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Barbara Shelley

  1. Barbara Murray, Doctor Who #120: Black Orchid, TV, 1982.       Despite a wish-list of 18 actresses, this was not a rehash of Sophia Loren’s 1958 Hollywood melo, but an adventure (with cricket!) in 1925 England for Doc5 Peter Davison. The choices for Lady Cranleigh were inevitable - such definitive ladies as Jean Anderson, Renee Asherson, Honor Blackman, Claire Bloom, Faith Brook, Kathleen Byron, Rachel  Kempson (mother of Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave), Virginia McKenna, Muriel Pavlow, Maria Redmond, Dinah Sheridan, Elizabeth Spriggs… and 40s’ UK screen queens Phyllis Calvert, Joan Greenwood. But also two comic character stars Beryl Reid and Joan (Carry On) Sims and a Hammer horror icon, Barbara Shelley!
  2. Colette O’Neill, Doctor Who #124: Snakedance, TV, 1982.       Judi Dench and Carry On star Joan Sims up for the same part  - kidding, right? Nope! Producer John Nathan-Taylor loved rocking the boat. He suggested 14 ladies as Lady Tanha, when Doc5 Peter Davidson landed on Manussa. The others were Shelley, Jill Bennett, Eleanor Bron, Elspeth Gray, Sheila Hancock, Jean Marsh, Anna Massey, Kate O’Mara (the future Time Lady Rani), Elizabeth Spriggs, Wanda Ventham (the mother of Benedict Cumberbatch) and Fiona Walker. The Scottish O’Neill had scored 77 mainly UK credits by 2016.
  3. Polly James, Doctor Who #131: The Awakening, TV, 1984.       Imagine Glenda Jackson and Helen Mirren up for the same Whoverse role. Plus Bond ladies, Honor Blackman, Judi Dench, Diana Rigg and Pamela Salem. Well, producer John Nathan-Taylor had a female casting/dart) board, as well as one for the guys.   As proved by his 18 choices for Jane Humpden in Doc5 Peter Davison’s four-parter in half (by simply axing the Daleks)… The others were Shelley, Lynda Bellingham, James, Eleanor Bron, Pauline Collins, Diane Keen, Jean Marsh, Sheila Ruskin, Sylvia Syms, Wanda Ventham, Fiona Walker, Penelope Wilton. Three episodes later, Shelley was Sorasta in #134: Planet of Fire with Doc5 Peter Davison.




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