Wendy Padbury (1986)

Here’s Wendy Padbury talking about joining the show as Zoe, the temptation to remain for Jon Pertwee’s first season, and her subsequent role in the ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ stage play.

“I auditioned for ‘Doctor Who’ along with the rest of the world and his wife! I went and queued with all these girls. I think about a week later I was called back and then the week after that, with fewer and fewer other girls each time. It got down to about half a dozen of us and then it was almost like a screen test. We were sent a page of dialogue to learn, and the test was done at Lime Grove – it may well have been on the set of another story. We were given a mark to stand on and you had to say these lines of dialogue, which didn’t actually make sense, as they weren’t out of anything. The first one was a laugh line, the next was a sad line, the next tears – all these emotions in a page of dialogue!

“A couple of days later I got a phone call from my agent saying ‘They’d like you to do the job, so I said ‘All right then, that’s wonderful’. An hour later she phoned me back. I’d already been for another interview for the film of ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’, and I’d got that as well! For the next forty-eight hours, I gave my agent hell. I kept phoning and saying ‘I’ll do Doctor Who’, with her saying ‘Are you sure?’. I’d say ‘Yes’, and then I’d think about ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’, how good it could be, and I’d phone back and say I’d changed my mind. This went on and in the end I think she said that ‘Doctor Who’ would probably be better in the long run, so ‘Doctor Who’ it was.

“Tristan de Vere Cole directed ‘The Wheel in Space’ and he was a great help, because obviously I was the new girl and scared. I looked to him and he helped me a lot. The other nice thing about ‘Doctor Who’ was that with each story, it wasn’t just a new director coming in, it was a new everybody, so after that first one, I wasn’t the new girl, I was the old girl! I liked Zoe to start off with, because I think she was slightly different from a couple of the others, who screamed a lot. She was an astro-physicist and was supposed to know what was what – she was fairly intelligent. Sadly, I think with each consecutive story it was watered down, until I became a screamer again.

“I liked the Ice Warriors – they really gave me the creeps. I don’t know why. I’d sit in make-up with the guys who played them having coffee, and waiting for their make-up to go on, which took hours. But as soon as we started recording one, they really gave me the creeps.

“We never went anywhere terribly glamorous. We did go to Brighton rubbish dump, which was really nice! It was always nice to go away filming, though, it gave you time to think, because it’s much slower, much more like rehearse / record. Everyone was cold – we were filming in constant rain for ‘The Krotons’. There were rats crawling around that you wouldn’t believe! I had a mini-skirt on and my dresser used to bring her fur coat. There was a little bottle of brandy in the pocket, which believe me you needed – it was freezing.

“I remember very little about ‘The Dominators’. I remember Ronnie Allen and I remember the director, Morris Barry. I found him a bit suffocating – we weren’t really allowed to come up with any ideas on that one, we were just told to get on and do it.

“The Mind Robber was my favourite story – there were lots of problems with the script and Frazer got chicken pox and it was all so hectic we just ploughed through it all. But Emrys James was wonderful, and so was David Maloney, who directed lots of my episodes. I really loved that one – I remember the toy soliders, the forest of trees which were like a maze of letters and the set where everything was white.

“I really thought as Pat and Frazer were going, it just couldn’t be the same, so I thought it was an ideal time to leave, really. I’d had no set idea of how I wanted to do it – I can’t even remember how one was contracted at the time. I think we had various contracts along the way and the three of us came to an end at the same time.

“Seven Keys to Doomsday was pretty spectacular. It was very, very technical. Probably now, with shows like ‘Time’, it wouldn’t be that impressive, but for then it was quite an amazing show, and Trevor Martin was a lovely Doctor. There wasn’t a lot of time to rehearse, which was a bit of a problem. There were loads of things that could have gone wrong. We used hundreds of back projections and once started, they couldn’t stop. They were all operated on word cues, so you knew if you forgot the line and you didn’t give the poor guy who started the machine the cue, then forget it! Unfoartunately, we didn’t last long. I’m sure we would have run longer had it not been a bad time in the West End – IRA bombs were going off and coachloads were cancelling as people became too frightened to come into town. It was sad, because we knew we had a good show and we were going to go on tour, but we never did”.

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