Exclusive Interview: Anneke Wills

February 14th, 2013

As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations we’re delighted to bring you our interview with actress Anneke Wills!

In the 1960’s, Anneke starred opposite the First and Second Doctors as vivacious companion Polly.

As one of the original TARDIS residents, she was there for the very first regeneration. She chatted exclusively to us about her thoughts on working alongside William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton and her memories of time and space.

We’d like to say huge thanks to Anneke for taking the time out to answer our questions!

Q. Hi, Anneke. Firstly, how did your role in Doctor Who come about?
A. I was already well known to the BBC having previously worked for them 14 years on their screens. When they were looking for a 60’s chick, I was the obvious choice!

Q. Were you always interested in acting during your time growing up?
A. Yes. In fact, when I got my first film part aged 10, I knew I had discovered what I wanted to do. I got a scholarship to an acting school. It’s in my autobiography, ‘Self Portrait’, available via my website!

Q) You joined Doctor Who in the 1960’s. What was the public perception of the show was like back then?
A. It was immensely popular. Whenever we were out filming, the public were always very warm towards us – especially, of course, to the Doctor. Then, as now, it was great for us actor to say we had got a part in Doctor Who. We also had huge names and highly acclaimed actors joining us.

Q. What was it about the show and the role of Polly that appealed to you?
A. The money! As a working actor, it was good to be in a series. Also, I was allowed to mold the character of Polly really close to myself. I even wore my own clothes and my own make up!

Q. What was life like at the BBC back then?
A. Life at the BBC was like one huge family. Interestingly though, we never watched any of our episodes – ever!

Q. The Classic Series still has an extremely loyal following – would you recommend your serials to modern day audiences interested in delving into the Doctor’s earlier days?
A. I think it is hugely important to see the ‘roots’, as it were – the journey Doctor Who has made to become what it is today.

Q. Speaking of Doctor Who’s fanbase, what are your own experiences with meeting Doctor Who fans?
A. Over the years they have become like real friends – they are some of the kindest people and, of course, the older ones are now making the new Doctor Who.

Q).What are your memories of working with the cast and crew?
A.Bill was hard to be with – ‘irascible’ is the word. Patrick was inspirational as he worked to find his feet in order to inhabit the role. We spent our lunches in the Television Centre bar and our table was always the most dynamic – people would gather around to share in the laughter and political discussions. Later, the discussions between me, Pat and Mike (Michael Craze, who played companion Ben Jackson) would move to Finches pub. A pint was something Pat came to value highly – his ‘reality check’, and he trusted Mike and me to tell him it like it was.

Q. Are you a fan of the revived series? Would you say the role of the ‘companion’ (in terms of their attitudes, what they stand for, etc…) has changed considerably over the years?
A. Oh yes, I am a huge fan of the revived series! I wouldn’t miss it! The companions have come ‘modern’ women, and, of course, as such as they get to kiss the Doctor. That is something that my character would never have done – at least, not on screen!

Q. You’ve returned to the Doctor Who universe for many audio adventures over the years. What’s it like stepping back into Ace’s shoes in front of a microphone as opposed to in front of a camera?
A. It is unimaginable fun! After all, it was hat I was trained to do all those years ago. Of course the shoes still fit perfectly!

Q. As Doctor Who enters its 50th year, what do you think are the main distinguishing factors that have contributed to its ongoing success?
A. It’s just a magic formula and I’m sure it will endure for as long as there is TV. There will always be fans who become the writers, directors and actors of the show. It progresses through all of our lives!

Q. Finally, how does it feel to have played a big part in the show’s history? Do you look back on your TARDIS tenure with pride?
A. Absolutely I do! It is an honour to have been there at the very first regeneration and to have met the Cybermen for the first time they were seen. Considering most of my stories were wiped, I’m gratefut not to have been forgotten. I am also proud that I can still wave the flag for my dear friends Pat and Mike. It is wonderful to be invited to all the conventions, signings and celebrations, especially during this, the 50th year. Magic!

Our Second Doctor festivities continue right here with guides, features and discussions!

1 comment on this article
  1. JC
    February 15th, 2013 at 12.22am | #1

    A great interview and achievement Whoviannet, nicely done.

    From everything I’ve read, it does seem like it was quite difficult to get on with William Hartnell, but there were those that managed it.

    That’s fine really, it’s the same way with people like Gene Roddenberry and William Shatner. In-universe, there are the legends of the guy that created Star Trek and the guy who played James T. Kirk, but if you dig a little deeper and talk to people that know the real people, new, more realistic things emerge that you might not particularly want to know because they destroy that illusion.

    It’s like those who don’t like to see on-set photos of the Tardis being put together because it exposes it as just a wooden box with a load of wiring, even though it doesn’t particularly bother me.

    I’ve come to feel that, within reason, whatever the actor was really like, you do at least know the character and that’s really what you’re a fan of.

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