Wanda Ventham

  1. Shirley Eaton,  Goldfinger, 1964.
  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, for when Doc5 Peter Davidson landed on Manussa. The others were Jill Bennett, Eleanor Bron, Elspeth Gray, Sheila Hancock, Jean Marsh, Anna Massey, Kate O’Mara (the future Time Lady Rani), Barbara Shelley, Elizabeth Spriggs, Fiona Walker… and Ventham, now better known as the mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. The Scottish O’Neill had scored 77 mainly UK credits by 2016.
  3. Tara Ward, Doctor Who #130: Warriors of The Deep, 1984.     For Doc5 Peter Davison’s finale, 18 stunners were shuffled for Preston… Ventham, Ward, Lynda Bellingham, Sarah Berger, Isla Blair, Suzanne Danielle, Patricia Finnegan, Jenny Hanley, Diane Keen, Rula Lenska (aka Dr Styles in #133: Resurrection of the Daleks, TV, 1984), Susan Penhaligon (Lakis in #64: The Time Monster, 1972), Pamlea Salem, Susan Skipper, Catherine Schell (Countess Scarlioni in #105: City of Death, 1979), Primi Townsend (Mula in #99: The Pirate Planet, 1978), Fiona Walker… And two Ken Russell favourites: Georgina Hale and Helen Mirren.
  4. Ingrid Pitt, Doctor Who #130: Warriors of The Deep, 1984.     The nine potential faces of Dr Solow were: Ventham, Pitt, Honor Blackman, Eleanor Bron, Diane Keen, Rula Lenska, Maureen Lipman, Bond Girl Pamela Salem, Sylvia Syms.
  5. 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 Ventham, James, Lynda Bellingham, Eleanor Bron, Pauline Collins, Diane Keen, Jean Marsh, Sheila Ruskin, Barbara Shelley, Sylvia Syms, Fiona Walker, Penelope Wilton.
  6. Joan Sims, Doctor Who #143: The Trial of a Time Lord, TV, 1986.      When Joan Sim is competing with Sylvia Syms… not to mention Ingrid Pitt, Beryl Reid versus Honor Blackman, Billie Whitelaw… you realise a certain desperation has entered the casting process. Indeed, never had so many women – 20 – been flagpoled for one part… The other Katryca contenders were Ventham, Linda Baron, Isla Blair, Jill Bennett, Brenda Bruce, Adrienne Corri, Sheila Hancock, Janet Henfrey, Rosemary Leach, Jean Marsh, Sian Phillips, Dinah Sheridan, Elizabeth Spriggs, , Fiona Walker. The winner was, inexplicably, Sims. She didn’t enjoy it one bit. So she did not… carry on. Ventham made three tales with three Doctors across three decades, one every ten years… She was Jean Rock in Doc2 Patrick Troughton’s #35: The Faceless Ones, 1967; Thea Ransome in Doc4 Tom Baker’s #94: Image of the Fendahl, 1977 (her first big gig after Benedict’s birth); and Faroon opposite Doc7 Sylvester McCoy in #144: Time and the Rani, 1987.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  6