were only there for five days and during that time
was a bit annoyed that the French were
interested in me and my schoolgirl outfit than him..."
How does one introduce on the television's most beautiful (and perfectly
Such a dilemma that arises when you come to transcribe an interview with DOCTOR
WHO co-star, Lalla Ward. Joining the regular cast, alongside Tom Baker,
in DESTINY OF THE DALEKS (1979), Ward's character of Romanavoratrelundar
(Romana for short) became an instant favourite with viewers and remained with
the show until 1981 ( WARRIORS' GATE ).
Lalla Ward Interview - 2 March
At the time, Lalla Ward was touring with a comedy, REHEARSAL (co-starring DOCTOR
WHO guest stars Kate O'Mara and Peter Jeffery). The punishing schedule
was taking its toll on her, and not helped by the relentless inclement Yorkshire
Having been born in 1951 (28 June), Lalla would be in the ideal age range
to have been a DOCTOR WHO viewer in the days of Hartnell and
Troughton; had she watched the programme when she was a child?
"Not a great
deal. I wasn't an avid DOCTOR WHO fan,
I regret to admit. I did watch occasionally but I wasn't one of those kids who
were glued to it all of the time. I thought the early ones were very good, though.
I mean, I was first offered Princess Astra.
Lalla Ward first appeared in THE AMAGEDDON FACTOR (1978).
".I hadn't worked
for a while. I had been away in France because I didn't want to act and also
I wanted a rest."
Before DOCTOR WHO , roles were challenging and diverse. She
played Harriet Shelley (in an adaptation of the life of poet, Shelley) who eventually
drowned herself when her husband abandoned her. In the BBC's THE DUCHESS
OF DUKE STREET (1977), she was daughter (Lottie) of Louisa Trotter
(played by Gemma Jones).
"I came into
the series quite late, which was quite nerve wracking. The cast were incredibly
kind and I thoroughly enjoyed it."
In 1980, the quality of looking like a 19 year old at the age of 33 was great
asset to Lalla when she accepted the challenging role of Ophelia in HAMLET (for
BBC). Again, her character's life was terminated by drowning.
"One of the
advantages of appearing in such a play is that you begin to understand it properly,
I feel Ophelia's tragedy was that she had been so used by everybody and felt
that she bore a great burden of guilt."
She confided that the role had pleased her, more
so by the number of letters from DOCTOR WHO fans who.
".said that "we wouldn't have bothered to watch
HAMLET if you hadn't been in it!" It's a smashing play."
On 7 February 1979, DOCTOR WHO's Producer,
Graham Williams, announced that the re-occurring character of Romana was to be
taken over by Lalla Ward. Amid newspaper headlines of "Lalla's just what the Doctor ordered" and "Lalla's
right on time, for the Time Lord", did she enjoy the publicity aspect of such
a high profile TV series?
"Yes, though it was mainly with kids. I enjoyed the promotion with K9 on my
introduction day. I was sitting on K9's back and I remember there was a small
dog wandering around us and came up for a 'sniff'. It was hilarious. It added
something to the photos."
Whilst the script is key to character development, setting the character's
agenda is often seen in its costume (and even makeup).
"I had an awful
lot to say in what I wore as Romana. In DESTINY OF
THE DALEKS , it was my idea for Romana to wear a copy of the Doctor's
clothes. It was very funny to do. To come out of the TARDIS wardrobe wearing
the EXACT copy of the Doctor's clothes, including the multi-coloured scarf - that
was my idea. I enjoyed that kind of riding outfit I had in STATE OF DECAY .
That was the type of stuff I wanted Romana to be in, and we had variations of
that done. Then there was that 'schoolgirl' outfit of CITY
OF DEATH. I thought
it would be very funny for the children to see me as a schoolchild, with pleated
skirt and straw boater. I didn't guess that it would make the Dads happy too."
the same question we asked Tom Baker, Lalla's answer was surprisingly similar,
focusing upon the 'style' of the show as opposed to the 'plot' or 'story'.
What was her favourite story?
"I really like STATE OF DECAY ,
especially for its grate costumes and set designs. The castle and 'beneath' was well designed - it looked
and felt almost real. The villains were superb. Emrys James. I think that was
his name.had great eye make-up, and also Rachel Davies. They terrified me at
times as it so creepy.
But I think
the best script we had was the one with Julian Glover."
Of course, this was CITY OF DEATH (1979).
Starring opposite Tom Baker in no less than eleven stories and encountering
a host of aliens and monsters; any key favourites?
"Well, I have
to say, it has to be the Daleks. I suppose, they're my favourite monster of all
time, right from the early series with Patrick Troughton. I enjoyed that story, DESTINY
OF THE DALEKS."
Princess Astra or Romana, the Time Lady?
"Oh, I have to say Romana; she was much more fun to do but I did enjoy the
Princess when she was turning bad. It was such a nice change from playing nice
characters, you know, 'goody-goodies'.
I remember one that we had to re-write the script because I felt Romana wouldn't
do that sort of thing. It was in CITY (OF DEATH) , you know.
Romana had to build this machine and I disagreed with Graham (Williams) that
a heroine would not build a machine for the baddies so we had to re-write the
script to accommodate."
And the filming in Paris?
"Well, it was
cold, in March and we didn't get to see as much as we would have liked as we
were dashing about from one location to another all day. We were only there for
five days and during that time Tom was a bit annoyed that the French were more
interested in me and my schoolgirl outfit than him and his long scarf. Although
the French were very friendly and helpful. On one location we were to film at
the top of the Eiffel Tower but we couldn't, as it was so misty with four inches
of snow on the ground. We couldn't see a thing but we finally got it done."
K9 played an important part in Romana's life.
The relationship between the two flourished to a point that they became inseparable
by WARRIORS' GATE.
"I liked him immensely, though he moved a bit
too slowly and we were always saying, "Come on, K9!" When we filmed THE
LEISURE HIVE, we
had to put caterpillar tracks on him to get him across the rocky beach. In the
end we dragged him across with some fishing wire. I was very sad when they wrote
him out of the series but I was happy that he left with me. I tried to persuade
John (Nathan-Turner) to keep in the show."
And a spin-off series?
"I don't know.
If they asked me I would probably say, "Yes".
I would have to do it with K9."
The final story, WARRIORS' GATE was
a tough shoot and, in parts, a tougher script to understand. Was it difficult
to act within a 'blue
"I didn't find it too difficult.
I had to throw this stalagmite at Aukon that would shatter in mid-flight. It
was quite confusing because it was done with CSO. Throwing an imaginary rock!
We had a fantastic Special Effects group."
Two series of DOCTOR WHO with
two controversial Producers - Graham
Williams and John Nathan-Turner, which did Lalla prefer to work under?
"I was very
fond of Graham because he got me the job. They are very much so different. Under
John, we had to change the trends of science fiction. With things like STAR WARS and other cinema they were so different to DOCTOR
WHO and so we had to change. Although I don't see DOCTOR WHO as
science fiction. It doesn't matter about it being in outer space, it's mainly
about people - mainly the Doctor and his travelling companion."
DOCTOR WHO and SHADA . Any memories?
"That was great
fun to do. I think they're going to use some unused pieces from it in this anniversary
THE FIVE DOCTORS (1983).
"I particularly remember the bits on the river and the punts. Ducks. White
we were filming, about to 'take' these ducks would start quacking as if they
were laughing at us. QUACK, QUACK, QUACK!
Tom was punting
this boat and had great difficulty in steering it. We had to keep shooting those
scenes. Although the actual storyline was very complicated, it was absolutely
In 1980, Lalla decided to leave the series; any regrets?
"At the end
of that season, I decided to leave half-way through the next season. I think
that is eleven stories. I went to see John (Nathan-Turner) and over lunch tell
him this. I was very nervous. Thankfully, we were on the same level as each other.
He'd wanted to write me out in a special story halfway through the next series.
I was quite happy with the way I went, I think."
Since leaving had she returned to the DOCTOR WHO studio
to see friends?
"Yes, last year. I felt very much a stranger in a world I very much knew.
I had some friends in the cast. Dominic Guard and Peter Benson."
".John is very
good at fixing things up. A good day."
was a pure delight to meet Lalla Ward. As cheekily entertaining as you could
have expected, with a twinkle of 'Romana' in her eyes. A hectic schedule
with an illness - fantastic.
Our thanks to Lynne Horton at the York Theatre Royal for arranging the interview.