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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 52: Costume Design > The Duchess of Chelsea

The Duchess of Chelsea

Polly embodied the sophisticated, self-assured glamour of Swinging Sixties London. This was a scene familiar to actress Anneke Wills…

In March and April 1966, production was under way on the Doctor Who story The Celestial Toymaker, with Michael Gough as the titular villain. Having been introduced to Gough’s then-wife Anneke Wills, producer Innes Lloyd invited her to discuss a potential role in the series.

At the time, Lloyd was keen to make Doctor Who more directly relevant to viewers and had just commissioned the first story to be wholly set on contemporary Earth, with the Doctor interacting with people of the day. The new story, The War Machines (1966), would introduce two new companions reflecting the times – working-class Londoner Ben Jackson and fashion-conscious secretary Polly, whom Ben thought so posh he nicknamed her ‘Duchess’.

“I wore a beautiful beige-and-cream knitted top to my interview,” Anneke Wills remembers. “It was the best thing I owned at the time. I can’t remember where it came from but it made the right impression.” She and Michael Craze – cast as Ben – were contracted for four serials on 26 May, by which time production had already begun on The War Machines. On 10 June, there was a press call for the two new companions at Riverside Studios, with Craze in the merchant navy uniform he wore in the story and Anneke in the knitted top from her interview.

For the story itself, Anneke wore something even more striking. The Marimekko fashion house was founded in Finland in 1951; the simple, bold stripes favoured by designer Vuokko Nurmesniemi were made famous in the US and UK when Jacqueline Kennedy wore Marimekko outfits throughout the 1960 presidential campaign. “Marimekko was all wonderful hand-printed fabrics, on cotton,” says Anneke. “They were very far out and so very few people wore them – but I did.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Few television programmes make the same production demands as Doctor Who. With such diverse settings as distant points in Earth’s history and alien civilisations in the far future, the series has always stretched the ingenuity – and resources – of its talented costume designers. This unprecedented magazine features numerous rare and previously unpublished illustrations showing how the look of a Doctor Who episode evolves from sketch to screen, plus exclusive interviews with many of those designers including: • Alexandra Tynan (costume designer in the 1960s who created the look of the Cybermen) • Barbara Lane (the designer of Azal, Alpha Centauri, the Axons and more – this is her first interview in over 40 years) • Lee Bender (designer and owner of Bus Stop, a boutique which supplied outfits for Sarah Jane Smith) • June Hudson (designer of the Fourth Doctor’s final outfit and many elegant costumes for Romana) • Colin Lavers (designer of the Fifth Doctor’s costume) • Amy Roberts (designer of Anthony Ainley’s Master) • Lucinda Wright (designer of Christopher Eccleston’s series as the Ninth Doctor) • Howard Burden (designer of the Twelfth Doctor’s costume) • Ray Holman (designer of the Eleventh and Thirteenth Doctor’s costumes, and Doctor Who’s current costume designer) Plus, the stars who wore the designers’ creations in Doctor Who look back at their characters’ clothes: • Anneke Wills (Polly) • Katy Manning (Jo Grant) • Sophie Aldred (Ace) • Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler) • Catrin Stewart (Jenny Flint)