The Doctor's Companions

K9 Romana (Her First Incarnation) Romana2
The Ribos Operation - The Armageddon Factor
(1978 - 1979)
Mary Tamm
 Mary Tamm was born in 1950, in Dewsbury, Yorkshire. She trained at RADA before starting her career with the Birmingham Repertory Company in 1971. In 1972 she moved to London to appear in a rock musical called Mother Earth. Her film credits include The Odessa File in 1974 and Three Kinds of Heat (with also starred Sylvester McCoy). Her television roles included Coronation Street, as well as Casualty, The Bill, Bergerac and Brookside. She was originally reluctant to audition for the part of Romana but after being told that it would be a departure from the traditional companion she decided to accept the role. However, it was not as much of a departure as she had been led to believe, and so after only a single season she decided to leave. Soon after, in 1978, she married businessman Marcus Ringrose. In the mid-eighties, she appeared in John Nathan-Turner's pantomime production of Cinderella as Prince Charming, along with Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, and Anthony Ainley. Her most recent television role was a guest appearance in the BBC1 drama Doctors in Apr 2000.

Unfortunately Mary Tamm died in July 2012 at the age of 62.
 The Doctor rarely seems to choose his companions - they seem to arrive on board either by accident or thanks to their own determined efforts when the do not realise fully the journey they are about to embark upon. Romana's arrival however was a bit different.

The Ribos Operation
The Ribos Operation
 Travelling alone after the departure of Leela and K9 Mk I, The Doctor's TARDIS was stopped in mid-flight by the enormously powerful White Guardian, who wanted The Doctor to help locate the six segments of the Key to Time that had been scattered throughout the universe. To assist The Doctor in his quest to gather the pieces of the Key to Time together successfully it was felt that he needed a new travelling companion: A young, proud and aristocratic female Time Lord named Romanadvoratrelundar, (or "Romana" for short) was chosen.

 Romana was a recent graduate from the Time Lord academy on The Doctor's home planet of Gallifrey. She had gained a much higher level of achievement than The Doctor and revelled in showing her superior knowledge. She was also initially proud of her full name but she had to get use to its shortened version while with The Doctor. She is at first furious at his insistences on the diminutive 'Romana' - his reasoning being that by the time he’d called out her full name to warn her of danger she would already be dead - and even more furious at his sometimes mischievous further foreshortening to 'Romy', although their greatest disagreement occurred when she was forced to pander to the hormone-induced affections of genetically-engineered permanent teen Huvan, who had become the new conduit for the telepathic energies of the powerful being known as Valdemar and had to be kept distracted while The Doctor looked for information about his change ("Tomb of Valdemar ").

 Despite The Doctor's insistence that he worked better alone and that, from his point of view, Romana was just another imposition on his much treasured independence the decision had already been made and so there was little he could do about it. To make matters worse it was obvious that Romana lacked experience and there was a possibility that she could have been put on board to spy on him. And so when Romana made her debut in the opening story of Season Sixteen, when she turned up unannounced in the TARDIS console room and made a hole in the console for the Tracer for the Key’s segments, it was left to The Doctor to make the best of things.

The Pirate Planet
The Pirate Planet
 Her lack of practical experience outside the confines of the Capitol on Gallifrey often led her into trouble, which required The Doctor's help to extricate her on numerous occasions. Although intelligent and sophisticated, Romana was a little haughty, and her naivety often tried The Doctor's patience. Romana shows her naivety and lack of practical experience by the rashness of her actions and her normal cool-headedness - as demonstrated by her habit of adopting a casual attitude when talking with the villains they encountered even as they threatened to kill her - was at first offset by a dangerous desire to compete with The Doctor for the limelight. It also irked him that she was somewhat more qualified than he was and that she often proved that she was more than an equal of The Doctor, on one occasion managing to pilot the TARDIS into a discontinuous space containing another version of itself ("Heart of TARDIS").

 She is, at first, horrified at The Doctor's dismissal of the Codes of Practice, especially when it came to operating the TARDIS, which had been instilled into her education. However, as their quest for the Key to Time continued, she came to appreciate that The Doctor's unorthodox methods had their advantages. Her original haughty tolerance towards The Doctor rapidly changed to respect, although his often irreverent attitude and apparent inability to admit when he was wrong - such as when he attempted to sing an opera intended for a race with three larynxes despite being physiologically incapable of properly doing so ("Tomb of Valdemar") - continued to frustrate her.

 Romana is a very attractive young woman who possessed the virtue of youthful impetuousness, courage and an agility not only of body - although she reflected that a more compact form would be more useful in her time with The Doctor, resolving to regenerate once a suitable template was found ("Heart of TARDIS") - but also of mind. Strong-minded, burning with a curiosity, super-intelligent and sophisticated she slowly overcomes her upbringing and eventually adapts to new patterns of thought and behaviour and so learns a great deal about life away from the stuffy confines of Gallifrey as her self-important 'know-it-all' stance mellowed, resulting in her taking the initiative to a greater extent, such as when she once posed as a nightclub singer in 1930s China while investigating a temporal anomaly ("The Shadow of Weng-Chiang"). For example, she eventually sees the sense in The Doctor's biting criticisms of her wearing a full-length dress as being somewhat impractical and so, to his astonishment, cuts it off above the knee to give herself more freedom of movement. Her originally low opinion of Earth’s people and their technological abilities also improved over time, aided in no small part by her brief period of captivity where she shared a cell with The Doctor’s old friend The Brigadier and received a first-hand look at the humanity whom The Doctor had come to care for ("Heart of TARDIS").

The Androids of Tara
The Androids of Tara
 The Doctor, though initially piqued by her uninvited presence aboard his TARDIS, soon warmed to his intelligent Time Lady companion. As he grew to know and respect her he made full use of Romana's latent talents of logic and deduction combined with his own formidable powers. As time went on they became the team that they were meant to be from the start. Their caustic banter and mutual put-downs became a sign of respect, even fondness, although The Doctor never became as close to Romana as he had been with previous companions. As their quest to assemble the Key to Time came to a conclusion, Romana was able to finally prove her worth to The Doctor when she faced off the White Guardian's opposing force, The Black Guardian, when he tried to trick The Doctor into handing over the completed Key at the season's conclusion.

The Armageddon Factor
The Armageddon Factor
 By the end of the sixteenth season the strength of both The Doctor's and Romana's personalities made for an excellent on-screen tension and despite the fact that she seemed so much a part of the Key to Time season the character was popular, and it was obvious that she had not outlived her usefulness as a companion over just one season. However, as Mary Tamm, the actress who played her, was keen to leave the show a solution had to be found for her character to continue. The logical answer was obvious - Romana was a Time Lord so she could simply regenerate just like The Doctor. Although the precise reasons for her regeneration vary - there is some evidence that the TARDIS may have triggered the regeneration, although recent events reveal that it was actually caused by a combination of Romana subconsciously attempting to escape the mental control of an ancient Gallifreyian ruler called Pandora and her being infused with the essence of the sixth segment of the Key following Astra’s restoration as a person - by her next televised appearance Romana had assumed, much to the horror of The Doctor, the likeness of the Princess Astra of Atrios, the woman who had been the final segment to the Key to Time. And so the character of Romana lived on despite being slightly different.

 Unlike The Doctor, Romana has never experienced a meeting between multiple incarnations of herself, with her various forms all remaining in their proper places in time. However, Romana’s memories of her first incarnation have physically manifested themselves at a later point in her life, when she was investigating the existence of the ancient Gallifreyian leader Pandora. After entering the Matrix unintentionally, Romana and Leela encountered Romana’s first incarnation, learning that she had taken on the ‘Imperatrix Imprimatur’ when she discovered the remnants of Pandora in the Matrix while at the Academy, only to be hypnotised into forgetting this encounter by Cardinal Braxiatel - a Time Lord who was in constant contact with his past and future selves to assemble artefacts for his future self’s collection, rumoured by some to be The Doctor’s brother - her regeneration being forced when the damage done by the Shadow threatened to break her conditioning. Although Pandora was able to eventually manifest a new form based on the first Romana, having already used Romana’s past self to manipulate Inquisitor Darkel’s attempts to discredit Romana’s liberal policies through the creation of terrorist threats, Romana was able to defeat Pandora by drawing her back into the Matrix, although this resulted in both the destruction of the Matrix and the loss of the mental manifestation of Roman’s first incarnation to prevent Pandora from ever returning.

Memorable Moment
Television Stories
Format Story Doctor Fellow Companions Season Episodes
Television The Ribos Operation The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 4
Television The Pirate Planet The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 4
Television The Stones of Blood The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 4
Television The Androids of Tara The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 4
Television The Power of Kroll The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 4
Television The Armageddon Factor The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 6
Total Stories:   6 Total Episodes:   26
Other Stories
Format Story Doctor Fellow Companions Season Source
Book Heart of TARDIS The 2nd Doctor and The 4th Doctor Jamie, Victoria, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Sergeant Benton Season 16 The Past Doctors Stories
Book Tomb of Valdemar The 4th Doctor   Season 16 The Past Doctors Stories
Book The Shadow of Weng-Chiang The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 The Missing Adventures
Book The Glarn Strategy
The 4th Doctor
  Season 16 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book Good Queen, Bad Queen, I Queen, You Queen
The 4th Doctor
K9 Season 16 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book Lust: Suitors, Inc. The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book Life from Lifelessness The 1st Doctor and The 4th Doctor Susan and K9 Season 16 The Big Finish Short Trips
Audio Stealers from Saiph The 4th Doctor   Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio Ferril's Folly The 4th Doctor   Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio The Auntie Matter The 4th Doctor   Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio The Sands of Life The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio War Against the Laan The 4th Doctor   Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio The Justice of Jalxar The 4th Doctor   Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio Phantoms of the Deep The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio The Dalek Contract The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio The Final Phase The 4th Doctor K9 Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Audio Tales From the Vault The 1st Doctor, The 2nd Doctor, The 3rd Doctor and The 4th Doctor Steven Taylor, Zoe and Jo Grant Season 16 The Big Finish Audio Stories
Book The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe The 4th Doctor   Season 17 The Big Finish Short Trips
Audio Gallifrey: Lies   Leela, K9 and 2nd Romana - The Gallifrey Audio Stories
Total Stories:   19
Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at
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