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Obituary: Jacqueline Hill (1929 - 1993)

'I feel frightened. As if we were about to interfere in something that is best left alone.'
- Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill), 100,000 BC

Born 17 December 1929
Died 18 February 1993 (of cancer)

Selected Acting Credits

The Shrike (1953)
The Blue Parrot (1953), The Comedy Man (1963)
Shop Window, Fabian of the Yard, An Enemy of the People, Maigret, The Six Proud Walkers (1962), Golden Boy, The Rose and the Ring, The Seat of the Scornful (1955), The Empty Rooms (1954), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956), Joyous Errand (1957), The Legend of Pepito (1958), The Flying Doctor (1959), The Man who came to Dinner (1961), Out of this World (1962), Romeo and Juliet (1978), Tales of the Unexpected (1979, 1983, 1984), Angels (1982), Paradise Postponed (1986)
Doctor Who:
100,000 BC - The Chase (1963-65), Meglos (1980)

By Phillip J Gray

I was extremely sad to read of the untimely death of Jacqueline Hill. Miss Hill was one of the first companions on the programme, and her role was created to be the older female audience identification character. Jacqueline Hill played Barbara with aplomb and great style. Having recently seen her stories I would have to say she would be one of the best actors in the programme; the interaction between Hill, William Russell, Carole Ann Ford, and later (although to a lesser degree), Maureen O'Brien, was a joy to behold. I think it is unsurprising that William Hartnell got more difficult after the original companions left.

Jacqueline Hill's acting was superb. From Barbara's chilling first encounter with a Dalek, to her despair at trying to keep her infection with DN6 insecticide from the others in Planet of Giants, or her revulsion at the true nature of the city or Morphoton in The Keys of Marinus; these are for me high points in an always well-acted role. Her maternal treatment of Susan and her determination to get to Bedfordshire in The Dalek Invasion of Earth were highlights of the strength of her character, and her leading roles in The Romans and The Crusade were further demonstrations of this; her character's training as a history teacher put her in good stead for all the historical encounters she was to have during her time in the TARDIS.

Probably the greatest triumph for Barbara occurred relatively early in the series. Those of you who have seen The Aztecs will appreciate this. Barbara was definitely in control masquerading as the Aztec goddess Yetaxa, and the Doctor takes a back seat to the social and political manipulations in this story.

There are many other examples of Jacqueline Hill's talented portrayal, but I cannot quote them all. My only regret is that some of her episodes are now lost so that we cannot fully appreciate her character. Acting is a strange profession; a character is nothing without the determination and the effort put into it by the professionalism of an actor. During her two and a half years in Doctor Who, Jacqueline Hill certainly demonstrated that.

By Graham Howard

Although best remembered by fans for her role in Doctor Who, Jacqueline appeared in numerous television and stage productions prior to gaining the part of Barbara Wright. Before going to RADA to study acting, Jacqueline had worked as a model and in a Cadbury chocolate factory. Her involvement in Doctor Who was foreshadowed when she first met Verity Lambert in 1959 in New York. They met again at a party some four years later where they discussed the proposed character of Barbara Wright. Jacqueline was later offered the role.

Jacqueline Hill played Barbara Wright from episode one of 100,000 BC (AKA An Unearthly Child), through to episode six of The Chase, some sixteen stories in all. As the first of a long line of female companions (excluding Susan), Barbara must still rank as one of the strongest, most clearly defined, motivated and best-portrayed companions that the series has seen. Especially in those early episodes Barbara, along with Ian Chesterton, acted as the viewers' link with the familiar world, helping to engender in the viewer the wonder of time travel; the fear and/or excitement experienced by the travellers as they explored an alien world or a period of Earth's history.

Jacqueline Hill must take the credit for making Barbara such a strong character, one that the viewer could relate to and accept with ease, amidst the then outlandish concepts introduced in the series. I well remember when I first saw 100,000 BC several years ago being impressed at how convincingly and assuredly Jacqueline Hill (and William Russell) portrayed two present day teachers, wrenched from their fairly routine lives and dropped into extraordinary situations - situations which I suspect must have seemed a bit ludicrous to the actors!

Not long after she departed Doctor Who Jacqueline left acting to raise a family, but did return to acting in the late 1970s. In 1981 she appeared again in Doctor Who as the character of Lexa in the 18th season story Meglos. As one of the actors involved in Doctor Who at its very inception, her valuable contribution to the show is indisputable, and through repeats and video releases will hopefully be appreciated for many years to come.

This item appeared in TSV 34 (July 1993).