Doctor Who's 10th anniversary photoshoots – classic companions look back
Looking back on Radio Times photography from 1973, with commentary from Peter Purves, Katy Manning and more.
Radio Times led the blaze of publicity with a striking cover uniting William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. Indeed, the RT photo session (main picture above) with photographer Ray Rathborne was the very first time all three leading men had come together. It took place at a studio in Battersea, south London, in October 1972.
Radio Times soon started planning a standalone publication to celebrate the important anniversary in 1973. The Doctor Who special was an instant classic and became a fan bible, documenting every adventure to date, and interviewing many of the actors who had played the Time Lord’s companions.
They were also captured in brand new, striking and strange photoshoots that recalled the ethos of their time on the programme.
Fifty years later, RadioTimes.com has caught up with some of those Doctor Who stars to hear what they recall of their sessions with the revered photographer Allan Ballard.
Carole Ann Ford
The original Unearthly Child, Carole Ann Ford had starred in the very first episode in 1963, playing the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan.
Their first on-screen adventure took them back to the Stone Age where they encountered savage fur-clad cave dwellers. This storyline was reinterpreted – rather loosely – 10 years later with Carole dressed in furs in a pastiche of Raquel Welch in the 1966 movie One Million Years BC.
"I was delighted that Radio Times was celebrating the tenth anniversary in this way," says Carole in 2023, "and I appreciated being invited to be a part of the special."
Her photoshoot took place in the extensive grounds of Crystal Palace Park, which are still open to the public today, and the lakeside prehistoric creatures remain in place.
"I remember the dinosaurs, some emerging from the water. The photographer was nice to work with, and we shared lots of giggles during the day. The only downside was it was quite cold, so I was grateful for the fur, except when I pulled it up to my chin for extra warmth, I had to pull it away immediately because it was ticklish.
"I also accumulated lots of mosquito bites – whether they were already in the fur, or in the park and attracted to my furs, I'll never know, but they were not very welcome guests!"
Before his fame as a long-running Blue Peter presenter, Peter Purves had made a name for himself in Doctor Who with a year-long stint as Hartnell’s companion, Steven Taylor (1965–66).
His 1973 photoshoot evoked one of his most popular stories and was organised for a location not too far from BBC Television Centre – underneath the A40 flyover, aka the Westway.
"You’re right," says Peter in 2023. “It was taken under the Westway near Royal Oak, and I think that the Westway hadn’t been open all that long. The shots were reflecting Blue Peter 'makes' [how children could easily make items] and The Celestial Toymaker.
"I remember that it was pretty noisy, and Allan, who had taken my picture on several occasions previously for Radio Times, had to shout instructions to me from time to time.
"It was an enjoyable shoot, and not too windy, so the dolls didn’t fall over as much as we anticipated. But beyond that I have little recall. The hair and the suit date me! And I did like the pictures."
Anneke Wills and Michael Craze
Soon after Peter Purves’s departure from Doctor Who, Anneke Wills and Michael Craze arrived as Polly and Ben in 1966. Together they were the companions who oversaw the transition from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton, and left after a year in the TARDIS in 1967.
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Talking to RadioTimes.com in 2012, Anneke recalled how RT tracked her down for the 10th anniversary special in 1973. "It was slightly disturbing for me – my old life coming back. I’d turned left, and left it all behind. I was saying, 'No, I don’t do that any more. I’m busy watering my vegetables. If you want pictures, you’ll have to come here.'"
RT dispatched Allan Ballard, Michael Craze and two Cybermen to Anneke’s home near the north Norfolk coast. "We went out to Stiffkey Marshes to a waterpipe that stretches right out, then to Cley Beach to get that strange, lunar landscape for the Cybermen as seen in The Moonbase.
"Afterwards we all went to the Jolly Farmers pub opposite me and took pictures of the Cybermen eating boiled eggs for lunch."
[Michael Craze died in 1998.]
Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling
Five years after they’d bid each other farewell, RT reunited the actors Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling – and ensured another encounter with the furry menace.
"Being chased by a Yeti – I remember it well," says Frazer in 2023. "And it was lovely seeing Debs again. We took the pictures on Hampstead Heath. People often think the heath is flat, but it’s actually pretty hilly.
"I put on a kilt again but, of course, by that time I didn’t still have my Beatle-like Doctor Who haircut. It was my hairstyle from [ITV soap] Emmerdale Farm."
Frazer also casts some mystery over another Radio Times shoot from 1972. "There’s one I’ve seen with Katy Manning and Carole Ann Ford and supposedly me in the background. But that wasn’t me. They must have cleverly superimposed my head."
[Deborah Watling died in 2017.]
Super intelligent Zoe shook things up during the final years of Troughton’s Doctor Who. So brainy was she that, in The Invasion, she had a mental battle with a computer and gave it a "nervous breakdown".
Four years after her departure, Radio Times caught up with actress Wendy Padbury and festooned her with computer tape.
"It makes me laugh thinking about those photos with lots of tape around me," says Wendy in 2023, calling from her home in France.
"That was way after I was in Doctor Who. I was in another series, Freewheelers on ITV, and very pregnant. We only had a few weeks to go with the filming, and the costume designer had given me little smocks to wear so that hopefully my bump wouldn’t be too noticeable. So I was wearing one of those for the Radio Times photos."
All these years later, she can’t be 100 per cent certain where the shoot took place. "It was at a big computer company in somewhere like Bracknell." Indeed, the branding on the tapes and hardware indicate Honeywell.
Wendy is delighted with the constant interest in the series. "Nothing surprises me about Doctor Who. It’s an absolute phenomenon and has lasted because of the idea of regeneration, which came in with Patrick [Troughton]. I’m biased because he was my Doctor, but he was brilliant when he took over."
Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John
A stalwart of Doctor Who, Nicholas Courtney played Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, the CO of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, across several decades.
In 1970’s Spearhead from Space, he and Jon Pertwee’s Doctor were joined by Caroline John as scientist Elizabeth 'Liz' Shaw. They were reunited for this 1973 photoshoot, Courtney appearing with the Brig’s cap and swagger stick but without his familiar moustache.
Also pressed into service was the Doctor’s favourite car, Bessie – which, of course, he had slyly named after his new UNIT assistant (both Bessie and Liz being diminutive forms of Elizabeth). The precise location of this photoshoot remains a mystery but looks like an airfield. Anyone out there know…?
[Nicholas Courtney died in 2011 and Caroline John died in 2012.]
Katy Manning and Stewart Bevan
You could be forgiven for supposing that these shots were taken during the filming of The Green Death, the Doctor Who story that had aired most recently on BBC One in 1973.
But, as Katy Manning points out in 2023, she was nowhere near the colliery slag-heaps of Glamorgan. "That giant maggot had made it from Wales all the way up to the Edinburgh Festival," she laughs. "In fact, I think it had a front row seat to my show every night!"
Her popular character Jo Grant had left Doctor Who a few months earlier to go up the Amazon with Professor Clifford Jones, played by Katy’s real-life partner, Stewart Bevan.
When Radio Times caught up with the young couple, it wasn’t a wet winter in Wales but Scotland in August, hence their summery clothes. "Loving Stewart’s shoes – and mine! Just the thing for climbing about on Arthur’s Seat, pursued by a maggot."
Katy and Stewart were living in Edinburgh while she starred in a zany play called Union Jack and Bonzo. She recalls a very hectic period: "During the day I had to be down south filming my series Serendipity for the BBC, then flew back up to Scotland to be on stage every night at the Traverse Theatre as a 16-year-old mass-murdering girl guide. Wearing white frilly knickers and little white socks.
"The show did well and transferred to Hampstead and then we toured Holland with it. And that led to my part in the West End."
Katy has signed pictures from the RT shoot countless times over the past 50 years, and even has one on display at home. "That was one of my favourite shoots ever – Stewart, me and the maggot!"
Decades later, the couple were reunited with giant maggots for a special short film publicising the 2019 release of season 10 as a Blu-ray box set. Katy and Stewart Bevan remained close friends until his death in 2022.
With this evocative shot, the Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special introduced fans to the new woman in the Time Lord’s life – journalist Sarah Jane Smith.
Elisabeth Sladen had yet to make her screen debut. Her first story, The Time Warrior, would also mark the first appearance of a Sontaran.
Allan Ballard photographed the new companion and alien foe up on the ramparts of Peckforton Castle in Cheshire. Sladen left Doctor Who in 1976 but would return many times over the decades, and ultimately garnered her own CBBC series, The Sarah Jane Adventures. She died in 2011.
With thanks to Radio Times head of heritage Ralph Montagu and archivist David Carlisle.
- The 1970s Doctor Who companions pictured in their own homes
- Doctor Who's Jon Pertwee in a long-lost photoshoot from 1970
- The secrets of 1970s Doctor Who revealed in newly discovered photos
- The stars of Patrick Troughton's Doctor Who – just before they joined the show
- See the earliest surviving Doctor Who photographs
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