Doctor Who's original companion says series 'destroyed her acting career'

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Apr 8, 2013, 11:28 AM EDT

Hard to believe that half a century ago actress Carole Ann Ford played the Doctor’s fresh-faced granddaughter and first companion Susan, a teenager traveling through time and space with an eccentric old man in his big blue police box. 

Now, almost 50 years later, the actress is saying that Doctor Who destroyed her acting career.

When the show first aired in November 1963, it became an instant success.

“It was instant madness. There was nothing like it on television. We could go anywhere in the universe, and we gave them great cliffhangers.”

So what's all that about Who destroying her career? Ford reveals how and why it happened to her in a fascinating interview with The Telegraph. “Yeah. In no small way. Definitely. Nothing shook it off. Nothing.”  

“At that moment, it was just another job. You learn your lines, you turn up, you don’t bump into the furniture and you take your money, you know? It soon became fairly clear that it was more than that, though.”

The actress—who was 20 at the time—then says that there was a fight over at the BBC about the show.

“A lot of people did not want Doctor Who to go ahead. The people high up were against putting money into children’s programmes, which is how they considered it at the time.”

She even adds that there was an episode that was made but was never broadcast.

“The sets were very wobbly. They didn’t think it was going to last. The Tardis interior was very delicate. You could practically blow on the walls like the wolf after the little piggies and it would all fall down.”

Ford then goes on to reveal that there were certain promises made to her about her character but that they (and sadly so) never materialized.

“I was a very good dancer and had been an acrobat. They told me Susan was going to be an Avengers-type girl—with all the kapow of that—plus she would have telepathetic [err, we think they meant telepathic] powers. She was going to be able to fly the Tardis as well as her grandfather and have the most extraordinary wardrobe. None of that happened.”
“All my differentness was cut out. They made me wear horrible little trousers, not even funky jeans. Horrible little flat shoes. I don’t know why they did this to me.”
“Bill [First Doctor William Hartnell] and I put together a back story because we had to. You can’t act something unless you know what is behind it. We created the fact that he had done something to annoy the other Time Lords and they decided he had to go.”

Well that's an extremely interesting revelation! But we digress. So after Ford left the show in 1964 with her character Susan left behind on some planet weeping, the actress threw herself into theatre work an even played a *gasp* prostitute on a detective series.

“I must say that when I left Doctor Who, I was filled with… not loathing, but I was incredibly annoyed because I wanted to do more television and films and the only thing that people could ever see me in was a recreation of what I had done. A Susan clone. Some kind of weird teenager. I wanted to do work that would disconnect me from Doctor Who. That is a very difficult thing to accomplish, as many other actors who have played the companions have found out.”
“I had the most searing letters from parents of small children who had been allowed to stay up late to watch this, because I was in it and they thought it was going to be something akin to Doctor Who. They were saying, 'How dare you do this? You are a role model.’”

Thankfully, these kinds of situations are much rarer nowadays because people are generally (generally) able to realize the difference between a television series and/or film and what's real.

At least, let’s hope so ...

So, are you guys at all surprised by Ford's candid revelation about her former Doctor Who days?

(via The Telegraph)