Back at the start of 2010, I began work on a Doctor Who book based around a search to obtain a signed photo from as many female TARDIS companions as I could manage to track down. The book called Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman – I thought it was quite a clever title... in many ways it was the best bit of the book!
I was happy with the first edition, but far more pleased with the second (which is still available via www.lulu.com hint hint..!). The saddest part of the reissued version was that Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith arguably the best-loved of all the Doctor’s companions, had passed away on 19th November 2011. I had received two photos from Lis and their inclusion now had a much greater and more poignant significance.
The biggest disappointment was my inability (and I tried really hard) to contact Carole Ann Ford, the eponymous Susan Foreman. The character was clearly central to the book, but my seeking... desperate or otherwise... had proved unsuccessful.
Just over twelve months on from Lis Sladen’s untimely death, two more former companions from whom I had received replies have also passed away: Caroline John (who played Liz Shaw) in June 2012 and Mary Tamm (Romana) the following month. The death of the former was a particular shock, as Caroline had not only sent two signed pictures, but had written a note asking for a copy of the book and then a lovely thank you letter (with a cheque that I hadn’t asked for but donated to charity at Caroline’s request).
At this point, I decided to have one last try at finding some of the "missing” companions by exerting some gentle pressure on a couple of agents. The response was immediate as three photos of Louise Jameson (Leela) arrived within a week, but then nothing...
Totally out of the blue, the photo at the bottom of the page arrived!!
True, I didn’t find every companion, but I found the overwhelming majority... and I might just have to add an afterword to the current book to bring the search to an official conclusion. Susan Foreman has been desperately sought... and eventually found!
All my own work... almost.