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Katy Manning

Wednesday, 20 February 2008 10:23

Jo Grant to Pertwee's Doctor Who ...


Katy Manning is the daughter of sports columnist J L Manning. At the age of eighteen she went to America and was offered a five-year contract with MGM. However, her father insisted that she return to England and study acting there. She trained at the Webber Douglas drama school for a year, then joined a Wolverhampton repertory company and made her debut on TV in 1970 in the series Man at the Top.

She made several commercials before appearing in an episode of Softly Softly. Later in 1970, Barry Letts cast her in the role of new Companion Jo Grant in Doctor Who, and she stayed for three years.

The role was described as follows: "Glamorous young female intelligence agent, newly attached to UNIT. Keen, professional, lots of charm. Works with The Doctor. Needs to be involved with the story in an active way, not just as a screaming heroine or passing The Doctor's test tubes. Not a scientist, but has enough basic background to know what's going on".

Katy was asked at her audition to be frightened of what her character thought was a monster, then to laugh in relief when she finds out it isn't. She has said that since this was very close to her own state of emotions at the time, she didn't have any problem auditioning!

Jo was a new recruit to UNIT who only got the job because her uncle had pulled strings for her. The Brigadier, not sure what to do about her, handed her over to the Doctor, pointing out that all he really needed was someone to hand him his test tubes and tell him how wonderful he is.

Trained in espionage and escapology, like all successful companions, the character draws upon the actress. Jo, while intelligent and resourceful, was somewhat accident-prone, definitely scatter-brained, and tended to act first and think later. It made her an excellent foil for Jon Pertwee's strong, action-hero Doctor, and it is no wonder that Jo's departure is one of the most poignant in the entire series.

Following Doctor Who she presented the BBC crafts programme Serendipity and appeared as Miss Damina in the film Don't Just Lie There, Say Something. She returned to the theatre in West End productions of Why Not Stay for Breakfast, There's a Girl in My Soup, and, with Colin Baker, Odd Man In. In 1975 she made a guest appearance in the series Target (episode "Joanna"). She also appeared in a Yorkshire Television production of Oliver Twist. Other TV roles have included Armchair Theatre, Roses for Me, Z Cars, and Are You Making Money?

Katy eventually moved to Australia where she has appeared in Educating Rita (as Rita), Blithe Spirit, Run for Your Wife, and The Odd Couple. She also wrote the TV series Private Wives, featured in The Magnificent Mellops, and wrote and starred in the television series Don't Call Us. Commericals include Vodafone Australia, and "Lamb Off the Bone" for the Australian Meat Marketing Board.

Recently she has returned to the worlds of Doctor Who, with The Plague Herds of Excelis by Stephen Cole - a Bernice Summerfield audio adventure with Lisa Bowerman, and Excelis Dawns by Paul Magrs - a Big Finish Doctor Who Audio Adventure also starring Peter Davison and Anthony Stewart Head.


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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