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Obituary: Deborah Watling

Deborah Watling in 2008. Photo James Dimelow/Wikimedia Deborah Watling in 2008. Photo James Dimelow/Wikimedia

Born into a theatrical family – her father was the actor Jack Watling, her mother Patricia Hicks – Deborah Watling will be best remembered for her ear-piercing, alien-killing scream as the time-displaced Victorian companion to Patrick Troughton’s Doctor Who in the late 1960s.

By then she was already a veteran of stage and screen, having made her film debut at the age of three, and her first stage appearance at 12 in Lesley Storm’s Roar Like a Dove at the Frinton Summer Theatre in 1960.

After a brief spell at the Italia Conti stage school, her television breakthrough had come in 1965 when she took the lead role in Dennis Potter’s Alice in Wonderland. In 1969, she joined her father on screen in The Newcomers but television was to play a diminishing part in her career thereafter.

She made her West End debut in 1970 in Terence Rattigan’s Bequest to the Nation at the Haymarket Theatre and was seen as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1972.

Later West End appearances included George Ross and Campbell Singer’s The Sack Race (Ambassadors Theatre, 1974), JB Priestley’s Laburnum Grove (Duke of York’s Theatre, 1977), Bill Naughton’s Alfie, with Adam Faith (Queen’s Theatre, 1993) and Marc Camoletti’s Don’t Dress for Dinner (Duchess Theatre, 1993).

She toured extensively, notably in Royce Ryton’s Your Place or Mine (1979), Rattigan’s French Without Tears (1983), Michael Frayn’s Noises Off (1987) and Ray Cooney’s Wife Begins at Forty (1990) and also appeared in pantomime.

Her last appearance on stage was as Mrs Alving in Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts at Frinton in 2004.

She published her autobiography, Daddy’s Girl, in 2010.

Deborah Patricia Watling was born on January 2, 1948 and died on July 21, aged 69.

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