Doctor Who: Companion Pieces - SARA KINGDOM

Christopher Morley looks back at the First Doctor's brief companion, Sara Kingdom, and the actress who portrayed her, Jean Marsh.

The early years of Doctor Who had of course been full of firsts. Jean Marsh's Sara Kingdom, though, would become a notable second- that is, the second of the First Doctor's companions to die, after Katarina.

Anyone wondering if they'd seen the actress somewhere before would be right in assuming they had, too! For she had also appeared in the pure historical The Crusade playing Princess Joanna, sister of King Richard the Lionheart.

Of course, he attempts to marry her off to Saphadin.........
JOANNA: What's this I hear? I can't believe it's true. Marriage to that heathenish man, that infidel?
RICHARD: We will give you reasons for it.
JOANNA: This unconsulted partner has no wish to marry. I am no sack of flour to be given in exchange.
RICHARD: It is expedient, the decision has been made.
JOANNA: Not by me, and never would be.
RICHARD: Joanna, please consider. The war is full of weary, wounded men. This marriage wants a little thought by you, that's all, then you'll see the right of it.
JOANNA: And how would you have me go to Saphadin? Bathed in oriental perfume, I suppose? Suppliant, tender and affectionate? Soft-eyed and trembling, eager with a thousand words of compliment and love? Well, I like a different way to meet the man I am to wed!
RICHARD: Well, if it's a meeting you want.
JOANNA: I do not want! I will not have it!
On the subject of matrimony, Ms Marsh was wed to Third Doctor Jon Pertwee for five years from 1955-60 before their divorce.

Following her appearance as Joanna, she would return to Doctor Who as Sara, a Space Security Service agent who eventually works to bring about the defeat of The Daleks' Master Plan after discovering Mavic Chen's treachery.
STEVEN: But he was the one person who could have warned Earth.
SARA: So you say.
STEVEN: You killed Bret! You just shot him down.
SARA: He was a traitor. Between the three of you, you had stolen the taranium, the most valuable mineral in the universe. It was needed desperately to spread the peace which was founded in the solar system, to reach the whole galaxy.
STEVEN: What was the taranium going to do?
SARA: How should I know? I had my orders.
STEVEN: Your orders. And even though it meant killing one of your own people, you obeyed them blindly, without question?
SARA: One does not question the orders of the Guardian.
STEVEN: You didn't stop to think how it came to happen that a space security agent, one of your own people, was a traitor?
STEVEN: You didn't give Bret a chance, did you. You couldn't question Chen and you wouldn't question Bret.
SARA: Look, what do you want me to say? That I believe your fantastic story?
STEVEN: It's true.
SARA: It mustn't be.
DOCTOR: I'm afraid it is, my dear.

And the man she'd just shot down was her brother Bret Vyon, also a fellow agent!

He was played by the late Nicholas Courtney, who would later return to portray Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart opposite both Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor and Jean's ex-husband's Third.

She would later have chance to work with him again when she portrayed the Arthurian sorceress Morgaine in Battlefield, with the Brig aiding Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor.

It would seem the Doctor was Merlin, though he's a bit vague as to when he might have assumed the mantle of the famed wizard! Morgaine knows him of old, though.
MORDRED: Mother, Merlin is here.
MORGAINE: Yes, I can feel his presence.
MORDRED: He has a new countenance.
MORGAINE: He has worn many faces. Merlin, hear me.
And back to the one he wore in 1966, when after orederin his companions back to the TARDIS for their protection, the Doctor intended to activate the Time Destructor to stop the Daleks. However, Sara followed him, and was caught in the field of the Time Destructor. Being a human rather than a Time Lord, she horrifically aged to death in front of Steven and the Doctor. The duo watching helplessly as she turned to dust.

What does Ms Marsh remember of her main roles on Who?...

...She expanded a little on this, too-
"I can’t really remember my first ‘Doctor Who’ part, as King Richard’s sister, although I knew Douglas Camfield directed it. Then he asked me to play this ‘Avengers’-style space pilot or something. I don’t know how I ever did it because I spent most of the time laughing along with Bill Hartnell and Peter Purves. They used to send me off the set and say I could only come back when I’d calmed down, which I never did.

The whole thing looked very glamorous and good on television, but in the studio I thought it was a disaster. Knobs would came away in your hands and the Daleks weren’t exactly impressive to see in real life. But I really enjoyed doing the series because it was so exciting to make, and the best work you do are always the ones that are the most fun.

I had a wonderful death scene, filmed before I did anything else in the story. I was aged to death, which was done really well. I remember a darling old lady playing my final moments, but dressed in this slinky Space Police outfit and looking really good in it!

Although I was only in that one, very long story, I always gets lots of fan mail about it. I was so pleased to do another one, playing a wicked queen in the last series. The story was called ‘Battlefield’ and I got to be very wicked but actually very intelligent and rounded, as characters go. I’m very grateful for that."
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