Saturday, January 9, 2010

Companions: Barbara Wright

Affiliated with.....First Doctor
Species ...............Human
Home planet.......Earth
Home era............1963
appearance.........An Unearthly Child
appearance.........The Chase
Portrayed by......Jacqueline Hill

Barbara Wright is a history teacher at the Coal Hill School, working with science teacher Ian Chesterton. One of their students, Susan Foreman, the granddaughter of the Doctor, shows an unusually advanced knowledge of science and history. Attempting to solve the mystery of this "unearthly child", Ian and Barbara follow Susan back to a junkyard, where they hear her voice coming from what appears to be a police box. When they investigate further, they discover that the police box exterior hides the much larger interior of a time machine known as the TARDIS, and are whisked away on an adventure in time and space with the Doctor and Susan.

Barbara is a strong-willed woman and provides a maternal figure to Susan. She is frequently the only person who can stand up to the First Doctor's cantankerous personality. The chemistry between Ian and herself is also evident, although the nature of their relationship is never made explicit in the television series.

In the serial The Aztecs, Barbara is hailed as the reincarnation of the ancient high priest Yetaxa by the Aztec civilization. Despite the Doctor's protests that she cannot change history, she attempts to turn the Aztecs away from their practice of human sacrifice. In The Reign of Terror, she establishes a friendship with Leon Colbert and is distraught when he is killed. After many travels, Ian and Barbara eventually use a Dalek time machine to get home, albeit two years after their disappearance and presumably with much explaining to do to their friends and families.

Jacqueline Hill (17 December 1929 – 18 February 1993) was a British actress best known for her role as Barbara Wright in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. As the history teacher of the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan Foreman, Barbara Wright was the first of the companions to appear in the show in 1963, with Hill speaking the series' first words. She continued to play the role for nearly two years, leaving the show in 1965 but returning for an appearance in the 1980 Doctor Who story Meglos, as the priestess Lexa.

Hill trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made her stage debut in London's West End in The Shrike. Many more roles followed, including, on television, Shop Window, Fabian of the Yard and An Enemy of the People. In 1958 she married the director Alvin Rakoff, having the previous year appeared in his BBC adaptation of Rod Serling's American television play Requiem for a Heavyweight.[1] That production had starred former bit-part actor Sean Connery, who had been cast by Rakoff at Hill's suggestion, as she felt he would be popular with female viewers.

Hill was asked to play Barbara Wright in Doctor Who after she and producer Verity Lambert, whom she knew socially, discussed the role at a party. Soon after leaving the series in 1965 she gave up acting to raise a family, daughter Sasha and son John [2]. Hill resumed her career in 1979 and gained further TV credits in, amongst other programmes, Tales of the Unexpected and as Lady Capulet in the BBC Television Shakespeare version of Romeo and Juliet in 1978.

Jacqueline Hill died of cancer in 1993.

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