She was a civilian member of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. An accomplished scientist, Liz assisted the Doctor while there. This often involved her winding up in the same life-threatening situations as the Doctor.
Liz was the daughter of Reuben Shaw (1919-1995) and Dame Emily Shaw. (HOMEVID: Ghosts of Winterborne, AUDIO: The Last Post) She was born in 1943 in Stoke-on-Trent. (PROSE: The Devil Goblins from Neptune) She had a sister, Lucy Shaw. (AUDIO: The Last Post)
She was an accomplished scientist and an expert on meteorites. She had degrees in several disciplines, including physics and medicine. (TV: Spearhead from Space) She could speak French, or at least to a reasonable degree of proficiency. (TV: The Ambassadors of Death) She was friends with Anne Travers. (PROSE: Mind of Stone)
Experiences with UNIT
Liz was drafted from the University of Cambridge by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart as a scientific advisor to UNIT. Lethbridge-Stewart did not know that the Doctor had arrived on Earth and would ably serve as UNIT's scientific advisor. Sceptical at first of UNIT's remit to defend the Earth against alien invasions, she changed her mind when she encountered the newly-regenerated Doctor. With him, she became involved in defeating the Nestene Consciousness and its animated plastic servants, the Autons. (TV: Spearhead from Space)
Career with UNIT
Liz joined the Doctor and the Brigadier at the Wenley Moor nuclear research facility, where the Silurians had been drawing power from the facility. After a young Silurian released an epidemic into England, the Doctor and Liz rushed to find a cure, while Liz gave the formula away to be mass produced. After this plan was stopped, the Silurians tried destroying Earth's van Allen Belt using their molecular disperser, so that the sun's radiation would burn the humans to death while allowing the cold-blooded Silurians to survive. Under the Doctor's instructions, Liz overloaded the Silurians' disperser and the facility's reactor. As the Silurians retreated to put themselves back into hibernation, the Doctor and Liz watched as the Brigadier ordered the Silurian base blown up and the entrance permanently sealed off. (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians)
She was asked by UNIT to investigate an alien computer after a couple of scientists disappeared whilst working on it. They asked her to look at the computer and she had to hack into one on an alien spaceship with the Doctor's help. She was initially helped by James Foster before he disappeared and then by Childs. She was transported into the computer to help fix it. (AUDIO: Binary)
Whilst the Doctor was in one of his moods Liz went to see her old friend Jean Baisemore discovering that she had gone missing. The Doctor arrived to investigate the disappearance of a set of scientists of which Jean was on. She was infected with a cyberconversion fluid when she went to a dentist. On discovering a Cybermat, the Doctor and Liz encountered a Cyberman ship under Jeans house. (AUDIO: The Blue Tooth)
Liz was later called with the Doctor to investigate a crashed spaceship in the Penines. She tried to work out where the ship came from. When they got back from the North she helped to investigate the ship, testing the material it was made from. The Doctor started to act weird after seeing the contents of the ship and Liz started to be concerned, especially when the Mim started to invade. She discovered that the Mim had impersonated the Doctor and that's why he was acting weird. Entering the TARDIS she discovered an unconscious Doctor and helped him back to health. It was in the TARDIS where she met another Time Lord, when the Doctor asked for their help. (AUDIO: Shadow of the Past)
Liz found herself chased down the road by a group of terrorists working for General Carrington who forced her to pull over and run for her life, until she tripped up on a pier and nearly fell to her death. She was saved by the men who wanted to kidnap her, and then put to work for her skills as a scientist to monitor the life signs of alien ambassadors who had been captured to use as living weapons. Liz was also made to help the terrorists learn to communicate with the aliens, soon accompanied by the Doctor after the terrorist for hire Reegan arranged for his capture by gassing him after he finished a trip into space. However, after he and Liz had finished work on an improved communication device, the Doctor discretely used it to send an S.O.S. signal to UNIT, which allowed the Brigadier to conduct a raid on the secret base and rescue them. (TV: The Ambassadors of Death)
She often had dinner with her mother and discussed her work with UNIT. The first occurrence was during the Nestene invasion where a set of civil servants were dying and they had letters foretelling their deaths. She later wrote to her mother after the Silurian incident after she found a letter in Dr Lawrence's coat telling him when he was going to die. Emily later told her that the people who were receiving these letters were on her committee. Whilst dealing with the Mars Probe 7 issue she found another letter amongst Bruno Taltalian's things. She managed to persuade the Doctor when her mother got one of the letters. After the Doctor saved her mother but went into a coma she investigated the committee that her mother was on, and found them all in stasis fields. She later found the apocalypse clock, the machine that was sending the letters, in a bunker under Whitechapel and told it that it was the cause of the end of the world. (AUDIO: The Last Post)
On Inferno Earth, the Doctor met a parallel version of Liz who had joined the military, Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw. This version of Liz probably died, along with most of the rest of the other Earth in volcanic explosions. (TV: Inferno)
Liz received anonymous messages in the post about treachery in C19, the liaison between UNIT, the UN and the British government, which also said that she would be assisted by a journalist from Amsterdam called Jana Kristan. She received a call from what she assumed was Jana, but was actually an agent of the C19 splinter group after Jana had been murdered. Liz and "Jana" met in a café, where the anonymous man gave them a final letter containing a map leading to L'Ithe in the Channel Islands, which was linked to "something dangerous" going on in the North of England. After heading to L'Ithe, Jana killed a Silurian and the tribe's leader Chukk. In the Silurian shelter under the island, Liz spotted the Doctor and ran towards him, but Jana shot at her before the Silurians killed Jana with their third eyes. The Silurian-Sea Devil hybrid Baal D'jo helped Liz heal from her wounds.
After the Doctor was returned to the British mainland with the kidnapped boy Marc Marshall, the still-injured Liz was kept prisoner and worked with Baal and his sister Sula on a means of curing the illness that led to the hybrids' shortened lifespans. After UNIT had stopped the C19 rogue agents' plans to take over the world, Liz returned to UNIT HQ and agreed to take part in diplomatic relations between humanity and the Silurian tribe, and to continue to find a cure for the hybrids' condition. Liz resigned from UNIT and returned to Cambridge. She had a tearful goodbye with the Doctor, feeling inadequate to him and grieving over Marc's death at the C19 Vault. He made it appear that he didn't care, bringing out the true feelings of who she was at heart after she had only conducted herself around him as a work-minded colleague. The Doctor respected her decision to resign and was touched by her inner compassion, happy that he had finally seen "the real Liz" underneath the scientist. She quietly gave him a fond farewell while he played with a caterpillar, unable to say a proper goodbye to his face without being overcome with emotion. (PROSE: The Scales of Injustice)
According to one account, Liz's departure after the C19 incident coincided with Mike Yates being promoted from sergeant to captain and joining UNIT full-time. (PROSE: The Scales of Injustice) Another account stated that Yates was promoted from lieutenant to captain at a point when Liz no longer worked with the Doctor and UNIT, and when Yates was stationed in Scotland. (AUDIO: Vengeance of the Stones)
One account suggested that she did not return to Cambridge, but instead went to work for CERN, a then-new secret organisation. (PROSE: Country of the Blind) According to another account, when the Doctor asked if she returned to Cambridge University, Liz responded, "Indeed." (COMIC: In With the Tide)
Liz occasionally returned to help UNIT and the Doctor (PROSE: The Devil Goblins from Neptune) and even invited the Doctor to a lecture. (COMIC: Change of Mind) On one occasion, however, when the Doctor had gone away to Peladon, and the Brigadier needed her assistance, she had gone away on a lecture tour. (PROSE: The Face of the Enemy)
One year after leaving UNIT, Liz called the Third Doctor for help with a time experiment. They travelled to the year 2014 and encountered the organisation known as the Sentinels of the New Dawn. They returned to Liz's correct time and the two separated again. (AUDIO: The Sentinels of the New Dawn)
A few years after leaving UNIT, Liz gave a short interview to the investigative journalist James Stevens. Stevens found her a "difficult" subject. She warned him against prying too deeply into UNIT affairs. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
In 1974, Liz was summoned back to UNIT when Earth was being flooded. While dealing with this crisis, she discovered the Brigadier was acting strangely, giving orders to reassign UNIT troops "in a haphazard, unpredictable manner". She summoned the Doctor and his companion, Sarah Jane Smith, to help. When the Brigadier ordered the Tower of London to be sealed off and flooded, Liz finally decided he was unfit for duty and gave him a check up. The Doctor deduced that the Brigadier had been possessed by a Remoraxian, a species that wanted to flood the world to allow them to colonise. The Doctor built a de-remorator to remove the Remoraxian from the Brigadier.
The Doctor, Sarah Jane, Liz and the Brigadier went to the nearby UNIT seabase along with Agent Paul of the CIA. There, the Remoraxian Prime was orchestrating its plot to flood the world. When the Remoraxian Prime sent the Doctor and the Brigadier to the bottom of the sea, Sarah and Liz saved them from drowning.
The American government authorised the nuclear bombing of Great Britain to stop the threat; the Doctor was given 29 minutes to negotiate with the Remoraxians. After the Brigadier persuaded the Remoraxian Prime that the Americans would follow through with the attack, the Remoraxians left Earth, ending the storms, and Agent Paul called off the bombing.
As the Doctor's travelling companion
Generally, Liz was the Third Doctor's laboratory assistant rather than his travelling companion. She joined him at a time when the Doctor was just beginning his exile on Earth. She expressed disbelief that the TARDIS was capable of flight when she first met the Doctor and remained incredulous for some time thereafter. (TV: Spearhead from Space, Inferno) To the extent that when she travelled with him, it was in Bessie or by other, more conventional means.
However, she later travelled in the TARDIS with the Doctor and her successor, Jo Grant, after the Doctor regained his knowledge of time travel. (PROSE: The Wages of Sin) At one point, she travelled with the Fourth Doctor, who had deliberately sought her out to apologise for not saying goodbye to her properly. (PROSE: Down to Earth)
In the 1990s, Shaw was headhunted for the Preternatural Research Bureau, or P.R.O.B.E., a paranormal investigation organisation not unlike UNIT or the Torchwood Institute. Unlike them, P.R.O.B.E. found itself dealing with explicitly supernatural threats.
To Shaw's frustration, the organisation was undermanned she and Lou Bayliss were "two... doing the work of twenty" (and Bayliss was transferred in 1995), suffering funding shortages and government disinterest. In 1994, she noted that handing a case over to the police would lose P.R.O.B.E. all its funding; and in 1995, it seemed like the body may be shut down altogether by new boss Brian Rutherford. All of this was not what she'd been promised when hired. (HOMEVID: The Zero Imperative, The Devil of Winterborne)
She befriended P.R.O.B.E's ministry liaison Patricia Haggard and the two became quite close.
Haggard would be overseeing P.R.O.B.E. by 1997. Despite this, Liz still had little support and in an unguarded moment would imply Haggard was giving her little support as well. (HOMEVID: Ghosts of Winterborne)
While she continued her involvement with P.R.O.B.E., (HOMEVID: When to Die) she was again working for UNIT by the early 21st century. (TV: Death of the Doctor, PROSE: Eternity Weeps) Liz lived together and was in a relationship with Patricia Haggard, a colleague at P.R.O.B.E. (HOMEVID: When to Die)
One account held that in 2003 Liz was part of a UNIT team which investigated an artefact left by the alien Cthalctose on the Moon. As a result, she contracted Agent Yellow and died. (PROSE: Eternity Weeps)
In others, Liz was still alive in the 2010s. UNIT personnel said Liz was unable to attend the Eleventh Doctor's fake funeral as she was at the UNIT Moonbase and could not return until the following Sunday. (TV: Death of the Doctor) In 2015, she was part of a P.R.O.B.E. operation regarding Corporal 7891Alpha. (HOMEVID: When to Die)
At some point during her life, Liz had children and granddaughter Elizabeth Holub, and long after her mother's death, Elizabeth worked alongside the Seventh Doctor to prevent an attack on the city of Prague in 2050. (PROSE: Fable Fusion)
At some point, Liz was taken to the Black Archive by UNIT to have her record as a companion of the Doctor taken. Her memories of the visit were subsequently erased and she was sent on her way. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
In another, following the death of that dimensions's version of the Third Doctor, she managed to survive into the early 1990s on an Earth devastated by the victorious Silurians and their virus. (PROSE: Blood Heat)
Behind the Scenes
Liz Shaw is the first companion following the show's move to colour and the earliest companion without any missing episodes.