It is with deep sadness that BlogtorWho reports the death of actor Jacqueline Pearce. She appeared onscreen in Doctor Who in 1985 and worked extensively with Big Finish. However, to most she will always be Servalan from Blake’s 7.
Jacqueline Pearce trained at RADA, alongside Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt, before launching a career which spanned half a century. Early acting roles during the 1960’s included stints in shows such as ‘Danger Man‘, ‘The Avengers‘ and ‘Callan‘. On the big screen Jacqueline, or Jacks as she often requested to be called, starred in two Hammer Horror movies. In 1966 she appeared in ‘The Reptile‘ and ‘The Plaque of the Zombies‘. She also featured in the Carry On film ‘Don’t Lose Your Head‘. Pearce’s career continued during the 1970’s but it was towards the end of that decade that would see her take on perhaps her most famous role.
Supreme Commander Servalan combined villainy with fabulous glamour. Although originally intended to make only a single appearance, she would go on to appear in all four televised series of ‘Blake’s 7‘ from 1978 to 1981. Her striking character and Pearce’s sexually charged performance, proved an unforgettable hit with viewers. Servalan would become the central recurring villain in the show. By the final series she was practically the second lead in the show opposite Paul Darrow’s Avon.
A few years after Blake’s 7 concluded, Pearce would appear in another BBC sci-fi drama Doctor Who. ‘The Two Doctors‘ was a momentous story for Doctor Who which saw the current incarnation of The Doctor, played by Colin Baker, cross paths with his second incarnation, played by Patrick Troughton. This was the first non-anniversary story to feature more than one Doctor. It also saw Frazer Hines reprise his role as Jamie McCrimmon and a return for the Sontarans after a seven-year absence. Pearce was cast in the role of Chessene, an Androgum who undergoes genetic augmentation. Once again she was a female character with great intelligence. Plotting against her Sontaran allies ultimately proved her undoing as her savage Androgum nature remained. Following Doctor Who Pearce’s television career would continue for a further 20 years.
Jacqueline Pearce would go on to work in other shows including Russell T Davies’ first drama ‘Dark Season’, ‘Casualty‘ and ‘Doctors‘. Unsurprisingly Pearce became a popular guest at conventions, happily discussing both Doctor Who and Blake’s 7. Warm and approachable, she would also work extensively with Big Finish. Her first contribution was in only the fifth Main Range Doctor Who story, ‘The Fearmonger’, released in February 2000. Pearce would appear in the Sarah Jane Smith range of stories before reprising her role as Servalan. More recently she took on the role of Cardinal Ollistra opposite the Eighth and War Doctors in stories set during the Time War.
In 2012 Jacqueline Pearce’s unflinching autobiography was published, titled ‘From Byfleet to the Bush‘. Her extraordinary story of a motherless upbringing and scarring education at the hands of nuns also included tales of Hollywood and London’s West End. Pearce would also recant her life story to Nicholas Briggs for a Big Finish interview release titled ‘Call Me Jacks‘.
Jacqueline Pearce died aged 74 at home in Lancashire on 3rd September 2018.