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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Entertainment & Interests > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Doctor Who

Doctor Who "Bigger on the inside..."

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Old August 31 2013, 01:14 AM   #1
TedShatner10
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1970s Female Companions Dying

OK, this a painful topic to go over, but I think it's a very bad run of awful luck that we've had at least three former female companions from the 1970s that have died in recent times.

Everybody's going to die eventually, but it's still troubling that Mary Tamm and Elizabeth Sladen died roughly two decades or so before the average Western life expectancy in their sixties. Caroline John also died at the somewhat older but still rather saddening age of 71. All from particularly nasty sounding cancers.

And another former female companion has been diagnosed with cancer recently (and I hope she pulls through).

Was it something the BBC put in its water? People have pointed at the possibility of asbestos used in the construction material.
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Old August 31 2013, 01:33 AM   #2
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

There was a massive asbestos problem at Television Centre back in the '70s and many of the actors also smoked which also increased their health risk.
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Old August 31 2013, 01:47 AM   #3
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

The Babyboomers partying harder than their parents? Hence the wave of strokes/cancers/heart attacks claiming so many so relatively young in their 40s to 60s?
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Old August 31 2013, 02:12 AM   #4
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

It's possible, particularly the suggested asbestos link.
But Carry John did very little work at Television Centre after leaving Who, though she did do a lot for Granada, whose studios were built in the same era so presumably had the same asbestos problem. Arguing against that, you'd expect there to be a lot of casualties among the Corrie cast as a result, and that's not the case.
Add in on that: there's a trend for women to either live long, into their 90s, or die a little early, in their 60s (average lifespan is only an average), whereas men tend to die closer to the average lifespan.
A rogue element might be the Fuller's Earth used in FX explosions on Who: it's been blamed for the cancer deaths of the Dad's Army cast (who were already elderly, but who went down to cancer more than averages would suggest, and had waded their way through massive FX explosions for the end title sequence).
Still, it's probably just a sad set of coincidences. And very probably the smoking.
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Old August 31 2013, 10:02 AM   #5
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

diankra wrote: View Post
Still, it's probably just a sad set of coincidences. And very probably the smoking.
I think this is it really. With regard to asbestos it would be interesting to see what the wider situation was with regard to all BBC staff, not just companions; the camera men, lighting technicians, producers, directors, grips, cleaners....obviously a lot of companions and Doctors from that era are still alive and still healthy.

People die younger than the average every day, it's just more noticeable and harrowing to a wider audience because they're people we saw on the telly.
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Old August 31 2013, 02:50 PM   #6
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

Yeah, it's not very nice to have a famous person you'd admired or had a crush on die tragically all of a sudden.
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Old September 1 2013, 06:38 PM   #7
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

While not female, Ian Marter died on the younger side, too.
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Old September 2 2013, 02:33 AM   #8
diankra
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

sidious618 wrote: View Post
While not female, Ian Marter died on the younger side, too.
That's not a mystery: he was diabetic, and had a heart attack as a result.
I'll mention here that I do a bit of help for diabetes uk who can be found at diabetes.org.uk
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Old September 2 2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

TedShatner10 wrote: View Post
.

Everybody's going to die eventually, but it's still troubling that Mary Tamm and Elizabeth Sladen died roughly two decades or so before the average Western life expectancy in their sixties. Caroline John also died at the somewhat older but still rather saddening age of 71. All from particularly nasty sounding cancers.

And another former female companion has been diagnosed with cancer recently (and I hope she pulls through).

Was it something the BBC put in its water? People have pointed at the possibility of asbestos used in the construction material.
If you mean Janet Fielding I believe she's doing ok.

Reading what her family wrote at the time I think Lis died from a bad reaction to the medication rather than directly due to the cancer, they were hopeful of a recovery before that. I think both Lis and Carrie had fought it before in the 90s.

Frazer has beaten it too.

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diankra wrote: View Post
Still, it's probably just a sad set of coincidences. And very probably the smoking.
I think this is it really. With regard to asbestos it would be interesting to see what the wider situation was with regard to all BBC staff, not just companions; the camera men, lighting technicians, producers, directors, grips, cleaners....obviously a lot of companions and Doctors from that era are still alive and still healthy.
There's probably more Dr Who directors still around from the 60s than 70s and 80s combined, and very few writers from the 60s - but thats mostly an age thing, the show started off with mostly new directors, and JNT prefered to use more experienced ones.

Its a sad point of note that the first episode to loose its entire credited cast isn't even a Black and White story - it's Spearhead From Space 4 from 1970. Only two actors left from the whole story.
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Old September 4 2013, 10:48 PM   #10
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

I've certainly been a bit freaked out by how we've been losing so many '70s companions. Especially while most of the '60s companions are still with us.

From the '60s, the living:dead ratio is 10:3.
From the '70s, the living:dead ratio is 3:5. (5:5 if you count Benton & Yates.)
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Old September 5 2013, 09:10 AM   #11
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

er, but you could count Benton and Yates as 60's companions couldn't you? Certainly Benton was definitely around in Troughton's time. And the Brigadier is technically a 60s companion as well.
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Old September 5 2013, 10:31 AM   #12
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Re: 1970s Female Companions Dying

Starkers wrote: View Post
er, but you could count Benton and Yates as 60's companions couldn't you? Certainly Benton was definitely around in Troughton's time. And the Brigadier is technically a 60s companion as well.
The Brig appeared in two serials in 1968, Benton in one. Not again until 1970 and the Pertwee era. All things considered, at most, that's like Donna's appearance in The Runaway Bride before her becoming full-time, proper companion in Series Four. Even that's a stretch, especially in Benton's case. More like Wilf's cameo in Voyage of the Damned, I'd say. But certainly until Spearhead From Space there was no indication that either would ever be anything close to "companion status."

In either case, Yates wasn't around until Terror of the Autons in 1971.
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