Sylvia Syms

  1. Janette Scott, The Devil’s Disciple, 1959.     Missed out on working with the heady trio of Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster and Laurence Olivier – due to stage commitments in The Strangers.
  2. Wendy Craig, The Servant, 1963.     Already pregnant when wed to Dirk Bogarde in Victim, the best UK screen actress of the era had to leave the Joseph Losey-Harold Pinter-Bogarde classic “because of the baby. I was good at lots of things but not having babies.” The baby was future actress Beatie Edney.
  3. Ingrid Pitt, Doctor Who #130: Warriors of The Deep, 1984.     The nine potential faces of Dr Solow were: Pitt, Syms, Honor Blackman, Eleanor Bron, Diane Keen, Rula Lenska (she became Dr Styles in #133: Resurrection of the Daleks), Maureen Lipman, Bond Girl Pamela Salem, Wanda Ventham (mother of Benedict Cumberbatch) and Fiona Walker. Not the happiest of Whoverse shoots – and not just because Doc5 Peter Davison obeyed Doc2 Patrick Troughton’s golden rule. Three seasons and out.
  4. 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. The others wrere James, Lynda Bellingham, , Eleanor Bron, Pauline Collins, Diane Keen, Jean Marsh, Sheila Ruskin, Barbara Shelley, Sylvia Syms, Wanda Ventham, Fiona Walker, Penelope Wilton.
  5. 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 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.
  6. Janet Henfry, Doctor Who #154: The Curse of Fenric, 1989.      The great Syms – the Helen Mirren of her day – finally delighted producer John Nathan-Taylor by accepting Mrs Pritchard in #153: Ghost Light, 1989. But not Miss Hardacre in this next one – which saw the end of the Time Lord. It would be another 16 years before the series was born again (in BBC Wales) thanks to writer-producer-fan Russell T Davies and the delightful David Tennant as Doc10.

    Footnote>>>  I first interviewed Sylvia  in Cambridge in May 1958.  She was filming Bachelor of Hearts with Hardy Krüger – and I was doing my National Service in the RAF around the corner in Brampton!  We met upagain n my  Bournemouth days,  when she was starring in the 1963 pre-West run of  Woman in a Dressing Gown, a stage play version of the original  Ted Willis TV play and UK film. By 2005, she was playing The Queen Mother opposite Helen Mirren as The Queen.….




 Birth year: 1934Death year: 2023Other name: Casting Calls:  6