Posts Tagged ‘Leela’

Louise Jameson (1977)

August 18, 2009

Another Louise Jameson interview, this time from 1977 when she was still on the show. The interviewer is Noel Edmonds, the show is ‘The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop’.

Q: How’s it going? How’s the involvement with the show going?

A: It’s fine, it’s going very well. It’s very hard work, that’s why I caught glandular fever. I got run down.

Q: We wanted you on the programme a few weeks ago.

A: That’s right. I’ve had a tremendous amount of Get Well Soon cards. Thank you very much to whoever send those.

Q: Do you find it tiring?

A: I find television acting, in a way, more tiring than stage acting, because you’ve got to keep the impetus going that much longer. On the stage, you start at eight o’clock, you go through to eleven, that’s your work. With television, sometimes you come in at eight o’clock in the morning, you don’t leave until eleven o’clock at night.

Q: The stop-go, is that the tiring element?

A: Yes. Two minutes you’ve got to be right there, then a five minute break, then two minutes again.

Q: How did you get involved in the profession in the first place?

A: It’s a very difficult question to answer, that one. There’s a kind of do-or-die element in it, you’ve just got to feel that you’re not capable of doing anything else.

Q: When you were at school was acting always your ambition?

A: Always. Well my original ambition at the age of four was to be a tiller girl, which I never quite got together, but I’ve always wanted to be a performer of some sort.

Q: So what did you do before ‘Doctor Who’?

A: Mostly theatre. I did two and a half years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, toured to America and played in Stratford and down in London. And I did a secretarial course before that, which my parents forced me into, which I’m very grateful for now but at the time it was a bore.

Q: What made you audition for the ‘Doctor Who’ legend?

A: Well I always watched it as a child. It started when I was about eleven, but I never dreamt I’d be on it. Career-wise it was important to do a series, and this part just happened to land at the right time for me.

Q: We had Tom on the programme and he said that wherever he goes people call him Dr. Who, refer to him as Dr. Who. How much has the programme altered your lifestyle?

A: In a way the private life at the weekend’s been mucked up. I’ve been amazed at the amount of publicity I’ve got from it. But I haven’t been recognised in the street.

Q: Well you’ve got clothes on.

A: Speaking of clothes, I got this lovely letter, ‘Please could you start putting clothes on, love from Katherine’ so I have a message, in a couple of weeks’ time we go into Victorian London and I wear so many clothes I can hardly move.

Q: When you joined the programme there was quite a lot of talk about you appealing to the dads. How did you feel about that at the time?

A: Well the producer said he wanted to expand from children to an adult audience. I mean basically the show if for children, it’s an adventure story.

Q: It has a very large adult audience.

A: Yes, I think it’s something like 60-40 it weighs out and I think a lot of the parents say ‘Well the kids like to watch it, so I will’.

Louise Jameson (2006)

August 18, 2009

This is the ‘Doctor Who’ part from a great and quite lengty interview with Louise Jameson, in which she discusses her feelings about Leela, about acting in general, about the various writers who she feels were best at writing for Leela, and about the time John Nathan-Turner asked her to return to the show for a season.

Q: What were your preparations for Leela? I know you had a story that you watched your dog, or something?

A: Although Leela was uneducated, I didn’t want to make her stupid so I looked around for creatures that were uneducated but intelligent. One was my dog, who’s sadly no longer with us, and one was the little girl who lived upstairs, Sally, highly intelligent but of course hadn’t gone through any education, so there were my role models. I only used little things, like a twist of the head when I heard something, holding the breath, animal instinctive qualities. I also wanted her to not have an accent but to have slightly careful speech, and I took out all the apostrophes so instead of wasn’t, was not, instead of couldn’t, could not, just slightly studied, slightly archaic.

Q: And I know people say Tom Baker was difficult to work with, and he didn’t like Leela at first, but you’ve said you admired his professionalism and the fact that both Tom and you are are top of things, playing it totally straight.

A: It’s a very Stanislavsky approach I have to all my work, be it Shakespeare or Noel Coward or indeed ‘Doctor Who’, it’s something that… what would this character want out of this moment, what is my objective? It’s like life, you always want something. Like I want to talk to you, but there’s an obstacle, perhaps I’m not explaining myself very well so I try to do it very clearly. There’s a very direct desire in everything you do, and Leela’s desire was for knowledge, she was like a sponge, like a piece of blotting paper, she was thirty for knowledge, and I think one of the exciting things, when the writer had that in mind, like Bob Holmes was my favourite, when he had that knowledge that’s what Leela wanted, and that desire was fed into the adventure, that was terrific. When I was just written as ‘an assistant’, when the speeches become interchangeable…

Q: That’s something they often do in ‘Doctor Who’. The motivation for Leela really made sense, she was used to mystical concepts, things weren’t so mind-blowing for her.

A: That’s a lovely scene, where he tries to explain it, takes it away, it’s perspective. I wish there’d been more of that.

Q: Even the bit where you’re playing with the yo-yo is great too. How much of the character did you have input into?

A: Well it depended very much on the director. Because my knowledge of Leela was greater than anyone else’s, usually what I said went. But as an assistant you had to be pretty accommodating, it’s not like you were the driving force, making the decisions.

Q: On shows like ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, people like Michael Dorn have said they had input and they’d be doing things they didn’t think the character would do and they’d not be listened to and they’d give up and let it go.

A: It was a pretty lengthy process if you wanted a line change. You told the director, who told the producer, who’d get the executive producer, who’d phone the writer, who’d phone back…

Q: It wasn’t just the director?

A: Not really. You kind of learned to play the system, so you might go in one day and say ‘I’ve just had a thought about this line’, sidestep the paraphernalia. If it was a request that you thought might be rejected, you just had to be careful who you asked.

Q: Or you might ask for ten different things, and the one thing you wanted the most…

A: I was very emphatic, I really didn’t want to scream.

Q: David Jansen, who starred in ‘The Fugitive’, said ask for everything you can think of, and you’ll get half.

A: Did he? I thought he was a wonderful actor.

Q: Writers from your era like Bob Holmes and Chris Boucher did the best for your character. She had witty comebacks and so on, like in ‘The Robots of Death’ kicking Uvanov. In their stories, there was more focus on the actual character of Leela, someone who just used straight head-on logic.

A: No manipulation, just who she was. I really liked that. I loved being her, and I loved Blanche in ‘Tenko’ and Rosa Di Marco in ‘Eastenders’ for the same reasons.

Q: How did you feel about the way she was written out?

A: It was a way of getting rid of a woman, have her fall in love. I had taken a very deliberate career decision to leave the series, I didn’t want to stay in it too long, and I’d been offered ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at Bristol Old Vic, which was a marvellous opportunity that I grabbed with both hands, with very little experience. I think in retrospect John Nathan-Turner asked me to go back in for a season and I said that I’d go back for maybe two or three stories but I didn’t want to do a whole season, and I think in retrospect that was a mistake.