In Orphan 55, the Doctor meets Kane, a woman trying to keep safe a holiday resort with secrets. But where have you seen her before?
Not only has Scotland’s Laura Fraser had a successful career spanning 25 years but she has been a regular presence in some of the period’s best genre television. She’s now finally added an appearance on Doctor Who to that CV, guest-starring as Kane in Orphan 55. But Blogtor Who takes look at the path that’s brought her here.
Fraser would have first come to many Blogtor Who readers’ attention in 1996’s Neverwhere. Co-written by Neil Gaiman (The Doctor’s Wife) and Lenny Henry (Barton in Spyfall), it’s almost unique in the former’s career. Although Neverwhere became a novelization by Gaiman, a comic, an audio drama and even a stage play, it’s one of his only projects that actually started life as a television project. It was also a conscious attempt to return the SF/fantasy to British screens in an era it seemed extinct. As such Fraser made a deep impression as central character Door. The mysterious Door is a citizen of the netherworld of ‘London Below’ with the power to magically open any door. It also set her against future Doctor Peter Capaldi as the Angel Islington, embittered by his long assignment to Earth.
From Neverwhere to Breaking Bad, Laura Fraser has spent her career in series that changed television
Ten years later she was again teamed with an upcoming Doctor in Russell T Davies’ Casanova. This time she was teamed with David Tennant as the Venitian womanizer’s one true love. In both roles, Fraser showed a mix of toughness, whimsy, vulnerability and intelligence equally in the characters and in her approach to her performance. It’s unavoidable to speculate that had Davies been considering potential female Doctors to replace Christopher Eccleston, Fraser would have been high on his list. She was soon reunited with Tennant in Single Father. There he memorably played a widower, and she the wife who, in flashback, continues to guide and inspire him.
Her other roles show a similar flair for picking projects both dramatic and important. She starred as Cat, one of the corners defining the love triangle that drove lesbian drama Lip Service in the early 00s. Lip Service changed the television landscape in terms of its depiction of lesbian relationships. And Fraser went on to another game-changing TV show: Breaking Bad. In the final season of the drama about a chemistry teacher turned drug lord, and then in two seasons of its spin-off Better Call Saul, she played the supporting role of Lydia. In contrast to many of Fraser’s roles, Lydia showed a mix of ruthlessness and cowardice. As a chemical company executive supplying raw materials for meth production, she was an essential part of the action. And “Well, goodbye Lydia” ultimately became the final words in Breaking Bad.
After recent years in a succession of tough crime dramas, Fraser has finally arrived in Doctor Who
But Breaking Bad is far from the only hard-hitting drama in which Fraser has played her part. In series two of The Missing, she played Sgt. Eve Stone, assigned the difficult case when a soldier’s daughter first goes missing and then returns with a terrifying story to tell. Then in The Loch, she plays a small town DCI who must team up with her colleague dispatched from the big city (The Witchfinders’ Siobhan Finneran) to track down a serial killer. While most recently Traces has seen her as a professor of pathology who leads a team of students uncovering an old case.
It’s unclear yet exactly which side Fraser’s Kane will be on in Orphan 55. Though the trailer appears to show her helping the Doctor investigate the mystery. But whether as a hero or villain Laura Fraser has a track record that shows her as a remarkable talent more than up to the task.
Doctor Who Series 12 continues at 7.10pm next Sunday with Orphan 55
Having decided that everyone could do with a holiday, the Doctor takes Graham, Yasmin, Ryan to a luxury resort for a spot of rest and relaxation. However, they discover the place where they are having a break is hiding a number of deadly secrets. What are the ferocious monsters that are attacking Tranquillity Spa?
Doctor Who Series 12 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Tosin Cole (Ryan). Chris Chibnall is showrunner, with Matthew Strevens Executive Producer. Orphan 55 is written by Ed Hime and directed by Lee Haven Jones. Guest-starring Laura Fraser and James Buckley.