Fifty years ago Debbie Watling joined Doctor Who as Victoria Waterfield and became one of the most recognisable companions and in some ways the archetypal one. Her screaming was so strong that it once defeated the monsters and for that reason she was considered to be a product of her time. It’s difficult to fully assess her character as most of her episodes were wiped though people who saw them say she was a vital addition and had great chemistry with co- stars Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines. While her performance was of a somewhat demure Victorian girl out of time, in real life she was a lively addition to the cast and sometimes the victim of pranks at their behalf.
In many respects Doctor Who stifled her career but she remained loyal to the show and at many conventions would reminisce about what she had to do and the cheeky camaraderie that existed with Messrs Troughton and Hines! Victoria remained her best known role but she was also fondly remembered in Danger UXB from 1979 as well as co-starring in the 1973 film Take Me High. The daughter of actor Jack Watling, she started as a child actor in a 1958 adaptation of The Invisible Man and went on to appear in series including A Life of Bliss, The Power Game and Out of the Unknown before her stint as Victoria. Post Doctor Who she appeared in 26 episodes of the 1969 series The Newcomers and in 1978 had a role in an episode of Rising Damp. Her last known tv appearance was in 1981’s Jim Davidson Show. She did reprise the role of a much older Victoria opposite her father Jack Watling in the independent production Downtime in 1995.