Archive for the ‘Wendy Padbury’ Category

Wendy Padbury (2009)

February 15, 2010

Here’s Wendy Padbury, Zoe in the late 60’s, talking about her work as an agent and, in particular, how she first met a young actor named Matt Smith, who she signed up and who… well, you know the rest!

“I’ve always been a massive supporter of the National Youth Theatre in London, which is a school where kids from all over the country go and perform. They do a course, you can’t be more than 20 or 21. They do productions in London. And they were doing this production of a very difficult play, called ‘Master and Marguerita’, which is quite something for kids to take on. They varied in age from 14 to 20. And I went along to watch, and there was this guy onstage, I couldn’t take my eyes off him, and I thought ‘He is absolutely fantastic, this boy’, and he was playing a very, very gay character – nothing wrong with being gay! – but he was so outrageously camp, and you had to think that if someone’s that camp, how difficult is that going to be for other work?

“So I decided, after the show, to go to the bar and wait for all these kids to come out and just see, and he – Matt Smith – came out, and he quite clearly was not gay. In fact, every girl who came out was going ‘Hi, Matt’, they adored him… So I went up to him and I said ‘Hi, Matt, you don’t know me but I’m an agent and I don’t know what your plans are for the future’, because a lot of kids at the National Youth Theatre aren’t there to become actors in the future, some are there just to have the experience in their youth. So I asked Matt and he said ‘Yeah’, and I said ‘Well I’d love to have a chat with you’, and he said ‘I’d love to’, so we arranged to meet the next day.

“And the next morning, I went into the office and I said to the girls ‘There’s this gorgeous boy coming in, you’re going to love him’, and in walked Matt Smith and he is gorgeous, he’s quite quirky-looking but he has that ability as a young man – this is a girl thing, by the way – to actually sit in front of you and look at you, and you’re the only person in the room. That’s a very attractive quality. And he’s charming and intelligent and bright. And while he was there, I said ‘I’d love to take you on’.

“I then wrote to his university, because he was doing a university course, because – and this is what happens for actors, it’s always about timing – the very next day, the casting director from the Royal Court called me up and said ‘Help us, we’re doing this play, we’re looking for an actor who can be about 16, do a New York accent, and obviously is really good’. I said ‘I’ve got Matt Smith’, she said ‘I don’t know who that is’, I said ‘Well you won’t, he only came yesterday. I have no photos to send you, no CV, nothing’, and she said ‘I don’t care, I want to meet him’. I think they were so desperate, they’d have taken my mother. So I phoned Matt and said ‘Can you do a New York accent?’ and he said ‘Yeah, I can, actually’, so I said ‘You’ve got an appointment on Monday’. He got the script, worked on it over the weekend, and went on Monday. He probably hadn’t even left the building when they phoned and said ‘He. Is. Fantastic’, and of course he got the job.

“He was amazed, I mean, how lucky to get that job straight away! He’s done the National now, he’s done so much work, he worked with Billie Piper… and I’ve never had a young client like that before, where nobody knew him, and my job was to take casting directors to meet and see clients that they don’t know, and I’ve never stood at the National before, surrounded by casting directors, with them saying ‘Oh my God, he’s brilliant, where did you find him?’. And the rest is history, really.

“I live in France now, so it takes a while for news to filter through. I got a phone call from someone, actually it was Charlie, saying ‘Have you heard about Matt? Have you heard about the new Doctor Who?’. I said ‘No’, they said ‘It’s Matt’. I went ‘Oh my God!’, I couldn’t believe it! I know people have concerns about his youth, but there’s no question about his talent and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll do a brilliant job. So I hope you’ll be gentle with him, because I think you’ll love him, I really do.”

Wendy Padbury (1986)

October 2, 2009

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”.

Wendy Padbury (1992)

September 4, 2009

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.