeding (2001), although playing a character other than Liz Shaw, and The Blue Tooth (2007) where, as Liz, she recounts in narrative form an adventure she once had with the Doctor and UNIT. After The Blue Tooth she played Liz in four more Companion Chronicle audio plays; Binary, The Sentinels of the New Dawn and Shadow of the Past. Her final audio play, The Last Post, which she recorded on 26 January 2012, was released after her death.

Other performances[edit]

After leaving Doctor Who and the birth of her first child, John appeared in the BBC drama series The Doctors playing the recurring role of Marilyn Lane for four episodes in 1971.[3] In 1972, she appeared in the one-off BBC1 drama for the Omnibus strand, Actor, I said starring Barry Foster and Martin Jarvis, just a few weeks before appearing in the Z-Cars episode Operation Ascalon.[4] For the next several years, John became a regular performer in BBC Radio dramas, which included appearances in Radio 4 series Afternoon Theatre, Five Morning Plays, The Monday Play, Saturday Night Theatre, Story Time and being a regular story teller on Woman's Hour. Various BBC radio productions covered in these strands were Thérèse with Vivien Merchant,[5] Jane Eyre with Patrick Allen,[6] How To Get Away With Murder,[7] The Concert,[8] New Grub Street with Robert Powell,[9] Observations on a Jesting Man,[10] Mr. Campion's Falcon,[11] An Infinity of Changes[12] and Jane Austen's Lady Susan[13] among many others. John played the role of Laura Lyons in the BBC adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles, opposite Tom Baker. The four part adventure was produced by Barry Letts. She returned to radio for Radio 3's Light in Distant Rooms.[14]

In 1987, John appeared in the BBC2 drama series A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery: Gaudy Night as Miss Burrows.[15] She also appeared in the BBC's adaptation of John le Carré's A Perfect Spy as Dorothy Pym.[16] Throughout January 1988, John and her husband Geoffrey Beevers appeared in BBC Radio 4's Poetry Please[17] John and Beevers appeared together in an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot titled "Problem at Sea" as Mr and Mrs Tolliver. They both had roles in the audio play Dust Breeding and the TV adaptation of the political thriller A Very British Coup,[1] although they did not appear on screen together. John appeared in several episodes of Casualty as recurring character Edith Hewlett.[18] In 1995, she appeared as Janet Young in the BBC drama adaptation of Joanna Trollope's The Choir.[19] Other minor TV appearances included Eastenders, It Might Be You, Silent Witness and Dangerfield. John also appeared in a non-speaking, background role in the film Love Actually.

Her career in the theatre included appearances in His Majesty (1992), Silas Marner (1998), The Master Builder (1999), Death of a Salesman (2001), Happy Birthday Dear Alice (2002), and Dona Rosita (2004).[1]

Personal life[edit]

John was married to actor Geoffrey Beevers. The couple had three children: a daughter, Daisy, and sons Ben and Tom.[20] She died on 5 June 2012 from cancer.[21]


Film & TV[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1955 Raising a Riot schoolgirl in a food fight Uncredited
1970 Doctor Who Liz Shaw 25 episodes
1971 The Doctors Marilyn Lane 4 episodes
1972 Omnibus[22] Jenny Episode: "Actor, I Said"
1972 Z-Cars Mrs. Drummond Episode: "Operation Ascalon"
1973 Assassin Ann
1975 Going To Work[23]
1982 The Hound of the Baskervilles Laura Lyons 4 episodes
1983 Doctor Who: The Five Doctors Liz Shaw 20th Anniversary special
1984 Goodbye Days[24] Joan's Mother TV movie
1984 The Razor's Edge Mrs MacKenzie
1985 Santa Claus: The Movie Woman Uncredited
1985 British Social History Nine Days[25]
1986 Link Mrs. Miller Uncredited
1987 A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery: Gaudy Night Miss Burrows 3 episodes
1987 A Perfect Spy Dorothy Pym 1 episode
1988 Casualty Edith Hewlett 2 Episodes
1989 The Woman in Black Stella's Mother TV movie
1992 Moon and Son[26] Mrs. Thorpe Episode: "GI Joe Is Missing"
1993 Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time Liz Shaw Charity special
1994 Against All Odds[27] Caroline Cook
1995 The Choir[19] Janet Young 3 episodes
1995 Eastenders[28] Judge 1 episode
1995 It Might Be You[29] Barrister's Wife TV movie
1996 Silent Witness – Darkness Visible[30] Mrs. Claire 1 episode
1996 Dangerfield[31] Coroner Episode: "Inside Out"
1997 The Woodlanders Housekeeper
2003 Love Actually Sam's Grandmother
2008 Doctors[32] Susan Milnes Episode: "Mummy Dearest", (final appearance)


Year Title Network Notes Air Date
Review 2012: We Remember[33]
BBC News
Archive footage 31 December 2012


  1. ^ a b c Hadoke, Toby (21 June 2012). "Guardian obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  2. ^ Spearhead from Space Blu Ray, July 2013
  3. ^ "The Doctors". 6 May 1971. p. 38 – via BBC Genome.
  4. ^ "Z Cars: Operation Ascalon". 4 May 1972. p. 26 – via BBC Genome.
  5. ^ "The Monday Play". 17 February 1972. p. 31 – via BBC Genome.
  6. ^ "Jane Eyre". 30 March 1972. p. 35 – via BBC Genome.
  7. ^ "Afternoon Theatre". 25 May 1972. p. 19 – via BBC Genome.
  8. ^ "Five Morning Plays". 6 July 1972. p. 39 – via BBC Genome.
  9. ^ "Afternoon Theatre". 10 August 1972. p. 21 – via BBC Genome.
  10. ^ "Monday Play: Observations on a Jesting Man". 21 September 1972. p. 29 – via BBC Genome.
  11. ^ "Saturday-Night Theatre". 19 October 1972. p. 29 – via BBC Genome.
  12. ^ "Saturday-NightTheatre". 9 November 1972. p. 29 – via BBC Genome.
  13. ^ "Story Time". 14 December 1972. p. 81 – via BBC Genome.
  14. ^ "Light in Distant Rooms". 18 November 1982. p. 43 – via BBC Genome.
  15. ^ "A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery: Gaudy Night". 7 May 1987. p. 65 – via BBC Genome.
  16. ^ "A Perfect Spy". 29 October 1987. p. 67 – via BBC Genome.
  17. ^ "Poetry Please!". 14 January 1988. p. 37 – via BBC Genome.
  18. ^ "Casualty". 15 September 1988. p. 101 – via BBC Genome.
  19. ^ a b "The Choir". 16 March 1995. p. 72 – via BBC Genome.
  20. ^ "Big Finish tribute". Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  21. ^ "Caroline John".
  22. ^ "Omnibus". 6 April 1972. p. 22 – via BBC Genome.
  23. ^ "For Schools, Colleges". 17 April 1975. p. 35 – via BBC Genome.
  24. ^ "Goodbye Days". 28 June 1984. p. 51 – via BBC Genome.
  25. ^ "Daytime on Two". 25 April 1985. p. 45 – via BBC Genome.
  26. ^ "Moon and Son: G.I. Joe Is Missing". 16 January 1992. p. 36 – via BBC Genome.
  27. ^ "Against All Odds". 17 November 1994. p. 98 – via BBC Genome.
  28. ^ "EastEnders". 9 November 1995. p. 94 – via BBC Genome.
  29. ^ "It Might Be You". 14 December 1995. p. 142 – via BBC Genome.
  30. ^ "Silent Witness". 14 March 1996. p. 92 – via BBC Genome.
  31. ^ "Dangerfield". 7 November 1996. p. 112 – via BBC Genome.
  32. ^ "Doctors". 3 July 2008. p. 85 – via BBC Genome.
  33. ^ "Review 2012:We Remember". Retrieved 5 January 2013.

External links[edit]