In honor of the "Doctor Who" 50th anniversary (which will feature a special feature-length 3D episode including David Tennant and Billie Piper), many familiar faces from the show's past are sharing their memories of the resilient British drama, including the Doctor's very first companion, Carole Ann Ford.
Ford -- who played Susan Foreman, the granddaughter and original companion of the first Doctor (William Hartnell) -- recently opened up to UK newspaper The Telegraph about her experience working on the show from its conception in 1963, and why she blames the series for destroying her acting career.
When Ford got the role at age 20, "it was just another job," she told The Telegraph, and executives at the BBC were reportedly reluctant to pour money into what they considered a show for kids. "The sets were very wobbly. They didn’t think it was going to last,” Ford recalled.
But the show soon became a phenomenon, and Ford left in Season 2 after more than fifty episodes, arguably when the show was reaching the height of its popularity. "It had become so repetitive. For a large part of the time, Susan was arriving somewhere with her grandfather and the other two [teachers who came along for the ride], being told not to get into danger, having them come and get her out of danger, then flying off again. In the meantime, I was watching visiting actors do really interesting stuff," she said.
When she auditioned for new roles, she told the newspaper that she found she had been typecast. "When I left 'Doctor Who,' I was filled with… not loathing, but I was incredibly annoyed because I wanted to do more television and films and the only thing that people could ever see me in was a recreation of what I had done. A Susan clone. Some kind of weird teenager. I wanted to do work that would disconnect me from 'Doctor Who.'"
After playing a prostitute in a procedural, Ford said she got letters of complaint "from parents of small children who had been allowed to stay up late to watch this, because I was in it and they thought it was going to be something akin to 'Doctor Who.' They were saying, 'How dare you do this? You are a role model.’” She agreed with the assessment that the cult show destroyed her screen career: "Yeah. In no small way. Definitely. Nothing shook it off. Nothing."
Having watched the current version of the series, headlined by Matt Smith with new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman, Ford admitted that she was jealous of the portrayal of the show's present female characters: "How I envy them when I look at what they do, and what I had to do ... They do get very sexy, don’t they? I never had such fun in my time.”
Still, Ford is involved in "An Adventure in Space and Time," a dramatized version of the show's creation. Her younger self will be played by Claudia Grant, but Ford will reportedly also have a small role in the special. "It felt so odd, watching the scenes where someone was me. It sent prickles up the back of the neck," she said.
"Doctor Who" airs Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET on BBC America.