Celebrating Forty years of the Fifth Doctor, Doctor Who star Janet Fielding answers our questions.
Across three stories, featuring classic villains, Peter Davison’s Doctor spends time with his companions Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Turlough (Mark Strickson) and Tegan (Janet Fielding).
In ‘The Auton Infnity’, the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Kamelion reunite with the Brigadier. Together, they’re embroiled in an epic 6-part face off with the Autons… and the Master!
As Tegan Jovanka, Janet Fielding was a lynchpin of early 80s Doctor Who. Playing the outspoken Australian airhostess, she joined the show for Tom Baker’s final story and remained until the latter half of Season 21, appearing in all but two of Davison’s stories.
Brilliantly brash and bossy, Tegan was the no-nonsense companion who wasn’t afraid to give the Doctor both barrels. Off screen, the actress who played her has a reputation for being no less formidable
Next month, Janet Fielding is set to reprise her role in the Doctor Who BBC Centenary Special.
However, she’s also been playing Tegan on audio with Big Finish since 2006.
As the second volume of Forty is released, Janet was kind enough to answer a few of our questions
CultBox: Tegan’s travels onscreen famously ended when it… “stopped being fun”. However, from the moments we hear about behind the scenes, it’s always fun with your TARDIS crew. Is it that camaraderie which keeps you coming back?
Janet Fielding: It is the camaraderie that keeps me coming back, it really is. You know I came back to do ‘The Gathering’, I was persuaded by Gary Russell – I was at a fan convention and I was having a very jolly time with some of the other Doctor Who crew, I think it was Katy Manning and Wendy Padbury, and so I thought ah yeah, I’ll do it.
And then it was just such a good time. We had such a lovely time doing it and I thought oh, okay, I could get used to this. And it’s one of the highlights of my life coming in and doing the Big Finish shows with ‘me old TARDIS crew’. They’re lovely.
CB: Onscreen, we met Tegan’s ill-fated Aunt, her grandad and her cousin Colin. Would you like a story to explore more of the extended Jovanka/Verney/Frazer family.
JF: I suppose I would, in a way. She’s dead now bless her, but Aunt Vanessa [Dolore Whiteman], she became a friend. We lived not far from each other and she was just absolutely wonderful. Mad as a fish, you know, just completely nuts. And very eccentric – I loved her.
And it would be fun to meet more of the Tegan family. There’s been the Grandad and the cousin, and the Aunt. As long as they’re fun characters, always up for that!
CB: Tegan seems to do well in period stories like ‘The Lady of Mercia’ and ‘The Peterloo Massacre’. Is there a time period or historical event you’d be keen for her to witness?
JF: It might be nice to meet somebody like Grace O’Malley, she was the pirate queen of Ireland during the reign of Elizabeth I. She would be a good character and she and Elizabeth I exchanged a lot of letters, I believe, because they were both highly educated women. She’d be interesting.
Who else? You know, maybe my own grandmother. Or, in one of the stories [‘Four to Doomsday’] I speak a bit of [the Aboriginal language] Tiwi, and Tiwi island is off the north coast of Australia where in my backstory I imagine I spent summers sometimes with my grandparents. My maternal grandparents who were teachers and I thought they ran the primary school on the island. So maybe something to do with that? An Australian story might be fun.
CB: Finally, on reflection, do you think Tegan was well-suited to the job of air stewardess – or was she an air-rage incident waiting to happen?
JF: Tegan was the least suitable person to be an air stewardess that you could imagine. She really had zero people skills! Although, once American Airlines were deregulated, I’m here to tell you that she wasn’t that wide of the mark – if you travelled in America at all, you encountered some pretty fierce air stewards!
We’re grateful Janet Fielding for her time – and to the marketing team at Big Finish for organising this interview.
Doctor Who – The Fifth Doctor Adventures: Forty 2 is out on Collectors Edition CD box set (+ download) and on download now.
And Tegan returns onscreen in the Doctor Who BBC Centenary Special this October.