Deborah Watling

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Deborah Watling
DeborahWatling (cropped).JPG
Watling in 2008
Deborah Patricia Watling

(1948-01-02)2 January 1948
London, England
Died21 July 2017(2017-07-21) (aged 69)
Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, England
EducationBraeside School, Buckhurst Hill
Alma materItalia Conti Stage School
  • Actress
  • author
Years active1958–2016
Known forDoctor Who
Take Me High
That'll Be the Day
Nicholas Field
(m. 1980; div. 1983)
Steve Turner
(m. 1992)

Deborah Patricia Watling[1] (2 January 1948 – 21 July 2017) was an English actress who played the role of Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor in the BBC television series Doctor Who from 1967 to 1968.[2][3] She began her career as a child actress, making her debut as a regular in The Invisible Man (1958-1959). Watling is also well known for starring in the films Take Me High (1973) with Cliff Richard and That'll Be the Day (1973) with David Essex as well as playing Julie Robertson in The Newcomers (1969) and Norma Baker in Danger UXB (1979) on television.

Early life[edit]

Deborah was born at the Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London the daughter of actors Jack Watling and Patricia Hicks. Her brother Giles and her half-sister, Dilys, are also actors.[4] She was raised in Epping until the family moved to the 16th-century Alderton Hall in Loughton, Essex.[5] Educated at Braeside School in Buckhurst Hill, Watling considered becoming a dentist before enrolling at the Italia Conti Stage School.[4] Watling made her film debut aged three and started playing background roles in her father's films. During one of her half-sister's parties, Watling started talking to a boy who turned out to be Michael Craze who she would take over from as a companion in Doctor Who many years later.[4]


Beginning as a child actress, Watling had a regular role as the niece of Peter Brady in The Invisible Man (1958) television series. She was later cast for the lead role in Alice (1965),[6] Dennis Potter's play about Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell, for the BBC's The Wednesday Play, a small role in That'll Be the Day (1973)[7] and as Norma Baker in the ITV series Danger UXB (1979).[8] She also co-starred with Cliff Richard in the 1973 film Take Me High.[9] She also made many theatre appearances throughout her career.[10]

Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines at a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary event in 2013

According to the short BBC Video documentary The Dalek Factor about the making of the story, released in September 2021 as part of the animated restoration of the serial, Denise Buckley was cast in the role of Victoria Waterfield by director Derek Martinus. The production team had been hoping that Pauline Collins would continue in the role of Samantha Briggs, that she had played in the previous story The Faceless Ones, but had created Victoria as a potential ongoing character should Collins decline. When Collins confirmed she did not want to join the regular cast, it was decided to introduce Victoria as the new companion and Denise Buckley was released, but paid in full, with Deborah Watling replacing her as a more suitable actress for the continuing role.[11] Watling played Victoria in Doctor Who from 1967 to 1968,[12] though owing to the BBC's wiping policy of the time, The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967) and The Enemy of the World (1967–1968) are the only serials in which she appeared that still exist in their entirety. She also appeared in Dimensions in Time (1993)[13] and Downtime (1995).[14]

Watling also appeared in the Doctor Who audio drama Three's a Crowd and regularly attended Doctor Who conventions and events. In November 2013, she appeared in the one-off 50th anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.[15]

Personal life[edit]

In her later years, Watling lived with her husband in Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex where she was a well known figure in the village and regularly used her acting experience by directing the local pantomimes.[16]

Her autobiography, entitled Daddy’s Girl, was published in 2010.[16]


She died on 21 July 2017 at Beaumont Manor nursing home in Frinton-on-Sea, six weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.[17][18]



Year Film Role Notes
1973 That'll Be the Day Sandra
1973 Take Me High Sarah Jones
1977 Where Time Began Glauben Voice; English version
1995 Downtime Victoria Waterfield
2000 Out of Site Mrs Pearson
2001 Possessions Lady Winkworth


Year Title Role Notes
1958–1959 The Invisible Man Sally Wilson 11 episodes
1959 The Adventures of William Tell First Child Episode: "The Spider"
1960 A Life of Bliss Carol Fellows 6 episodes
1965 The Wednesday Play Alice Liddell Episode: "Alice"
1966 Gretchen Westermann Episode: "Calf Love"
1966 The Power Game Jennifer Episode: "Late Via Rome"
1966 This Man Craig Clare Maitland Episode: "Period of Adjustment"
1966 Out of the Unknown Sarah Richards Episode: "The World in Silence"
1966 Horizon Sophy Episode: "Hand Me My Sword, Humphrey"
1967 No Hiding Place Valerie Forbes Episode: "A Girl Like You"
1967–1968 Doctor Who Victoria Waterfield 40 episodes
1969 The Newcomers[5] Julie Robertson 26 episodes
1971 Crime of Passion Leonie Juhan Episode: "Magdalena"
1972 ITV Sunday Night Drama Nurse Beverly Episode: "Old Newsome"
1972 Doctor in Charge Emma Livingstone 2 episodes
1973 Late Night Theatre Annabelle Walsh Episode: "Death to the General"
1973 Jane Episode: "The Gypsy's Revenge"
1973 Arthur of the Britons Thuna Episode: "The Slaves"
1977 A Roof Over My Head Maureen Episode: "A Roof Over My Head"
1978 Rising Damp Lorna Episode: "Hello Young Lovers"
1978 Lillie Georgie Reed Episode: "Sunset and Evening Star"
1979 Danger UXB Norma Baker 7 episodes
1979 Accident Miriam Saxon Episode: "Ends and Ways"
1981 The Jim Davidson Show Various 5 episodes
1993 Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time Victoria Waterfield TV short
2013 The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot Deborah Watling TV film

Audio dramas[edit]

Year Title Role
2005 Doctor Who: Three's a Crowd Auntie[19]
2008 Doctor Who: The Great Space Elevator Victoria Waterfield[20]
2010 Doctor Who: The Emperor of Eternity Victoria Waterfield[21]
2012 Doctor Who: Power Play Victoria Waterfield[22]
2015 Doctor Who: The Black Hole Victoria Waterfield[23]
2016 Doctor Who: The Second Doctor Volume One Victoria Waterfield[24]


  1. ^ "Deborah Watling Official Site". Archived from the original on 24 July 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Doctor Who – Classic Series – Companions – Victoria Waterfield". BBC. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  3. ^ A critical history of Doctor Who on television, John Kenneth Muir, McFarland & Co (1999), p.144
  4. ^ a b c Daddy's Girl: The Autobiography, Deborah Watling and Paul W.T. Ballard, Fantom Films, 2012
  5. ^ a b "Deborah Watling - The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive". Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  6. ^ Hadoke, Toby (24 July 2017). "Deborah Watling obituary". The Guardian.
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Variety international showbusiness reference, Mike Kaplan, Garland Publications (1981), p.687
  9. ^ "Doctor Who Cuttings Archive : Deborah Watling". Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  10. ^ Cliff Richard: The Biography, Steve Turner, Lion Books (2008), p.257
  11. ^ BBC Video. ASIN: B098412KTK. Release date: 27 Sept. 2021
  12. ^ "Deborah Watling: Actress whose short stint as a Doctor Who companion made a lasting impression". 27 July 2017.
  13. ^ "BBC One - Doctor Who".
  14. ^ "Deborah Watling obituary". 24 July 2017.
  15. ^ "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot", BBC programmes, retrieved 26 November 2013
  16. ^ a b "Deborah Watling obituary". The Guardian. 24 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Deborah Watling, Doctor Who companion dies aged 69". BBC News. BBC. 21 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Tributes paid to former Doctor Who companion Deborah Watling". Clacton Gazette. Newsquest. 21 July 2017.
  19. ^ "69. Three's a Crowd". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  20. ^ "3.2. The Great Space Elevator". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  21. ^ "4.08. The Emperor of Eternity". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  22. ^ "3.05. Power Play". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  23. ^ "2.3. The Black Hole". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  24. ^ "10. The Second Doctor Volume 01". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 22 July 2017.

External links[edit]