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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 517 > Victoria’s Secrets

Victoria’s Secrets

Deborah Watling was at a turning point in her life when she took part in this candid and largely unseen interview about her long association with Doctor Who.
Deborah Watling and Michael Stevens on 27 March 1990.
Photo © Michael Stevens.

Way back in the misty past, when I was nobbut but a callow youth applying for a place at drama school, I wrote to Deborah Watling care of the Birmingham Rep theatre. She was appearing in a production of Flare Path by Terence Rattigan, and I requested an interview, ostensibly for a sci-fi fanzine called Temporal Physics. Deborah agreed without hesitation, and so on Tuesday 27 March 1990 I went along to meet her, roping in my friend Colin, who took photographs with my camera while I – somewhat tentatively – asked the questions.

Deborah was 42 years old and clearly restless about her career. “I’m desperately trying to fight my way back into TV,” she admitted. “I’m just grateful I’ve got to the age when I can get into character parts and not play the pretty girl next door, or the little tarty one with the blonde hair and all that bit, sticking the front out, you know. I don’t want to do any more of that, I want to actually play characters. I’m a bit too old now to play the juve or the girl next door, let’s face it. But people still think of me like that, so I’m trying to convince the people in the profession that I can do something else now. My ideal part would be Cleopatra, but they look at me and think, ‘Well, she’s a five-foot, bubbly girl, she can’t play Cleopatra.’ I say, ‘Give me a chance, I can.’ I’m a jobbing actress, so I’ll do anything I’m asked to do. Keep the mortgage going, you know!”

Deborah’s father Jack had been part of the original cast of Flare Path when it first opened in 1942. “Acting is a way of life,” said Deborah. “I grew up in an acting family, and I thought this was normal, because I never knew anything else. I always knew at the back of my mind that I was actually going to be an actress. I had a mental aberration for about three weeks, when I was around 12, and I thought, ‘I want to be a dentist!’ You see, I’m only five feet tall, and one of the first things you notice when you meet people are their teeth. But I looked into it and I thought, ‘No, no, I can’t pass all those exams, I think I’ll stick to being an actress!’”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

ISSUE 517 OF DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF THE SEVENTH DOCTOR WITH SYLVESTER McCOY! Thirty years after he first appeared as the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy reflects on the role that changed his life... Also this issue: DEBORAH WATLING TRIBUTE DWM remembers the late Deborah Watling, who played the Second Doctor's companion Victoria from 1967 to 1978, with contributions from Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Frazer Hines. VICTORIA'S SECRETS A previously unpublished interview with Deborah Watling from 1990. VICTOR PEMBERTON TRIBUTE Remembering the late Doctor Who writer and story editor Victor Pemberton. GAIL BENNETT An interview with original American Doctor Who superfan Gail Bennett. FURY FROM THE DEEP This month's Fact of Fiction explores 1968's Fury from the Deep, the last story to feature Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield. THE PARLIAMENT OF FEAR Part Three of our brand-new comic strip adventure, The Parliament of Fear, featuring the Doctor and Bill; written by Scott Gray and illustrated by Mike Collins. DOMINIC GLYNN The composer recalls writing and recording the score for 1989's Survival. THE TIME TEAM The Time Team continues its mission to watch every episode of Doctor Who with 2012's The Doctor's Wife. PLUS! Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, prize-winning competitions and much, much more.
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