City of Death and Space: 1999’s Catherine Schell features in Dracula, starting New Year’s Day

In addition to the return of the Doctor, New Year’s Day also sees a new incarnation of a character who’s been a cultural icon for even longer. Following Doctor Who at 6.55pm, Dracula episode one will be on BBC One later that night at 9pm. The fresh new take on Bram Stoker’s lord of the undead comes from the keyboards of Doctor Who writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. And now, thanks to the BBC, we have the first photos of another Doctor Who icon – Catherine Schell.

Schell will be best known to Blogtor Who’s readers for her role in the 1979 Doctor Who serial City of Death. That Douglas Adams story, often considered Tom Baker’s finest hour, saw the Fourth Doctor and Romana travel to Paris. There they encounter art thief (and “beautiful woman, probably,”) Countess Scarlioni (Catherine Schell) and a plot to steal the Mona Lisa. But even the Countess doesn’t suspect her husband’s darkest secret. She’ll also be fondly remembered by aficionados of seventies science fiction as the shape-shifting metamorph Maya, one of the regular cast of Space:1999. While elsewhere she was a Bond girl in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and as the villainous Lady Lytton in The Return of the Pink Panther.

Grand Duchess Valeria (CATHERINE SCHELL), Lord Ruthven (PATRICK WALSH MCBRIDE), Dracula (CLAES BANG) (C) Hartswood Films - Photographer: Robert Viglasky
Grand Duchess Valeria (CATHERINE SCHELL) dines with Dracula ((CLAES BANG). (C) Hartswood Films – Photographer: Robert Viglasky

In Dracula, Gatiss and Moffat cast Schell as a Grand Duchess. But is she his ally, enemy or prey?

Dracula sees Schell step again into aristocratic shoes as Grand Duchess Valeria. Although based on Bram Stoker’s original vision, the new three part series features many original characters created by Moffat and Gattis. Valeria is one of them, so who can say what part she’ll play when Dracula encounters her on his travels. One of the photos shows the two dining together. But what the Grand Duchess will make of the Count’s infamous table manners is yet to be seen.

 

Dracula

In Transylvania in 1897, the blood-drinking Count is drawing his plans against Victorian London. And be warned: the dead travel fast. A new adaptation from the minds of Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Dracula begins New Year’s Day

 

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