Jacqueline Hill, actress, wife of film and television director Alvin Rakoff, died at her home in Bedford Park. West London on February 18, after a lengthy fight against cancer.
Best known as one of the four original characters in the first series of Dr Who, she also played leading roles in a number of outstanding television plays in the fifties and sixties, including starring opposite a then unknown Sean Connery.
Born of working-class parents in Birmingham on December 17, 1929. she was orphaned at an early age and raised by a grandmother.
To support her younger brother. the late Rev Arthur Hill of Skidby, Yorks, she was forced to leave school. But while working at Cadbury’s she soon won a scholarship taking her backstage at Birmingham Rep. Then on to RADA where she won a number of awards.
After appearing briefly on a television talent show, Sam Wanamaker selected her for a supporting role in The Shrike in the West End. An ability to accurately convey an American accent, without any of the exaggerations common among British actors at the time, allowed her to create coveted roles during what is called ‘the golden age’ 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, culminating 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 beauty was often compared to RADA classmate, Joan Collins, but Jacqueline Hill was always considered more aloof and more regal.
Her other television work included The Man Who Came to Dinner with Leo McKern; The Seat of the Scournful with Basil Sydney; The Six Pound Walkers; The Legend of Pepito with Sam Wanamaker; The Velvet Alley: Romeo And Juliet with Alan Rickman, Paradise Postponed with Michael Hordern, etc.
Her films included The Blue Parrot with Dermot Walsh and The Comedy Man with Kenneth More
She joined William Hartnell in a new BBC concept about space travellers in 1963 and stayed with the series for three years. The cult acclaim for 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 sixties – would stand for no nonsense from the Doctor; the only one on board the Tardis who could hold her own against the irascible Time Lord.
Then, in the seventies, Jacqueline Hill virtually retired to concentrate on raising her children, returning to the screen only occasionally.
A few years ago she reappeared in Dr Who, this time as a villainess opposing the good Doctor. She appeared more recently as Lady Capulet in Romeo And Juliet in the BBC Shakespeare series; and amongst a stellar cast in Paradise Postponed.
She is survived by her husband and her daughter, Sasha Victoria and her son. John Dmitri.Categorised in: News