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Obituary: Jacqueline Pearce – film and TV star who played Servalan in cult sci-fi classic Blake’s 7

Jacqueline Pearce in Shadowlands at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, in 1992

Best known as the villainous Servalan in Terry Nation’s cult sci-fi classic Blake’s 7 (1978-81) and eponymous monster in Hammer Horror’s The Reptile (1966), Jacqueline Pearce enjoyed a substantial profile in British films and on television but never realised the promise shown as a RADA student on stage.

She made her West End debut in John Mortimer’s The Judge (Cambridge Theatre, 1967) and went on to appear in Simon Gray’s Otherwise Engaged, directed by Harold Pinter (Queen’s Theatre, 1976), Michael Abbensetts’ The Outlaw (Arts Theatre, 1983) and JB Priestley’s Dangerous Corner (Garrick Theatre, 2001).

Regional appearances included John Hale’s Smile Boys, That’s the Style (Glasgow’s Citizens, 1968), Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Northcott Exeter, 1977), William Nicholson’s Shadowlands (Belgrade Coventry, 1992) and Robert Hamilton’s Aphrodite Blues (New End Theatre, 2001).

Her one-woman show, A Star Is Torn, was seen at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1999.

On TV, she was seen in the classic serials David Copperfield (1974) and Daniel Deronda (2002), as Araminta in Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist (1975) and proved a memorable Mariana in Measure for Measure (1979). She was a familiar face guesting in popular shows that ranged from The Avengers and Callan to Doctor Who and Casualty.

Born in Woking, Surrey, an abusive childhood at home and unhappy school years in a Catholic convent prompted often crippling depression in adult life. She also survived drug addiction while living in the US in the late 1960s and a later diagnosis of breast cancer.

She published an autobiography, From Byfleet to the Bush, in 2012.

Jacqueline Kay Pearce was born on December 20, 1943, and died on September 3, aged 74.

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