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Content Starts The Times Posts Obituary for Jacqueline Hill

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Source: The Times

Jacqueline Hill, actress, died from cancer on February 18 aged 63. She was born on December 17, 1929.

Best known as one of the four original characters in the first Dr Who television series, Jacqueline Hill also played leading roles in a number of outstanding television plays in the 1950s and 1960s, including starring opposite a then-unknown Sean Connery.

Born in Birmingham, she was orphaned at an early age and raised by a grandmother. To support her younger brother, she was forced to leave school. But while working at Cadbury’s she won a scholarship taking her backstage at the Birmingham Rep and then to RADA where she won a number of awards.

After she appeared briefly on a television talent show, Sam Wanamaker selected her for a supporting role in The Shrike in the West End. An ability to speak with an American accent, without any of the exaggerations common among British actors at the time, allowed her to create coveted roles during a period of television drama when many of the early plays were written by Americans. She starred in Three Empty Rooms, the first play by Reginald Rose to be televised in this country, and subsequently in Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight opposite Sean Connery.

In her acting she conveyed a singular vulnerability with hidden depths: “smouldering fires of attractiveness,” wrote the Yorkshire Post.

Her other television work included The Man Who Came to Dinner with Leo McKern; The Legend of Pepito with Sam Wanamaker; Romeo & Juliet with Alan Rickman and Paradise Postponed with Michael Hordern. Her films included The Blue Parrot with Dermot Walsh and The Comedy Man with Kenneth More.

Jacqueline Hill joined William Hartnell in a new BBC concept about space travellers in 1963 and stayed with the series for three years. The cult acclaim of Dr Who led to fan mail from across the world. Cast as Barbara Wright, teacher of the Doctor’s grandchild forced to travel through time, her character unusual for a woman in the 1960s would stand for no-nonsense from the Doctor; she was the only one onboard the TARDIS who could hold her own against the irascible Time Lord.

In the 1970s, Jacqueline Hill virtually retired to concentrate on raising her children, returning to the screen only occasionally. A few years ago she re-appeared in Dr Who, this time as a villainess opposing the good Doctor. And she appeared more recently as Lady Capulet in Romeo & Juliet in the BBC Shakespeare series.

She is survived by her husband, the film and television director Alvin Rakoff, and by a daughter and a son.

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