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Obituary: Adrienne Hill

By Paul Scoones

[Adrienne Hill]Adrienne Hill died of cancer on 6 October 1997. She was born in Plymouth and trained in acting at the Bristol Old Vic. The first eight years of her acting career were spent in the theatre, including performing with the Old Vic Company in London, followed by work in repertory theatre. She was the understudy for actress Maggie Smith in a repertory play called Mary, Mary, and had to perform the role when Smith was taken ill the same night that night, Doctor Who production assistant Viktors Ritelis was in the audience. Ritelis was impressed by her performance and subsequently invited her to audition for director Douglas Camfield and producer Verity Lambert for the part of Joanna in The Crusade in early 1965. Adrienne was turned down because she wasn't tall enough and the role went to Jean Marsh, but later that same year, Camfield cast both Hill and Marsh as the Doctor's companions Katarina and Sara Kingdom in The Daleks' Master Plan.

Adrienne made her on screen Doctor Who debut in Horse of Destruction, the last episode of The Myth Makers, playing Katarina the Trojan handmaiden to the prophetess Cassandra, although the first thing she did was her death scene as a filmed insert before she'd recorded her Myth Makers episode. Although Adrienne was delighted to be given a role in Doctor Who - a show which she watched avidly at the time - she was disappointed that he character had little more to do than react to the Doctor's lines.

Katarina was a late addition to The Myth Makers when new producer John Wiles decided to replace Vicki with a new character. Although Katarina was conceived as the new regular companion, Wiles and script editor Donald Tosh soon realised that a character from the distant past had very limited potential and consequently decided to have her killed off in the following story. Katarina became the first of the Doctor's companions to die when she sacrificed herself in The Traitors, the fourth episode of The Daleks' Master Plan.

In 1965 Adrienne also appeared in two other BBC television drama serials, Compact and 199 Park Lane. Her role in 199 Park Lane was about to be expanded into a more substantial part when the show was cancelled after 18 episodes. Adrienne then took a major role in the long running BBC radio serial Waggoner's Walk, playing the regular character Myrna Podmore.

Shortly after Doctor Who Adrienne married and then became pregnant. She moved to Amsterdam when her husband got a job in Holland, and lived there for a couple of years. They returned to England briefly before moving to America. While living in the USA they separated, and Adrienne returned to England in the late seventies with her two children. Subsequently, she did a three-year degree and then taught drama in some tough inner city London schools, starting off as a head of department. After five years she gave this up to concentrate on acting roles once more.

She renewed her connection with Doctor Who in the mid eighties when she attended a few conventions and also appeared on television on the Children in Need charity appeal on 22 November 1985 as part of a large assembly of Doctor Who stars. She thoroughly enjoyed this experience that reunited her with her former co-stars Peter Purves, Maureen O'Brien and Nicholas Courtney.

This item appeared in TSV 53 (March 1998).