Wendy Padbury (1992)

There’ll be a longer Wendy Padbury interview in a few days, but until then here she is talking about getting the role of Zoe, her fondness for Patrick Troughton and, of course, her memories of practical jokes on the ‘Doctor Who’ set.

“I was sent by my agent as a horribly out of work young actress to interview for the part of Zoe, along with probably the rest of London, all those of us who were sort of five foot nothing and young, which led then to a recall and another recall and another recall until they whittled us down to about six of us, and we were sent a script of just a page of dialogue which had just one small speech. Every single emotion that you could possibly imagine. And each girl had to learn this piece, and we went to the studio and recorded it, and the camera was just on our eyes and I can remember we had to stand on a spot and we couldn’t move, and it was all on the eyes, good job it wasn’t on the knees because my knees were knocking. And they chose me!

“I didn’t personally have any reservations whatsoever, for the simple reason that Pat Troughton was and always has been my very favourite actors, especially as a child. I used to watch him in all those Sunday afternoon dramas, and the thought of working with Pat was brill. And then the character itself was such fun, from what I’d seen of ‘Doctor Who’ before I went into it the girls tended to scream a lot and Zoe wasn’t quite like that to begin with. She was this very clever astrophysicist, she just wasn’t a screamer, she was able, especially in later episodes, to say to the Doctor ‘Leave this to me, I can sort this out’. She did do a fair amount of screaming, but she was great to play. I think in ‘The Wheel in Space’, my first story, Eric Flynn called Zoe ‘all brain and no heart’, which I thought was great!

“One of the most embarrassing moments actually happened during rehearsals of one of the Cyberman stories, I think I’d had a late night and I came into the rehearsal room not looking my best. Pat, Frazer and I were sat down learning our lines for a scene, and I was wearing a kilt, quite a short kilt, and Pat and Frazer sat either side of me. I have to say here that we were rehearsing in a church hall, which is quite relevant to the story. So we sat down, and because I’d had a late night I sort of nodded off, and suddenly I got two elbows in my ribs, with Pat and Frazer either side of me, saying ‘Quick, quick, you’re on!’, and I shot out of my chair and they’d undone the kilt, so I shot into the rehearsal room in my knickers. I was so embarrassed, I ran out of the doors and bumped into the vicar. I curtsied and ran into the ladies toilets.

“I remember the end of ‘The Wheel in Space’ really well, because it was when I went off to join Patrick and Frazer in their adventures. And Patrick was trying to put me off, really, he put that thing on his head where the thought processes came out and onto a screen, and he said ‘I’m not sure you’ll want to come with us, Zoe, have you ever heard of the Daleks?’. I think having met the Cybermen, she’d have loved to have gone anywhere after that, to meet anything.

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