Elizabeth Spriggs

  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 Spriggs, 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! Infamous BBC TV  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 Spriggs, Jill Bennett, Eleanor Bron, Elspeth Gray, Sheila Hancock, Jean Marsh, Anna Massey, Kate O’Mara (the future Time Lady Rani), Barbara Shelley, Wanda Ventham (the mother of Benedict Cumberbatch) and Fiona Walker. The Scottish O’Neill had scored 77 mainly UK credits by 2016.
  3. Jacqueline Pearce, Doctor Who #140: The Two Doctors, TV, 1985.      Chessene was intended for Spriggs, but played by Pearce, who didn’t understand anything. She knew zilch about the Whoverse or The Doctor(s) – Doc2 Patrick Troughton and the short-lived Doc5 Colin Baker.
  4. 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 part… The other Katryca 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 (Tabby in #145: Paradise Towers, 1987), Wanda Ventham, Fiona Walker. The winner was, inexplicably, Sims. She didn’t enjoy it one bit. So she did not… carry on.
  5. Dawn French, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2003.      The Fat Lady from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 2001, was suddenly changed from Spriggs to French. Most UK actors seemed to be queuing up to pass a moment with Harry P.

 Birth year: 1929Death year: 2008Other name: Casting Calls:  5