Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Bradford-born actress Mary Tamm dies aged 62
7:00am Friday 27th July 2012 in Bradford
Bradford-born actress Mary Tamm, best known for her roles in Doctor Who and The Odessa File, has died of cancer, aged 62.
Miss Tamm wrote about her Bradford childhood in her autobiography, First Generations.
In 2009 she returned to Bradford to sign copies of the book and told the Telegraph & Argus: “My father left his country, never to see his family again. He worked in Lister’s Mill, toiling long hours among mathematicians, surgeons, scientists – the finest brains in Estonia, packing wool.”
She recalled the time her art student sister brought David Hockney home for tea: “He’d dyed his hair tartan, my mother didn’t know what to make of him. He sketched her and after he left she said it was ‘rubbish’ and tried to light the fire with it!”
Aged 11, Miss Tamm joined Bradford Civic Theatre in Little Germany and later joined a theatre company with Bradford actors Duncan Preston, Edward Peel and Polly Hemingway.
“I learned a great deal those Wednesday evenings, gathering in a dingy room above a shop on Toller Lane,” she told the T&A. “We produced plays at Bradford University. It was a great place to be in the Swinging Sixties.”
In 1968 she left Bradford for RADA and got her break in 1974 film The Odsessa File, starring opposite Jon Voight. Over a four-decade career she appeared in TV dramas such as Coronation Street, Brookside, Jonathan Creek and more recently EastEnders, and she has a special place in the hearts of Doctor Who fans as Romana, assistant to Tom Baker’s Timelord in the 1970s.
She met fans at Doctor Who conventions around the world. “There’s a lot of affection for those wobbly sets,” she said. “The old shows were more story-driven, but I prefer the new ones – they’re slick.”
In her autobiography Miss Tamm wrote about Bradford’s Estonian Club, where she spent much of her childhood.
“Men reminisced about the old times and the women gathered in the kitchen making piroshki (Russian cakes). There was always music, dancing, card-playing, lively discussion and drinking. My mother conducted the choir, its sublime harmonies expressing the pain and frustration of a small people suffering injustices over centuries.”