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Katy's Life After Dr Who

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KATY MANNING made her last appearance in Dr Who in 1973 but still receives hundreds of fan letters. People stop her in the street, remark how she hasn't changed which earns them her undying gratitude and ask when she's going back to play the spirited Jo Grant. As Katy puts it, you don't boil old cabbages twice, even when the dish concerned achieved cult status and is the world's longest-running science-fiction series. When she made a promotional trip to America she appeared in 14 cities in 14 days. "I went to football stadiums, jammed with people. I had armed guards who were with me all the time! It was an extraordinary experience for someone who, only a few days earlier, had been in Manly's Coles buying sausages. "When I was in London with Run For Your Wife I answered 500 fan letters. Mail from America is enormous and I get masses from around Australia. They still see me as if I was in the series yesterday." In fact, since Jo faded from the scene, Katy has done dozens of things, including several years in the West End. She came to Australia with her two children in 1981 and has hardly ever been unemployed in a 20-year career. Currently she is in Run For Your Wife at the Lyric Theatre in a happy company that has been together for more than a year. She brings tremendous concentration to her work. On opening night at the Lyric, Katy, who wears half-strength contact lenses, banged her head on a wall she hadn't noticed and almost passed out. But she had some vital dialogue to exchange with David McCallum, grasped a wall and hung on. As soon as she went off, she collapsed in a heap. Little wonder that she views slackers with disdain. "I want to punch people's lights out who don't want to work because they have a cold," she mutters fiercely. This feisty quality was utilised heavily in Dr Who. Jo Grant was a severely practical little party, always on the verge of exasperation with the vague Time Lord, played by Jon Pertwee. The mini-skirts she wore were another attraction; fans claim to remember with relish a glimpse of her knickers. "Dr Who was very good for me three years with someone like Jon has to be an advantage. But whether it enhanced my career I don't know. I think I've been very lucky. "It seems that Jo is the companion most people remember. Dr Who started to become a cult program during the Pertwee era, and Jo was one of the last characters to ask questions on behalf of children. "I was in it during a kitchen sink period for women we didn't say very much and did a lot of screaming. When I left it, women's lib was becoming a household word. Women were sitting up and saying "We have something to say'. "The show had 75 percent adult viewers possibly because we came on right after the football results! "Jon brought a wonderful sense of magic to the part, he's a brilliant character actor. He's nearly 70 now and so active. We got on well and I think that came over on the screen. "When I watch Dr Who now it's like seeing a family get-together. Nicholas Courtney was the brigadier, John Levine his real name was Woods is one of the most naturally funny men I know, Roger Delgade who played the Master and died in a car crash was such a gentle, sweet man. "We played it completely straight, never sent it up. It's like doing farce: if you don't believe the incredible situation you're in, how can you expect the audience to believe in it? "Farce is the most difficult thing to do. By comparison, doing Shakespeare is an easy day's work. These days younger actors tend to poo-poo farce, and that's bad. But I know there are some terrible farces I've done them!" Katy thinks she has done some 40 plays. In the Who days she auditioned with 500 others for the female half of a two-hander, Why Not Stay For Breakfast? opposite Derek Nimmo. On the pre-London tour three actresses had been tried out; Nimmo liked none of them. "Newcomers, old has-beens and young has-beens tried out. I went along on Famous Daughter's Day, and in the end, for whatever reason, they decided on me. We had 10 days' rehearsal, and my part was the longest comedy role ever written for a woman. "I was supposed to be 18 when I was really 25. I never played a 20-year-old until I was 30, and never played a 30-year-old until I was ... well, never mind." Henceforth she seemed destined for comedy, though in the film Don't Just Lay There, Say Something she was the only girl who didn't appear in bra and pants. She also played Ophelia for the Young Vic and her portrait of a lesbian in an avant garde play caused a furore. For eight years she lived with actor Dean Harris; they had twins, Georgina and Jonathan, and in 1981 she abandoned everything in the UK and came to Australia, where she knew only one person. It was a sort of character test. "I thought that if I was going to bring up two children on my own I needed to know what my strengths and weaknesses were and I had to leave everything behind. It was the only way. "I could have gone to America but there would have been too many people to help me there. Liza Minnelli, for example, who has been a close friend since we were at school together at Miss Dixon and Miss Wolfe's School for Girls near Victoria Station. "My father, J.L. Manning the sports journalist, was always telling me how beautiful Australia was. He came here every year to cover the cricket. So I arrived with the two children, took a flat in Kirribilli and for the past four years have lived in Manly with a marvellous view of the sea." Katy's first job in Australia was the initial tour of Run For Your Wife with Bernard Cribbins. Later she worked with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, Andrew Sachs and Martin Shaw. She returns frequently to Britain, where people ask her why she isn't still in the West End. She remembers that when she arrived in this country nobody was interested in what she'd done in London. "You have to allow yourself to start again. My lifestyle is simple. I have a boyfriend who doesn't live with me and I work, go home and never go out. My social life is really the children and teaching when I'm able to." Katy has a philosophy that tells her: This is happening now and you have to deal with it. She is annoyed by procrastinators and people who waste time. An early riser, she loves waking to a sea view, and watching the children she teaches in a Manly dance studio. "I'm prone to be right up there or terribly quiet by myself, I'm never moody. If I'm cross it never lasts." With her good friend, actress Penny Whiteley, she runs a production company called True Blue. Together they developed a TV sitcom Two in the Bush but Australian networks were indifferent. Katy said: "There seems to be a comedy format they want to follow, they believe it's the key to success. So, Penny and I are going to London to discuss another project, Private Wives." But first, the Wife tour, which ends in Perth on February 6. "I'm a working actress," said Katy. "There's no pattern to my career. I'm so lucky I've had virtually no time out in some 20 years. I haven't tied myself to anything, people don't look at me as any particular character, except perhaps Jo Grant. "They look at me and say "I know you're an actress, but I don't know your name'. I think that's a nice position."


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  • APA 6th ed.: Dean, Peter (1987-12-05). Katy's Life After Dr Who. The Courier Mail .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Dean, Peter. "Katy's Life After Dr Who." The Courier Mail [add city] 1987-12-05. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Dean, Peter. "Katy's Life After Dr Who." The Courier Mail, edition, sec., 1987-12-05
  • Turabian: Dean, Peter. "Katy's Life After Dr Who." The Courier Mail, 1987-12-05, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Katy's Life After Dr Who | url= | work=The Courier Mail | pages= | date=1987-12-05 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 April 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Katy's Life After Dr Who | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 April 2024}}</ref>