DOCTOR WHO: Companion Pieces - Victoria Waterfield - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO: Companion Pieces - Victoria Waterfield

Christopher Morley looks back at the Second Doctor's companion Victoria Waterfield and the actress who portrayed her, Deborah Watling.

Evil Of The Daleks is quite rightly remembered as a classic - both as a great example of the Doctor battling his greatest foes & as an adventure in general. It's also a momentous occasion for Victoria Waterfield - not only does she lose her antique dealer father Edward, his death at the gunstalks of the Daleks leaving her an orphan, but she gains a new home when she embarks upon a new chapter of her life travelling in the TARDIS alongside the Second Doctor & Jamie.

Initially taken hostage so that her father will co-operate (his partner Theodore Maxtible proving a lot greedier & thus more than willing to collaborate) she's rescued by McCrimmon & a Turkish manservant named Kemel. In joining up with the lovable moptop & the Scot it could be said that she forms a new surrogate family of sorts (the Doctor replacing her father & Jamie becoming a brother figure).

By the time of The Abominable Snowmen life would come to imitate art, Deborah Watling joined by her father Jack (in the role of Professor Travers) for the d├ębut outing of the Great Intelligence. Frustratingly, as with much of the Second's era, this adventure is incomplete, with five of the six episodes missing, but missing or not almost every one of the stories in which Victoria features are fondly remembered. Not surprising when alongside the aforementioned the roll-call reads The Tomb Of The Cybermen, The Ice Warriors, The Enemy Of The World (rediscovered in Nigeria in 2013 alongside another Victoria adventure, that being...), The Web Of Fear, and Fury From The Deep...

Why does she leave after the battle with the 'Weed Creature'? Simple - she wants something approaching a normal family life, and so stays behind with Frank & Maggie Harris while Two & Jamie continue onwards & upwards through the universe in 'Sexy'. Seven stories & out.

Perhaps on account of that in retrospect incredibly short run, Victoria has a similarly meagre list of novel appearances - in the Missing Adventures series she's part of Twilight Of The Gods & The Dark Path, while the Past Doctor Adventures feature her in Dreams Of Empire (reprinted as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations), Heart Of TARDIS & Combat Rock.

There's a nice callback to her in Pyramids Of Mars, though, as Sarah-Jane Smith enters the control room in one of Ms Waterfield's old dresses...

...without even looking up the Fourth Doctor addresses her as 'Vicky' in what must pass for a senior moment before telling her that Victoria used to wear it. Isn't that nice?

Ms Watling would return to read two Companion Chronicles audio dramas (The Great Space Elevator & The Emperor Of Eternity) while her 2010 book Daddy's Girl looks back fondly on her time as a member of the Who crew, the joys of working alongside her father as well as containing the revelation that she received her first kiss from a fellow actor by the name of Michael Craze (aka Ben Jackson, the man who alongside Anneke Wills's Polly Wright served as the First Doctor's last/Second's first companions).

Deborah Watling had acted since childhood, her first recurring role coming in the 1958 Invisible Man TV series as Sally Wilson, niece of the titular Invisible Man. By 1965 she had appeared in a BBC Wednesday Play as Alice in playwright Dennis Potter's adaptation of Alice In Wonderland. Post-Who she took many stage roles over the years, covering comedy, farce and pantomime - a turn as Dorothy in a 1971-2 West End production of The Wizard Of Oz being one of the most notable. On screen you may have seen her in the role of Norma in Danger UXB, the female lead opposite Cliff Richard in the 1974 musical comedy Take Me High and in the David Essex film That'll Be The Day. From police box time machine to Silver Dream Machine, you might say!

Deborah Watling & Ringo Starr in That'll Be The Day

She later found the time to return to Who in the Fifth Doctor audio Three's A Crowd, in which she played 'Auntie' - not to be confused with the one from The Doctor's Wife! Ms Watling appeared in the 30th Anniversary 'celebration' Dimensions In Time, as well as the far better received 50th Anniversary special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

She also earlier returned to the role of Victoria Waterfield for the unofficial 'wilderness years' adventure Downtime. The 1995 BBV production also saw Nicholas Courtney, Deborah's father Jack Watling and Elisabeth Sladen reprising their roles as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Professor Edward Travers and Sarah Jane Smith, respectively. Featuring the Yeti, it also acts as something of a sequel to the Second Doctor serials The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. Among the cast you'll also find John Leeson (one time voice of K-9), and Geoffrey 'crispy Master' Beevers.

So even though Deborah Watling had a successful career outside of Doctor Who on both stage and screen, the series and Victoria never really left her. In fact, right up to her passing in July 2017, six weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer, she frequently attended fan conventions and was on hand for a reaction when The Enemy Of The World & The Web Of Fear were unearthed & reissued...

Alongside Tomb Of The Cybermen, that and Enemy are her only two Doctor Who stories to her name which now exist in their entirety (Web still missing one episode), although some of the others are now being animated with the existing off-air audio tracks from the original broadcasts. Her swansong, Fury From The Deep, will be arriving later in 2020...

The actress remembers her time on the serial fondly, as she told Doctor Who Magazine...
"We were filming ‘Fury From the Deep’ on my birthday, and it was in the depths of winter as usual. Pat and Frazer knew it was my birthday, so during a take when I was supposed to be standing still they came up to me and gave me the bumps. We were using loads of foam in that story, and after they’d given me the bumps they threw me straight into it. I was covered from head to toe in the stuff, and not just foam but sand as well, all in this freezing cold and on my birthday too!"
And Ms Watling's reasons for leaving...
"I knew that I’d like to do a year when I joined. I also knew that they’d have liked me to do more than that, but I decided to go. I thought it was time, so I gave three months notice. You see, I’d learned a lot about television and I felt I had to get out and into the theatre to learn something about that. They did try pretty hard to keep me on – I was already in the next six storylines – but no, I had to go.
It was terribly sad, like the end of an era for me."
The end of a era indeed. But as Doctor Who has proved over the last 56 years, as one era ends another begins.

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