The Doctor Who Companion website has an exclusive extract from my book on 1967 Doctor Who story The Evil of the Daleks, focused on the casting of Deborah Watling as new companion Victoria Waterfield.
I was very sorry to hear the news last week that Deborah has died. I wrote a brief tribute for the Big Finish website:
"The Doctor Who production team originally wanted Pauline Collins - Samantha Briggs in The Faceless Ones - to stay on as the new companion. When she declined, they quickly promoted a character in the next story, The Evil of the Daleks, so that Victorian orphan Victoria joined the TARDIS. Unlike companions before or since, she wasn't gutsy and wise-cracking and often spent her adventures in abject terror. But perhaps because of that, and definitely because of the way Deborah Watling played her, Victoria enjoyed scenes and stories that would never have suited anyone else. There's the magical moment in The Tomb of the Cybermen where the Doctor finds a quiet moment to comfort her, and speaks of his long-lost family. There are the stink bombs she brews up to battle the Ice Warriors and her screams - so often a cliche of a "weak" Doctor Who girl - are what defeat the evil seaweed in Fury from the Deep. (To help explain how, writer Victor Pemberton devised the sonic screwdriver, so we owe that to Victoria too.)
I got to meet Debbie Watling a handful of times, and we talked about the delights - and frustrations - of playing Victoria. I'll especially remember her telling me about Dimensions in Time, after I'd told her how much I enjoyed it. She explained that under her shawl in that she's hiding her arm being in plaster cast - because she'd fallen off a skateboard."