Caroline John

For Carolyn Johns, see The Kransky Sisters.
Caroline John

John as Liz Shaw on Doctor Who in 1970
Born Caroline Frances John
(1940-09-19)19 September 1940
York, North Yorkshire, England
Died 5 June 2012(2012-06-05) (aged 71)
London, England
Cause of death Cancer
Occupation Actress
Years active 1954-1975, 1982-2012
Television Doctor Who
A Perfect Spy
Spouse(s) Geoffrey Beevers (1970–2012, her death)
Children 3

Caroline Frances John (19 September 1940 5 June 2012)[1][2][3] 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. John was the third of eight children born to Alexander John and Vera Winckworth. 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 in Juno and the Paycock 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

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.[4] 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.[5]

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; 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

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. John starred with her husband Geoffrey Beevers in an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot titled "Problem at Sea" as Mr & Mrs Tolliver. They both had roles in the audio play Dust Breeding and the TV adaptation of the political thriller A Very British Coup,[6] although they did not appear on screen together. 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).<ref name=obit/

Personal life

Caroline John was the third of eight children born to theatre director Alexander John, and his wife the actress and singer Vera Winckworth.[7] John was married to actor Geoffrey Beevers. The couple had three children: a daughter, Daisy, and sons Ben and Tom.[8] She died on 5 June 2012 from cancer.[9]



Year Title Network Notes Air Date
Review 2012: We Remember[10]
BBC News
Archive footage31 December 2012


  1. Hadoke, Toby (21 June 2012). "Guardian obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  2. "Tweet from official BBC Doctor Who account". Retrieved 2012-06-21.
  3. "Doctor Who actress Caroline John dies aged 72". BBC News. 2012-06-21. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
  4. "Spearhead From Space". A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  5. "Inferno". A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  6. Hadoke, Toby (21 June 2012). "Caroline John obituary". The Guardian.
  7. Spearhead from Space Blu Ray, July 2013
  8. "Big Finish tribute". Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  9. "Caroline John".
  10. "Review 2012:We Remember". Retrieved 5 January 2013.

External links

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