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Pamela Salem: An Actress from the year dot

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PAMELA SALEM has become a familiar name to fans of telefantasy programmes, having appeared in no less than three Doctor Who stories, Blake's 7, The Tripods and Into the Labyrinth.

Born in India, schooled in England and attending University in Germany was something which Pamela understandably found "rather confusing". After completing her studies, she went on to attend the Central School of Drama in London. "I wanted to be an actress from the year dot and I remember the first acting I ever did was in the The Teddy Bears Picnic at the age of two! Neither of my parents are in the acting profession, though my sister is an actress/puppeteer".

Mad Computers and Killer Robots

Pamela's first contact with telefantasy was with back-to-back appearances in two 1977 Doctor Who stories: The Face Of Evil and The Robots Of Death. "The first credit I had was as the voice of a mad computer (Xoanon) which was great fun to do. Immediately after that, I was asked to appear in a marvellous story featuring killer robots, which used some great pioneering special effects to make their eyes change colour. I remember I had to wear a hat like half a bicycle wheel and a dress that was a definite disadvantage when trying to escape from those robots.

"Tom Baker was a delight to work with. To me, he was the Doctor! We laughed from start to finish making that one, even though we were always working against the clock. Recording had to finish at 10 pm and one night Louise Jameson (Leela) and myself (Toos) had to do two takes of running along a gantry with about thirty seconds left before the studio lights went out. It took about an hour for us to recover in the bar afterwards!"

Pamela's appearance as Toos in Robots of Death was greeted by huge speculation at the time that she was about to become the Doctor's new companion. These stories were fueled by innacurate reports in the tabloid press.

The High Priestess

Shortly after her two Who roles, Pamela appeared in the first season Blake's 7 episode Cygnus Alpha. "I played a High Priestess who met a rather unpleasant end with a spear sticking through her. We did a lot of night filming and the whole scenario seemed so convincing that I almost felt as if I was on an alien planet! One abiding memory I have is that the weather was absolutely freezing, but fortunately there was a fantastic film catering van so that we could regularly stuff ourselves with warm food to avoid dying of hypothermia.

Playing Belor

Early in the 1980's, Pamela played the evil sorceress Belor in the fondly remembered HTV children's Fantasy series Into the Labyrinth. "It was unusual working with somebody as experienced as the wonderful Ron Moody (Rothgo) and with three children as well. The kids were at an age where they didn't automatically do what was told of them because of their school background. An ideal situation would be to have had three totally inexperienced children, because they would have been more natural. Although, in fairness, the kids have all gone on to do good things since. The character of Belor was very popular and children used to come up to me on the street and repeat my chatchphrase to me — 'I deny you the

Nidus!' which was tremendous fun."

Fighting Daleks

More recently, Pamela returned to Doctor Who as Rachel in the 1988 story Remembrance of the Daleks. "It was great to work with the Daleks because I've always thought they were an ingenious design. I remember the cast and crew tearing around Hammersmith to record the outdoor scenes as quickly as possible, which was just as well because - like Blake's 7 - it was freezing weather conditions again! On location, the cast were all about six pounds heavier than in the studio because we were all wearing thermal underwear!"

Among the more interesting of Pamela's many acting roles during her career has been the opportunity to play Miss Moneypenny, alongside Sean Connery's James Bond, in the 1983 film Never Say Never Again. "I think the reason I was cast was because I had worked with Sean before on the film The First Great Train Robbery. I didn't think there was enough of Moneypenny in it, but that's just my opinion! A lot of the film was cut, which I thought was a great shame because the Moneypenny character is a huge favourite with some people."

The Mafia Boss of Walford

Pamela also took on a high profile role when she became a regular in the BBC's long running soap EastEnders, playing the wine bar owner and local mafia boss, Joanne. "It's a completely different way of working compared with other acting jobs, but I soon got into the rhythm of it. I never wanted to be in the series forever, but when my contract finished I would have liked to have done more because I had enjoyed the experience far more than I thought I would. My character got a mixed reception from people — some thought the gangsterland plot, with which Joanne was involved, was completely wrong for the show, while others thought it was an interesting development."

"I always consider anything I'm offered, if it's good fun, or teaching you something, or something you haven't tried before, then it's worth doing. I never lay down any rules about acting but if you don't feel convinced in the character, or the plot, then you're not going to do wonders with it anyway."

Recent Work

Last year, Pamela and her husband produced a documentary about Indian Kite Festivals, which has since been sold to H.T.V. "It was one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done in my life and I'd love to do more, even though producing truly is a twenty four hour a day job. Acting seems like light relief in comparison".

Pamela has also completed a movie for television called Succubus which, although made a couple of years ago, has yet to be seen on British television. "It's a kind of supernatural thriller/mystery starring Barry (Van Der Valk) Foster as a man who's converting an old French Abbey into a restaurant/hotel with his girlfriend and I play the ex-wife who arrives with a vengeance. The husband has our teenage son with him who is on the brink of his first sexual awareness and keeps seeing a Succubus (an imp-like creature which is supposed to have appeared to monks to taunt them over sexual matters) which is his reaction to the clash of personalities between the husband and wife. A kind of poltergeist effect

Pamela's frequent apearances in telefantasy series are no fluke, as she has a genuine interest in Science Fiction and fact. "I actually have tickets for the waiting list to go to the Moon!! After the first moon landing, I wrote to Pan Am on the vague chance of there being a waiting list and I couldn't believe it when they sent me two tickets. Even though I'm about 67,000 places down on the list, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll live long enough to get my chance!"

"I love the imagination of science fiction and I have a collection of books with fantasy paintings at home. I'm also a fan of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy - I always seem to get wonderful dreams whenever I read it!"


Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks Pamela (centre) remembers, "the cast and crew tearing around Hammersmith"

Pamela in the Blake's 7 episode Cygnus Alpha - "A High Priestess who met a rather unpleasant end"

Into The Labyrinth Pamela Salem as the beautiful but evil witch Belor

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to

  • APA 6th ed.: Leanard, Graeme Wood and Andrew (issue 26 (January 1992)). Pamela Salem: An Actress from the year dot. TV Zone p. 40.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Leanard, Graeme Wood and Andrew. "Pamela Salem: An Actress from the year dot." TV Zone [add city] issue 26 (January 1992), 40. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Leanard, Graeme Wood and Andrew. "Pamela Salem: An Actress from the year dot." TV Zone, edition, sec., issue 26 (January 1992)
  • Turabian: Leanard, Graeme Wood and Andrew. "Pamela Salem: An Actress from the year dot." TV Zone, issue 26 (January 1992), section, 40 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Pamela Salem: An Actress from the year dot | url= | work=TV Zone | pages=40 | date=issue 26 (January 1992) | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 March 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Pamela Salem: An Actress from the year dot | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 March 2024}}</ref>