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Who's that girl? (2000)

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For Dr Who fans around the world, actress Kate Manning will always be Jo Grant. She talks to SIMON YEAMAN about the fans, the show and life after the good doctor.

ON screen, she's best remembered for screaming an awful lot and being pursued by monsters with jam jars for eyes and a sink plunger for a nose. In real life, Kate Manning - who played Dalek-fearing blonde assistant Jo Grant in Dr Who during the early-'70s - is a bundle of energy and good humor. And the British star is still bemused by the whole Who phenomenon.

"It's unbelievable," she says of the endless repeats here and in Britain.

"I buy a ticket on the tube in London with my daughter Georgie, right, who's like 20, and the guy says to me 'Oh, I know. You're Katie Manning from Dr Who'. And Georgie's going 'I don't believe this'.

"I actually had a bus driver stop. He jumped off his bus and he said 'I've got to tell you, I'm a huge Dr Who fan'.

"It just happens all the time."

Manning is now based in Sydney, having arrived in Australia in the mid-1980s.

Her twin children, Georgie and J.J. (Jonathon James), then aged four, "were really really sick".

"So I needed to try a better climate for a while to see if we could get them through the dreadful illnesses that they had, and it sort of worked and I stayed," she said.

"I used to go back and work occasionally and recently I was away for four years (in the United States) and I missed it so much I came back."

In the US, she spent a lot of time with Liza Minnelli, who is "my oldest friend and one of the children's godparents. We've been friends since we were like 12".

They met as "snotty schoolgirls" at Miss Dickson and Miss Wolf's School For Girls in London, an institution Minnelli attended whenever her mother Judy Garland was performing in Britain.

"She (Liza) and I were setting up a production company (in New York)," she said.

Manning is heavily involved in theatre in Australia as well, and is in two productions in Sydney - Eureka, about the Eureka Stockade, and Banjo, a Barry Crocker musical based on the life and works of Banjo Paterson.

She's also done voice-overs for Gloria's House, a cartoon series for Channel 7.

Manning describes Jon Pertwee as her favorite doctor. "I did the first one where they amalgamated the three doctors, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. I had it before women's lib. Remember me?" she says. "I really feel quite blessed because I've worked with the three very first Doctor Whos and the first Master (Roger Delgado), who are all in the big Tardis in the sky, laughing at the success of the show."

Pertwee wanted Manning for the job a year before she got the part: "I arrived at the audition with a dreadful cough and I didn't have my glasses and they said 'Could you read this part?'- and I said 'If I read it, it will look like I'm smelling the page'."

So she improvised, screamed a lot and won the part over first choice, Michael Caine's wife Shakira. Manning has long been considered the sexiest of the Who girls.

"Probably one of the nuttiest, too, if you ask any of the ones that come to the conventions," she says. "One of them quoted me as 'queen of the one-liners'. Tom Baker (the fourth doctor), I saw him when they had a big convention in London. I had longer queues than Tom in same places. I just have to say that," she laughs.

After Dr Who, Manning hosted a crafts show, played British TV's first lesbian, starred as a 16-year-old Girl Guide mass murderer at a theatre festival and performed on the West End circuit. She then flew to Australia for her children's sake.

In fact, Georgie and J.J. have only recently become Dr Who fans.

"They got to teenagers and they really thought I sucked and there was just nothing I could do that would make me less sucky," Manning says.

"Georgie she's now in the showbusiness (in Britain) and she says 'Mum I'm so proud. When I see a magazine called Grooviest Chicks of the '70s and you're on the cover, that kicks arse'."

  • Dr Who repeats screen on UKTV on Foxtel and Austar at 11.30pm, weekdays.

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

  • APA 6th ed.: Yeaman, Simon (2000-12-27). Who's that girl? (2000). The Advertiser p. 56.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Yeaman, Simon. "Who's that girl? (2000)." The Advertiser [add city] 2000-12-27, 56. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Yeaman, Simon. "Who's that girl? (2000)." The Advertiser, edition, sec., 2000-12-27
  • Turabian: Yeaman, Simon. "Who's that girl? (2000)." The Advertiser, 2000-12-27, section, 56 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who's that girl? (2000) | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Who%27s_that_girl%3F_(2000) | work=The Advertiser | pages=56 | date=2000-12-27 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=12 November 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who's that girl? (2000) | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Who%27s_that_girl%3F_(2000) | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=12 November 2019}}</ref>