Karen Gillan: David Bailey “played mind tricks on me”

Doctor Who star says famed photographer was formidable as she posed for him for We'll Take Manhattan

As a Doctor Who companion, she’s faced the scariest monsters on TV, but it was a real-life encounter with David Bailey that actor Karen Gillan found “formidable”.


Bailey famously had a dramatic affair in the 1960s with model Jean Shrimpton and Gillan now stars in a re-creation of that time, We’ll Take Manhattan. It led to a very special photoshoot: David Bailey photographing Karen Gillan as Jean Shrimpton.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to meet him,” Gillan tells Radio Times. “Then I got this call saying: ‘You’re doing a shoot with David Bailey.’ Never in my wildest dreams did I think that was going to happen. And I’d done so much research on him that I thought I had an idea of what to expect.”

She didn’t. “He’s a funny one, David Bailey. He plays mind games to provoke his subjects.

“He kept shouting, ‘Surprise me! Do something!’ He seems to build up your confidence but then knock it back down again. He kept on saying to me, ‘You’re pretty but pretty girls are like red buses.’… He meant being pretty is not enough to make an interesting portrait, essentially.”

See for yourself how the shoot turned out – and what happened when Jean Shrimpton saw the final drama – in the new issue of Radio Times, on sale now.

We’ll Take Manhattan is on Thursday 26 January at 9pm on BBC4.


Find out more in the new issue of Radio Times magazine