Last weekend BlogtorWho was lucky enough to be at the BFI Southbank for the screening of ‘The Sea Devils‘. Throughout the day there were a number of interview sessions on stage. For the benefit of those who were not in attendance we present some highlights from those sessions.
Following the screening of ‘The Sea Devils‘ Justin Johnson interviewed Katy Manning on stage to discuss her role as Jo Grant, the cast members on this particular story and other topics.
“So going back to 1972, that looked pretty cold.” – Justin Johnson
“Oh, it was always freezing! But once again I did have the worst outfit. Because it was made of wool that suit. So when my suit got wet, it shrunk! But at least I did have a suit on and a sweater because normally I was just in a mini skirt.” – Katy Manning
“You don’t normally re-watch these so you haven’t seen this in 50 years?” – Justin Johnson
“No I don’t. So I was sitting there, watching and found myself getting really angry with the Minister [Walker, Parliamentary Private Secretary]. I was almost up in my seat because of what we’ve got going on in the world.” – Katy Manning
“We don’t learn do we?” – Justin Johnson
“No, we don’t. Also my other little thing is, UNIT was lovely then but they were a bit gung-ho with guns as far as I’m concerned. They were ready to have a quick blast at everything. And then I started to feel tremendous compassion for the Sea Devils. I was having quite a little moment up there. But wasn’t there some glorious moments between Roger [Delgado] and Jon [Pertwee].” – Katy Manning
“And Jo. And you and Jon as well actually. All three of you are so lovely in it.” – Justin Johnson
“Yeah, but I had to battle eyelashes. They didn’t!” – Katy Manning
Middle Season, Pertwee, Delgado and stunts
“You were properly established, this was your middle season. Some companions don’t stay and can go quite quickly. It felt like you really owned this role.” – Justin Johnson
“Well, Jo, I was very lucky to have this character. She starts out really innocent, basically straight out of school. A year doing things like escapology, jolly useful if you’re going to be a bank robber! But in that time I was in the show you actually see her grow up. And I’m still going, I’m Granny Jo! So it was lovely to play a character that actually did grow and change right through to getting married and really becoming a strong woman. She learned all of that from that amazing man called The Doctor.” – Katy Manning
“We’ve talked about this before but you had a very, very special bond with Jon Pertwee, tell us a little bit about that but also Roger Delgado who we haven’t talked about so much in the past.” – Justin Johnson
“I found that when we were doing the filming with Chris Chapman [for the Collection box set extras] we got to the very end and we’d talked so much about Roger and we’d talked so much about Jon. It’s a very strange thing but suddenly I’d just get this huge wave of emotion because they were such a big, strong part of my life, my growing. They were like my mentors. I was this little young person. It was just incredible to work with people like Jon and Roger. And to have the friendship that we had off camera. We’d go to Roger and Kismet’s house for dinner. I went to Ibiza with Jon and Ingeborg. We’d do all these things together.
I never thought that I’d be looking back at all of this in my life. I’m very much in the now and I was so much in that moment every single time. Roger was the gentlest, sweetest. He loathed doing stunts. I think you can tell when it’s Roger. Whereas Jon, of course, was the reverse and wanted to do absolutely everything which was great for me.” – Katy Manning
“You hurt yourself abseiling on this didn’t you?” – Justin Johnson
“Oh, I’m always hurting myself. Nobody takes any notice. It’s true. At one point I was falling over a lot. I remember the camera said; ‘Katy fell over.’ And they said; ‘It doesn’t matter, she’ll get up.’ Because that’s much more real anyway.” – Katy Manning
“There’s that moment with Stuart Fell and the ladder.” – Justin Johnson
“Bless his heart. What a lovely man. But they couldn’t find a stunt person who was little enough. So eventually Stuart, who was a stilt walker, they went for him. And that suit should’ve been mine because it was bigger!” – Katy Manning
Clangers and lines in tins
“You were a big fan of ‘The Clangers’.” – Justin Johnson
“The most important thing in ‘The Sea Devils’ for me was ‘The Clangers’. That’s such an extraordinary moment.” – Katy Manning
“The way that [Delgado] played it. Being told it’s a children’s TV show. His expression.” – Justin Johnson
“There was such good moments. I’m honestly so glad that I’ve seen it again. I feel a bit excited, still very cross. But everyone was so good in it.” – Katy Manning
“This is one of the shows which definitely is a firm fan favourite.” – Justin Johnson
“Now I know why! I wasn’t sure why before. Also I thought Declan Mulholland, you know when Jon does that incredible speech, it was written in the tin! At one point I got carried away with something and I closed the tin. There we were in the studio going for the take and you didn’t get to do it twice unless you absolutely had to or, as Jon taught me, swore. I’d forgotten that he had all that written down in the tin. I’m so short sighted there was no point me writing anything! Once they took my glasses away before each take and sometimes I think you can see, especially when they decided to make me wear eyelashes, you can see I don’t actually quite know where I’m going or what I’m doing. But I did it. I got there!” – Katy Manning
“It’s a time when Women’s Rights and equality were beginning to start to show. But from your point of view as a woman on the show did you feel that was rubbing off in terms of the BBC and working on Doctor Who?” – Justin Johnson
“I was very, very lucky. I was there at a time where I was never left out of anything. If there was a discussion to be had, or Jon and I felt that some escape with a spoon wasn’t necessarily going to work, even though it was funny. But there was never a moment where I felt that I was lesser than anybody else in the show.
It was just that wonderful period of time we had from just about the end of 60’s to 74 where women suddenly had a lot to say they had a lot more freedom and that was very strongly given to me at the BBC which was wonderful because it made [Doctor Who] so exciting to work on.
Everybody, all the special effects, they all wanted to show me and share everything. As an actor it’s terribly important to know what everybody’s job is because that way you understand what problems people might be having. Now and again you could see the looks from June [Murphy, who played 3rd Officer Blythe]. But over time you could see Jo getting stronger and stronger as a woman.” – Katy Manning
Location filming and ‘The Power of the Doctor’
“This story obviously had a huge amount of location work and if that happened today, with social media, you’d be completely inundated with people trying to get there. Were there lots of fans around while you were filming or was it pretty deserted?” – Justin Johnson
“I don’t know, I can’t see! I always feel like I’m alone! During that period, the [viewing] figures had gone from children but in Jon’s time lots of students started going; ‘oh this is kind of cool’. You also started getting lots of adults watching. I remember landing in a helicopter somewhere and there was a whole bunch of people and I said to Jon; ‘Are they all in it?’ He said, ‘No, my girl. I think they might be fans!’ I’d grown up understanding fandom but only in a Hollywood sense so this was quite a shock. So it started to snowball. You weren’t having the conventions back then.
Anybody who came in, after Tom [Baker] they knew what they were in. Who would’ve thought back then. It was so extraordinary because it was suddenly making this huge arc and I was getting recognised. Jon just loved it, he really did. He was wonderful and wherever he went he was The Doctor!” – Katy Manning
“Since we last spoke on this stage, apart from the continued Big Finish adventures that you’ve had, has been this opportunity to return to the show itself with the Jodie Whittaker episode that broadcast last year.” – Justin Johnson
“Even coming back in the Sarah Jane Adventures. Jo was a granny, now she’s a great granny!” – Katy Manning
“In terms of getting that call and then filming, keeping secret all that time. Can you tell us a little bit about that?” – Justin Johnson
“I’m very good at secrets because I’ve got a very bad memory. Once you’ve done it, and because I had come back in the Sarah Jane Adventures and worked with the wonderful Matt, it was exciting but I felt ‘isn’t it great that granny Jo is still staggering around!’ But to get there with William Russell. I’d confessed to him some years ago how much I had been in love with him when he played, was it Ivanhoe? – Katy Manning
“Ivanhoe, yeah.” – Justin Johnson
“I fell so in love with him in Ivanhoe. We were at a convention in America. So to sit there with him in that room. Meeting Bradley [Walsh] and everybody.” – Katy Manning
“Some of those people you know from the convention circuit, you’ve not necessarily all sat together and acted like that.” – Justin Johnson
“No. There was a tremendous feeling in that room because suddenly you felt; ‘This is quite magical’. I was so proud of my girls [Janet Fielding and Sophie Aldred] coming back. I had my little moment.” – Katy Manning
“There’s great further spinoff potential now isn’t there? People the Doctor left behind.” – Justin Johnson
“There will be spinoffs. There will be people returning. I do know that. But, Granny Jo, who I think is a glorious character now, this woman with all these children, still championing the world, as she said in that lovely piece [Defenders of Earth]; ‘We saw everything and wanted to save it’. The thought of this extraordinary old lady of 77. I think it would be lovely if she just occasionally comes in for a very good reason. She’s very loving and very huggy because she’s very different now and yet still the same. They’ll bring lots of people back but I hope that great granny Jo gets a little nod here and there. She’s very sweet. – Katy Manning
“‘The Sea Devils’ begins with the Doctor and Jo in the boat heading towards the Master’s island. In the original shot list for the location filming it shows that the original opening sequence was supposed to be The Doctor water-skiing behind a speedboat. He water-skis onto the shore, meets Jo, they have a little chat and then they go off to the boat. That’s in the shot list and Michael Briant had obviously planned to do it. Do you recall if any of that was ever done?” – Richard Bignell
“That was just to keep Jon happy. He did everything on and in water. He taught me how to snorkel, really useful for a woman who can’t see! Pointing to large fish and I’m going ‘Where?’. Little things like that were fun to see when you’re going to do something but you’re not really though.” – Katy Manning
“The music in this story [‘The Sea Devils’] has divided fans. What is Katy’s opinion of the soundtrack?”
“It’s wonderfully electronic, wacky and weird. If you think of things under the water, it somehow in a weird way went with it. It would have been wrong if it had been music of this Earth which a lot of times you do get. I rather like the fact that it was unearthly, it definitely had a feeling of under the water, of sonar sounds. Also my granddaughter, I haven’t put it up on Twitter, has done an extraordinary version of it at the age of six!” – Katy Manning
“You had lots of scenes with Edwin Richfield in ‘The Sea Devils’ who gave a great supporting performance, any comments or memories working with him?”
“The moment you mention Edwin Richfield, he made me giggle so much. Edwin was one of those people who just made me giggle, it was really, really difficult to look at him because he was a wonderful actor but such a naughty boy!”
“I just wanted to say how much every single person who worked on my last box set, who worked on this, Chris Chapman, everything we did on this was done with so much commitment and so much love. I just wanted to thank everybody and all of you for being here and loving the show!” – Katy Manning
BlogtorWho would like to thank those at the BFI for their hospitality.