Jacqueline Pearce

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Jacqueline Pearce
Jacqueline Pearce.jpg
Jacqueline Pearce at the Blake's 7 Series 2 DVD launch, 2005
Born(1943-12-20)20 December 1943
Byfleet, Surrey, England
Died3 September 2018(2018-09-03) (aged 74)
Lancashire, England
Alma mater
Years active1964–2018
(m. 1963; div. 1967)

Jacqueline Pearce (20 December 1943 – 3 September 2018)[1] was a British film and television actress.[2] She was best known for her portrayal of the vampish villain Servalan in the British science fiction TV series Blake's 7, a performance which served as "a sexual awakening for a generation of sci-fi fans."[3][4][5] Pearce possessed "considerable depth and emotional range" which "was not often exploited".[6] In 2012, she published a memoir, "From Byfleet to the Bush".[7]

Early life[edit]

Pearce was born in Woking, Surrey, on 20 December 1943.[1] Her mother left the family when she was 16 months old and she grew up spending time both living at her father's home in Byfleet and with a foster family.[6] She attended the Marist Convent School for Girls at West Byfleet,[1] where one of the teachers encouraged her to pursue her ambition of acting, and after leaving school, Pearce successfully auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).[8] Pearce also trained at Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in Los Angeles.[6]


After graduating from RADA in 1963,[8] Pearce had small roles including in the television series Danger Man and A Question of Happiness, and in the film Sky West and Crooked.[9][10] In Spring 1965, she auditioned for Anthony Nelson Keys at Bray Studios, and won leading roles in two Hammer horror films, The Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile.[8] These were filmed one after another on the same location and both released in 1966.[11]

Other film roles include the Carry On film Don't Lose Your Head (1966), Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (1968), White Mischief (1987), How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989), and Princess Caraboo (1994).[5][10]

As well as appearing in the BBC children's programmes Dark Season (alongside Kate Winslet) and Moondial, Pearce appeared in the Doctor Who serial The Two Doctors as Chessene, a bloodthirsty alien.[12] She was associated with Doctor Who through her appearance in The Fearmonger as Sherilyn Harper, an audio drama by Big Finish Productions, and as Admiral Mettna in the webcast story Death Comes to Time. Pearce returned once again to Doctor Who from 2015, this time opposite John Hurt, as a regular in the Big Finish audio series based on the adventures of the War Doctor,[13] portraying Cardinal Ollistra, a leader of the Time Lords in the Time War who often clashes with the Eighth Doctor and the War Doctor over how far the Time Lords should be willing to go to achieve victory.

She remains best known for her role as Servalan in the British science fiction TV series Blake's 7 (1978–1981).[2] The character was originally written for one episode, but was expanded to a regular role over four series due to Pearce's popularity.[5]

She appeared in the role of Rosa Dartle in the BBC dramatisation of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (1974)[1] and a television version of Christopher Hampton's stage play The Philanthropist as Araminta which was first broadcast in 1975. She also appeared as an associate of the assassin Carlos in the television movie, The Bourne Identity (1988).[14]

Pearce also made guest appearances in TV series such as The Avengers, Public Eye, Callan, Dead of Night, Special Branch, The Zoo Gang, Spy Trap, and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.[15] She appeared in two episodes of the spy series Man in a Suitcase, unusually in different roles within the same season.

Personal life[edit]

Pearce had a short-lived marriage to Drewe Henley. After they divorced he married Felicity Kendal. A second marriage also ended in divorce.[1] Pearce suffered from clinical depression during periods of her life.[16] She was the subject of the third volume of MJTV's "The Actor Speaks" interview/drama CDs, with a special piece written for her by Tanith Lee.[17] Pearce recounted in her memoir her profound personal and spiritual renaissance while volunteering at the Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa, where she had gone for a short stay, but ended up staying five years, having realised that her "future lay here, in this magical land with these magical beings, who had so completely claimed my heart".[18] She described “the joy of family which hadn’t proved possible with human beings”.


Pearce was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2018 and died on 3 September 2018 at her home in Lancashire.[5]



Year Title Role Notes Ref
1964 Danger Man Jeannie episode "Don't Nail Him Yet" [9]
1964 A Question of Happiness Frances 2 episodes: "Fred" and "Watch me I'm a bird" [10]
1965 Giants on Saturday girl in pub [10]
1966 Public Eye episode "Tell me about the crab" [19]
1966 The Avengers Marianne episode "A Sense of History" [20]
1967 Haunted Jenny Bryce episode "I Like It Here" [10]
1967 Theatre 625 Eva Franzia episode "The Magicians: The Incantation of Casanova" [10]
1967 Man in a Suitcase cast member episode "Sweet Sue" [10]
1968 Armchair Theatre cast member episode "The Glove Puppet" [10]
1968 The Root of All Evil? Connie episode "West of Eden" [10]
1968 Man in a Suitcase Ruth Klinger episode "Somebody Loses, Somebody...Wins?" [10]
1969 Callan Eva episode "Once a Big Man, Always a Big Man" [10]
1971 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Jenny Pryde episode "The Case of the Dixon Torpedo" [10]
1972 New Scotland Yard Leonie Peters episode "The Banker" [10]
1972 Dead of Night Sarah Hopkirk episode "Bedtime" [10]
1973 The Edwardians Countess Halecka episode "Lloyd George" [10]
1973 Hadleigh Sue episode "Second Thoughts" [10]
1974-1975 David Copperfield Rosa Dartle [10]
1974 The Aweful Mr. Goodall Madame Prigent episode "Clara" [10]
1974 Vienna 1900 Anna Rupius 2 episodes [10]
1974 Special Branch Helga Moritz episode "Catherine the Great" [10]
1975 Churchill's People Mrs Parker episode "Mutiny" [10]
1975 Couples Claudia Haswell 5 episodes [10]
1975 Spy Trap Helen Machin episode "With Friends Like You" [10]
1975 The Philanthropist Araminta [10]
1977 Leap in the Dark Dorothy McEwan episode "The Ghost of Ardachie Lodge2 [10]
1978-1981 Blakes 7 Servalan [10]
1978 Shadows hostess episode "And for My Next Trick" [10]
1979 Measure for Measure cast member [10]
1980 Star Games on-screen participant [10]
1985 What Mad Pursuit? cast member [10]
1985 Doctor Who Chessene serial The Two Doctors [21]
1985 The Bourne Identity [21]
1988-90 Moondial Miss Vole/Miss Raven 5 episodes [10]
1991 Dark Season Miss Pendragon 3 episodes [10]
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Annabelle Levi episode "Paris October 1916" [10]
1999 Mrs. Pollifax cast member [10]
2002 Daniel Deronda Baroness Langen [10]
2006 Casualty Elspeth Lang episode "No Place Like..." [10]
2016 Pointless Celebrities on-screen participant [22]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1965 Changes cast member short [10]
1966 Sky West and Crooked Cammellia [10]
1966 The Plague of the Zombies Alice Tompson [10]
1966 The Reptile Anna Franklyn [10]
1967 Don't Lose Your Head lady [10]
1968 Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River Pamela Lester [10]
1980 Weekend cast member student film [10]
1988 White Mischief Idina [10]
1989 How to Get Ahead in Advertising Maud [10]
1994 Princess Caraboo Lady Apthorpe [10]
1995 The Contract cast member short [10]
1998 Guru in Seven Joan, 'The oyster lady' [10]


Dates Title Role Venue Notes Ref.
1964 The Judge Pat Dean Cambridge Theatre author: John Mortimer, director: Stuart Burge [23]
1968 Smile Boys, That's the Style Kate Wood Citizens Theatre author: John Hale, director: Michael Blakemore [24]
1975 Otherwise Engaged Queen's Theatre director: Harold Pinter [1]
1977 A Midsummer Night's Dream Titania Northcott Theatre, and tour of Devon and Cornwall director: Geoffrey Reeves [25]
1980 Night and Day Ruth Belgrade Theatre author: Tom Stoppard, director: Robert Hamlin [26][27]
1981 Witness for the Prosecution Essex Hall, London author: Agatha Christie, director: Reobert Henderson [28]
1983 Outlaw Haymarket Studio, Leicester, and national tour author: Michael Abbensetts, director: Robert Gillespie [29]
1992 Shadowlands Ruth Belgrade Theatre author: William Nicholson, director: Rumu Sen-Gupta [30]
1997 When God wanted a Son New End Theatre author: Arnold Wesker, director: Spencer Butler [31]
1999 A Star is Torn Co-writer and performer Gilded Ballroom (Edinburgh Festival Fringe) Co-writer and director: Spencer Butler [32]
2001 Aphrodite Blues New End Theatre [33]
2001 Dangerous Corner Garrick Theatre [1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Hadoke, Toby (4 September 2018). "Jacqueline Pearce obituary - Actor who brought a perfectly judged level of camp to the role of the vampish, villainous Servalan in the TV sci-fi series Blake's 7". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b McFarlane, Brian (16 May 2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781526111968. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 24 September 2020 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Muir, John Kenneth, A History and Critical Analysis of Blake's 7, the 1978–1981 British Television Space Adventure
  5. ^ a b c d Association, Press (3 September 2018). "Jacqueline Pearce, Blake's 7 and Doctor Who actor, dies aged 74". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Blake 7 star Jacqueline Pearce dies, aged 74". The Telegraph. 3 September 2018. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  7. ^ https://www.fantompublishing.co.uk/product/jacqueline-pearce-byfleet-bush/
  8. ^ a b c Hearn, Marcus (2009). "Jacqueline Pearce". Hammer Glamour. London: Titan Books. pp. 116–119. ISBN 9781848562295.
  9. ^ a b Condon, Paul (15 February 2018). 1001 TV Series: You Must Watch Before You Die. Octopus. p. 188. ISBN 978-1-78840-046-6. Archived from the original on 1 January 2021. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av "Jacqueline Pearce". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 1 January 2021. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  11. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Reptile, The (1966)". www.screenonline.org.uk. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Jacqueline Pearce played Chessene… – The Two Doctors: Miscellaneous – The Two Doctors, Season 22, Doctor Who – BBC One". BBC. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  13. ^ "John Hurt to return as The War Doctor in new Doctor Who audio plays".
  14. ^ "The Bourne Identity (1988) – Roger Young – Cast and Crew – AllMovie". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  15. ^ TV.com. "Jacqueline Pearce". TV.com. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Jacqueline Pearce obituary". The Times. London. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018. (subscription required)
  17. ^ "The Actor Speaks: Paul Darrow- Review by Helen Reilly". www.kaldorcity.com. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  18. ^ Pearce, Jacqueline (2012). From Byfleet to the Bush.
  19. ^ Amos, Bill (27 August 1966). "And still some say 'no TV'". Liverpool Echo. p. 2.
  20. ^ "The Avengers: A Sense of History". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  21. ^ a b Smith, Mark (5 September 2018). "Jacqueline Pearce". The Herald. Glasgow. p. 17.
  22. ^ "Pointless Celebrities". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 1 January 2021. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  23. ^ Marriott, R.B. (9 March 1967). "The Judge with a guilty conscience". The Stage. p. 13.
  24. ^ "Mixed up emotions". The Stage. 2 May 1968. p. 15.
  25. ^ "On this week in...". The Stage. 7 July 1977. p. 23.
  26. ^ "Production News". The Stage. 4 September 1980. p. 22.
  27. ^ Fitzgerald, Ann (25 September 1980). "Coventry: Night and Day". The Stage. p. 29.
  28. ^ "Theatre Week". The Stage. 22 January 1981. p. 10.
  29. ^ "Production News". The Stage. 6 October 1983. p. 24.
  30. ^ "Production News". The Stage. 15 October 1992. p. 11.
  31. ^ "Theatre Week". The Stage. 6 February 1997. p. 47.
  32. ^ "Fringe listings". The Stage. 5 August 1999. p. 34.
  33. ^ Thaxter, John (15 March 2001). "Theatre review: Aphrodite Blues". The Stage. p. 14.

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