Saturday, January 9, 2010

Companions: Polly

Affiliated with.....First Doctor & Second Doctor
Home planet.........Earth
Home era............1966
First appearance....The War Machines
Last appearance.....The Faceless Ones
Portrayed by........Anneke Wills

Polly first appears in the First Doctor serial, The War Machines, where she is working as a secretary to Professor Brett. Brett develops the artificial intelligence known as WOTAN, and Polly meets the Doctor and Dodo when they come to investigate it. Polly befriends Dodo and takes her to a London nightclub called the Inferno, where they meet Ben Jackson and try to cheer up the merchant seaman. When Polly is accosted by another patron in the Inferno, Ben comes to her rescue. Eventually, Ben and Polly aid the Doctor in his fight against WOTAN when the computer tries to take over the world. They are the bearers of the news of Dodo's decision to stay in 1966 to the Doctor, and accidentally get carried away in the TARDIS when they try to return Dodo's key to the time machine.

Polly, in contrast to Dodo, is a more sophisticated and hip young woman of the 1960s — vivacious, attractive, and alternately shy and aggressive. She and Ben make an odd couple, but she is receptive to Ben's protective urges, and he in turn finds her elegant and posh, giving her the nickname "Duchess". Polly is present with Ben when the First Doctor regenerates into the Second, and continues to travel with the Second Doctor.

Eventually, the TARDIS finds its way back to 1966 London (in The Faceless Ones) on the very day Ben and Polly had left (although about a year had passed for them). They decide to remain behind to resume their lives without disruption as the Doctor and Jamie travel on.

Polly was never given a last name in the series. According to production notes, she was meant to be Polly Wright, but this was not used in case it would be confused with previous companion Barbara Wright. In The Faceless Ones, a double of Polly is named Michelle Leuppi; an apparent mishearing of this and misinterpretation of the context led to some reference works giving Polly the last name of "Lopez". Anneke Wills suggested the name "Bettingham-Smith", after one of her friends. In the Virgin Missing Adventures novel Invasion of the Cat-People by Gary Russell, Wright is expressly given as Polly's last name, as it was supposedly given in Gerry Davis's character breakdown and audition script sample when, as story editor, he and producer Innes Lloyd created Ben and Polly in 1966. The canonicity of the spin-off novels is open to interpretation.

What happens to Polly after her return to Earth is not known. The Doctor seems to think that Ben will become an Admiral and that Polly will look after Ben, but it is unclear if this is a prediction or simply wishing them well.

Anneke Wills (born Anna Katarina Willys 20 October 1941) is a British actress best known for her role as the companion Polly in the long-running BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who.

Anneke Wills was born on 20 October 1941, in Berkshire.[1] Her parents Anna and Alaric Willys (she later changed her name to Wills) had planned to buy a house in the South of France but their intentions was ended by the outbreak of World War II. Alaric's gambling debts forced Anna to find varied work while he became a captain in the British Army and an absent figure. Anna was occupied as a companion to a blind aristocrat, gardener, teacher - moving Anneke and her brother Robin around the country.

Wills gained her first role at the age of 11 while she was living on a houseboat in Bray, Berkshire. The film was called Child's Play and she gave the £9 fee to her mother. Deciding she wanted to be an actress she then studied drama at the Arts Educational School in London and quickly became one of the busiest actresses of her generation, early roles included an appearance as Roberta in the second TV version of The Railway Children in 1957.

At 17 she began a relationship with Anthony Newley while working on the TV series The Strange World of Gurney Slade. During the sixties Anneke spent much of her time at the famous Troubadour Coffee Shop and The Establishment, and was part of the so-called Chelsea Set, counting among her close friends Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, The Alberts, Sammy Davis Junior, Angela Douglas and Kenneth More, Mary Quant, and Sarah Miles among others.

In 1966 she took the role of Polly in Doctor Who and appeared in the show into 1967 alongside William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. Other television credits include appearances in The Avengers and as Evelyn in Strange Report (1969-70). She left the latter series when it was planned to switch filming to Hollywood.

In 1970 Anneke gave up acting and moved to Norfolk, throwing herself into motherhood and gardening. During this time she travelled to Vietnam and Laos, and spent time at Poona, India, at the ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. She and her son Jasper visited the ashram many times in the 1970s and early 80s.

Wills married actor Michael Gough in 1962, but Gough's infidelity and possessive nature led to the end of their marriage and the couple divorced in 1979. She has remarried twice and lived in California and in an artist's colony on Hornby Island in Canada returning to the UK in the mid-1990s. She is still involved in the worlds of Doctor Who, being a popular guest at conventions, and being employed by the BBC and Big Finish to record various Doctor Who related audio and DVD projects.

The first volume of her autobiography, Self Portrait, was published in 2007 by Hirst Books, and a second volume, Naked followed in 2009.

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