Once again, it's the redoubtable Charlie Jane Anders who's summed up the importance of gorgeous Mary Tamm to the show -- so I encourage you to read her remembrance of "Romana I" over there on io9.com.
But as if the early, early passing of Mary Tamm wasn't bad enough in itself, it makes her the third of the 1970s DOCTOR WHO companions who died of cancer, two of them in their early 60s. Louise Jameson (Leela), bless her, keeps the chain from being unbroken. Long live our Leela!
Still, it's more than a little creepy, losing Lis Sladen, Caroline John, and Mary Tamm -- all within such a short time. Were our ladies exposed to something carcinogenic while working on the series in those days?
Sweet little Katie Manning (Jo Grant) is still with us, thank goodness, and so is Lalla Ward (Romana II). I recently had the pleasure of meeting Matthew Waterhouse and Louise Jameson and Sarah Sutton (Adric, Tegan, and Nyssa), and they all seemed in good health, hale and hearty. For that matter, I also recently met William Russell (Ian Chesterton) who played the clever and brave Ian Chesterton in the very first episode of the show (and for three years after) and at age 87 he looked like he might go on forever. Maybe they're all saved by spending so much time in the studio?
I dunno. I think there was something toxic in those rock quarries that the show used and reused as alien locations in those days. I hope Tom Baker will see his doctor for a checkup right away.