Anneke Wills

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Anneke Wills
Born Anna Katarina Willys
(1941-10-20) 20 October 1941 (age 73)
Berkshire, England, U.K.[citation needed]
Occupation Actress
Years active 1952–1970
Television Doctor Who (1966–1967)
Spouse(s) Michael Gough (1962–1979)
Children Jasper

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


Wills's parents, Alaric and Anna Willys, planned to buy a house in the South of France, but gave up on the idea after the outbreak of the Second World War. Alaric Willys's gambling debts forced his wife to find work while he became a captain in the British Army. Anna worked as a companion to a blind aristocrat, as a gardener and as a teacher, moving around the UK with Anneke and her brother Robin.[citation needed]


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 and RADA 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. Her film career included roles in The Pleasure Girls (1965) and Some People (1962).[1]

In 1966 she took the role of Polly in Doctor Who. She appeared in the show into 1967 alongside William Hartnell and then Patrick Troughton.

Her 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 (though that plan fell through). In November 2013 she appeared in the one-off 50th anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.[2]

Personal life[edit]

At 17 she began a relationship with Anthony Newley while working on the TV series The Strange World of Gurney Slade. Newley fathered Wills' first child, but left her to marry Joan Collins.[3] During the 1960s Wills 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.

Wills married the actor Michael Gough in 1962, but Gough's infidelity and possessive nature led to divorce in 1979.

In 1970 Wills gave up acting and moved to Norfolk, throwing herself into motherhood and gardening. However, she also travelled to Vietnam and Laos, and spent time in the 1970s and early 1980s at the ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in Poona, India, taking the name Ma Prem Anita, and accompanied by her son Jasper, known as Swami Dhyan Yogi. She has remarried twice, and has lived in California and in an artists' colony on Hornby Island in Canada. She returned to the UK in the mid-1990s.

She has been a popular guest at Dr Who conventions, and has been employed by the BBC and Big Finish to record various audio and DVD projects related to the show.

The first volume of her autobiography, Self Portrait, was published in 2007[4] by Hirst Books and a second volume, Naked, followed in 2009. Her latest book, Anneke Wills - In Focus, was published in May 2012 by Fantom Films.

In October 2013 she recorded an abridged version of Who's There?, a biography of William Hartnell written by his granddaughter, Jessica Carney.


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