Jessica Raine on Doctor Who, An Adventure in Space and Time… and a fear of Daleks

The Call the Midwife actress plays Who's first producer Verity Lambert and explains how Mark Gatiss's drama captures society in the 1960s

As the BBC’s first female drama producer, Verity Lambert was known to be a formidable woman, but actress Jessica Raine has hinted at the lesser known fun side to one of the instrumental people behind the creation of Doctor Who. 


“We concentrate more on her work, but we do get a little slither of the fun side of Verity,” she reveals. “Apparently she used to hold these art parties and invite the artist and all of her mates around and have a sort of exhibition, a bit of music and a bit of dancing.

“She was very strong willed, very compassionate and very warm. As the first female drama producer at the BBC she had to be very determined. She had a real fire in her belly about projects she believed in.”

Lambert’s determination was in no small part down to the societal changes taking place during the early 1960s, a mood captured by Gatiss’ drama. “I think it encapsulates a time in the Sixties when we’re on the bring of this huge change – and it does it really subtly,” explains Raine.

“We’ve got Verity Lambert walking in to the BBC, who is a woman. We’ve got Waris Hussein, the first Indian director at the BBC. The stakes are very high and that reflects what was going on in society at the time.”

The woman once described as full of “piss and vinegar” by then-head of drama, Sydney Newman, is already well known to Doctor Who fans, but does Raine see any similarities between herself and her character?

“I guess I didn’t quite realise how determined I was to act, I really did plug away at it for a while, so I suppose I am in a way. I like that Verity’s got that twinkle in her eye. It would be very flattering if anyone compared me to her.”

Raine also admits to a childhood fear of the Time Lord’s most recognisable enemy. “I actually do remember being really afraid of the Daleks. I was just terrified of their horrible voice which I always equated with the voice on the tube. We used to go up to London, because I was from the countryside, for a London weekend and the tube voice, ‘mind the gap’ used to always remind me of the Daleks so it was just a terrifying experience!”

An Adventure in Space and Time is expected to air on BBC2 later this month