Billie Whitelaw

  1. Jeannette Hutchinson, Dixon of Dock Green, TV, 1956-1963. After the first sason of six shows, the BBC  wanted more, many more. (The series lasted 21 years).  Billie was no longer available as Mary, daughter of the ordinary London copper  George Dixon (resurrected by the author Lord Ted Willis after being shot dead by Dirk Bogarde (oh yes!)  in the 1949 film, The Blue Lamp).  Jeannette took over for seven years before she moved to Australia. 

  2. Sylvia Syms, The Punch and Judy Man, 1962.      As the titular character’s wife in British comedy ikon Tony Hancock’s ambitious attempt to break out of his TV persona (as triumphant as Jerry Seinfeld’s in the 90s). Tony wrote the script with film critic Philip Oakes and wanted to direct. The studio wisely refused (he  would never have finished!),), then unwisely imposed Jeremy Summers on him,  a journeyman TV director,  minus any track record in comedy (or cinema).  The brave little movie flopped, fast-tracking Hancock’s tragic decline into alcoholism and suicide in Australia by 1968.  Summers went back to TV.
  3. Joan Sims, Doctor Who #143: The Trial of a Time Lord, TV, 1986.      When Joan Sims 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 Whoverse part… The other Queen Katcyra contenders were Linda Baron, Jill Bennett, Isla Blair, Brenda Bruce, Adrienne Corri, Sheila Hancock, Janet Henfrey, Rosemary Leach, Jean Marsh, Sian Phillips, Dinah Sheridan, Elizabeth Spriggs, Wanda Ventham, Fiona Walker. The winner was, inexplicably, Sims. She didn’t enjoy it one bit. So she did not… carry on. (Whitelaw never Whoved in her 123 screen roles).


 Birth year: 1932Death year: 2014Other name: Casting Calls:  3