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Jacqueline Pearce: In Servalan's Secret Service (1987)


The sexy "Blake's 7" villainess admits her hidden desire to get amorous with Avon & reveals how she tapped her way into John Nathan-Turner's heart.

Pearce is also familiar to Doctor Who fans for her role as Chessene, the Androgum—an animalistic creature artificially evolved to a higher order—in "The Two Doctors." Although also a villainous part, Pearce approached it differently because the character was so clearly alien. "I was fascinated by being an Androgum," she says, "by the fact that she had these operations but could revert back as she did—as soon as she saw a bit of blood, she went crazy. But I had never seen a Doctor Who episode in my life when I did it. And now, I'm a great fan. They're a wonderful crew, I love them. They welcomed me with open arms. I felt had always been there—it was very special."

Producer John Nathan-Turner (STARLOG #82, 101), having worked with Pearce in "The Two Doctors," typically decided to cast against type, asking Pearce to play the Fairy Godmother in the 1985 Christmas pantomime production of Cinderella. The Christmas pantomimes are a uniquely British entertainment. Based on traditional tales, they combine new characters, old vaudeville jokes and routines, familiar songs, boys played by girls and women (such as the ugly stepsisters) played by men. They customarily star well-known television actors.

Cinderella had been produced in 1984 with Peter (The Fifth Doctor) Davison (STARLOG #102) playing the role of "Buttons" and his wife, Sandra (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) Dickinson as the Fairy Godmother. The 1985 season's production would see Doctor Who veterans Colin (The Sixth Doctor) Baker (STARLOG #105) as "Buttons," Nicola (Peri) Bryant as Cinderella, Mary (Romana) Tamm as Prince Charming, and Anthony (The Master) Ainley returning as Baron Hardup. Pearce had, she chuckles and says emphatically, never done pantomime before and, she observes, "I don't think you can have two actresses more dissimilar than Sandra Dickinson and Jacqueline Pearce. There was no way I could do the Fairy Godmother like Sandra. I don't have a voice like hers, for one thing!

"John asked me if I would like to do it, and showed me the video from the year before. I said, 'Well, I can't sing or dance.' 'That's all right, darling,' he promised me, 'you won't have to.' So, I went in on good faith, thinking the part would be written in such a way that I wouldn't have to sing or dance. I saw the video a few months later, and I saw myself ripping my skirt off [as the Fairy Godmother breaks into a flashy tap-dancing number] and 'Tapping my Troubles Away,' and I don't know how it ever happened to me. I will never forgive John Nathan-Turner." But would she do it again? "Absolutely. It stretched me," she says exuberantly. "Doing things you can't do, that terrify you, is the only way to grow."

Part of her enjoyment in doing the pantomime came from the freedom the cast felt to play jokes on each other, such as one aimed at Anthony Ainley (STARLOG #82). "He had to announce to the audience that somebody had won a Honda motor-cycle—whoever had this particular number under their seat—was to please come up on the stage. Of course, no one had that number because there weren't any motorcycles at all. But somebody that night had put the number under four different seats! Suddenly, all these people came up on stage, demanding this motorcycle!" She laughs. "Poor Tony! Not fair! He managed very well, though."

So, with her hair somewhat longer, her career in television and theater continuing, Jacqueline Pearce goes on, approaching every job with a dedication that Servalan would recognize and appreciate. "My feeling is that you give 100 percent to everything that you do. If your attitude is 'Take the money and run,' then you run and you don't take the money. There are too many talented people out there who are not working and who would be very grateful for the opportunity to work and give it everything they've got."

JEAN AIREY & LAURIE HALDEMAN, British fantasy experts, are the authors of Travel Without the TARDIS (Target, $3.25). They interviewed Michael Keating in STARLOG #118.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Haldeman, Jean Airey and Laurie (number 121 (August 1987)). Jacqueline Pearce: In Servalan's Secret Service. Starlog p. 59.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Haldeman, Jean Airey and Laurie. "Jacqueline Pearce: In Servalan's Secret Service." Starlog [add city] number 121 (August 1987), 59. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Haldeman, Jean Airey and Laurie. "Jacqueline Pearce: In Servalan's Secret Service." Starlog, edition, sec., number 121 (August 1987)
  • Turabian: Haldeman, Jean Airey and Laurie. "Jacqueline Pearce: In Servalan's Secret Service." Starlog, number 121 (August 1987), section, 59 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Jacqueline Pearce: In Servalan's Secret Service | url= | work=Starlog | pages=59 | date=number 121 (August 1987) | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 July 2017 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Jacqueline Pearce: In Servalan's Secret Service | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 July 2017}}</ref>