There are few relationships on TV like that of the Doctor and their companion – and Doctor Who legend Katy Manning knows that better than most.


During her time as Jo Grant, she became close friends with her co-stars, but most of all, Third Doctor actor Jon Pertwee.

Looking back at their adventures together with, Manning remembered how much the pair meant to each other – and what made Pertwee such a great Doctor.

She said of her relationship with her co-stars: "First of all, it was a gift... Nicholas Courtney, one of the sweetest, dearest souls you could possibly imagine, and Roger Delgado, we – Jon and I – used to go to Roger and [wife] Kismet’s house for dinner.

"We were such a strong team in the studio, but we also had this friendship outside, which is remarkable when you think you're together every day, all day."

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Manning recalled going on holidays with Pertwee and his wife, Ingeborg Rhoesa, adding: "So you can see that the friendship and the bond that you saw on screen went right out into our private lives, which was, I think, stunning because it doesn't always happen that way. From Jon, I learned so much. I learned different things from Nicholas, and different things from Roger Delgado.

"From Jon, I learned so much about the business in the old days to now. He was the one that encouraged me because he was the voice master as far as I was concerned. We used to create all these characters and he said, ‘One day, you're going to do all these voices that you do for me.’ I said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, I just do them for fun.’ So we also had that in common as well.

"We'd drive along on the location and we'd see all the names of these extraordinary villages around England and we would turn them into characters and make stories out of them. He was a great raconteur, he would often tell you a wonderful story, and he taught me one thing - never spoil a really good story with the total truth. The essence of the truth is there that makes the story interesting..."

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David Tennant in new Doctor Who character poster 2023, using his sonic screwdriver
BBC Studios

Manning added of Pertwee's approach on set: "Everybody who's played the Doctor has brought their own magic, their own creativity. There you go, there's the two hearts: the heart of the actor and the heart of the Doctor.

"And Jon had always done so much comedy. I mean, I listened Radio 4 Extra and I'm hearing this man's wonderful voice in so many different programmes. He had not really done anything that was, for want of a better word, straight acting, if you like, without the comedy, and without all the funny voices and the character. So he took this extremely seriously.

"One thing you do learn when you go into Doctor Who actually, [people ask] 'Oh, did you have lots of laughs? Was it lots of money?' It's a very serious business. When you're in the studio, everything had to be done by a certain time and we were using a lot of new techniques and things. So we had to be very focused, and Jon took this very, very seriously.

The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) in Doctor Who
The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) in Doctor Who. BBC

"He was a great leader for the teams because when we had moments down – yes, we all had smiles and lots of laughter and things like that – but once you got into that work situation, that was it, that was your total focus.

"You have to be very real and truthful, when you're dealing with creatures from another planet that often look maybe a little weird, but you've really got to see it, you've really got to believe it. Otherwise, nobody watching will, so it was a very serious time. They were very quick shoots that we had to do. We were working with lots of new technology, which took up a lot of these sorts of acting time. But Jon was, as I say, a tremendous team leader."

She summed up: "For me, he was my guru. He was my closest friend. He was just the most wonderful, kind, generous, funny, feisty, man. I adored him, all of them. I couldn't have been a luckier person."

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