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Caroline John 1940-2012

June 23rd, 2012 (12:10 am)

A mystery: a woman with long hair, leaning against the third Doctor on Bessie. The letter of the answer: the brisk, efficient, perceptive scientist in Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion, the self-possessed woman who knew the measure of human frailty in Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters. Finally, the spirit and the substance of the answer: that amused smile, gently authoritative voice, precise body language, expression that was always questing, always determined, whatever terrors arose from beneath the Earth or descended from outer space. The vocal control which showed that even in another universe where a moral compass had been thoroughly brutalised, a conscience remained true.

Much later: an autograph queue, BAFTA. I'd ducked in to see what was happening and buy a book, and found a signing session in full swing. I'd not been at one since a towering actor had placed his hat on my head and wrote that I looked good in it on the short title page of my copy of Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin. Old hands made their way up and down the queue, it was so long and there were so few tables: "Watling? Anyone for Watling?" called a smoke-aged voice like some wine-marinated sergeant-major. A jolly blonde woman remembered people she'd met before, and introduced them to her seemingly more introverted male colleague. I reached the table; a stuntman appraised me sceptically, a practical man gazing on a starstruck fantasist. Then, an even more talkative woman, not falling back on the "Isn't this fantastic!" line it's easy to resort to in these situations, but questioning, wondering how I discovered Doctor Who, and why I stayed with it. I can't remember my reply. I asked her to sign my Television Companion, which she did, under the listing for Inferno which unfortunately detailed her removal from the series. I moved on, and she found something else as specific and new to say to the next person. Good casting, I thought. Thank you, Carry.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/520477.html.


Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: June 23rd, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

Sad news. I thought Caroline John was under-rated and under-used by the season seven production team. She was an important part of my second favourite season (mere millimetres away from being my absolute favourite), and perhaps the most stylistically consistent and consistently good season of Doctor Who ever, not excluding the post-2005 seasons.

Thanks for this post - personal and moving. Would you consider sending it to DWM as a letter? I think it would have a good chance of ending up as letter of the month.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 23rd, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)

Thank you - I'll think about redrafting it as a letter. Caroline John was definitely underused, but always judged her performance correctly, and enjoyed a good chemistry with Nicholas Courtney, or so it seemed to me.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: June 23rd, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee

What a great experience (I'm jealous now!), and what a lovely tribute. I agree with daniel_saunders - send it to DWM and see if they like it!

Goodbye Liz.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 23rd, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)

I'll have to think about redrafting the piece as a letter - thanks for the endorsement!

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: June 24th, 2012 02:19 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee

I don't think it will needs any redrafting, just an opening (not even an end I think, what you have is perfect _ just follow up with (yours sincerely etc.)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 24th, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)

I redrafted it anyway, because I didn't think there was enough of Ms John. Now e-mailed to the people at Panini Towers.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: June 24th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee

Good luck!