EXCLUSIVE: Janet Fielding, ‘I was terrified of the Daleks’

The aussie companion looks back on her time in the Tardis.
Loading the player...

When Brisbane-born actress Janet Fielding successfully auditioned to become Doctor Who’s new companion in 1980, she never imagined she’d still be flying in the Tardis all these years later!

Now 70, Janet played the very feisty Tegan Jovanka, and tells us, “The companions never really did more than three years.”

WATCH NOW: Doctor Who: Janet Fielding Interview. Article continues after video.

Thus Janet went into the job thinking she might only last 12 months if her character didn’t “work” or connect with Doctor Who’s rabid fan base.

However, the world immediately fell in love with Tegan, who remains one of the most memorable classic companions of all time.

Doctor Who turns 60! (Credit: New Idea)

“She was the world’s crankiest air stewardess!” Janet says with a laugh.

“I always thought of her like Lucy in [the comic strip] Charlie Brown – she was Lucy in space.

“Tegan was not going to take nonsense from anybody, least of all the Doctor.”

New Idea is catching up with Janet to celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary.

The milestone will be marked in a few weeks with a three-part TV special that sees the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, returning as the Time Lord.

Ncuti Gatwa will then take over as the Fifteenth Doctor for the new season.

Although Janet watched Doctor Who growing up, she was never a superfan.

She admits that, as a girl, she “was terrified of the Daleks and Cybermen”.

Janet then and now… (Left: Supplied, Right: New Idea)

The first Doctor Janet co-starred with was the Fourth, played by Tom Baker.

She then did two seasons with the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. She also acted in a 1985 sketch with the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, and helped audition the Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy.

And just last year, Janet made a triumphant return to Doctor Who, co-starring with three other companions and Jodie Whittaker, the Thirteenth and first female Doctor.

“I hadn’t learnt any lines for 35 years, and that was not fun,” Janet admits.

“But I still had an absolute ball.

“The biggest change for me was there were no rehearsals. You just had to get on and do it. We used to have 10 days of rehearsals and three days filming in the studio.”

Janet laments that it took so long to have a female Doctor.

“Why would a Time Lord who is so intelligent choose to be a male?” she asks with a shrug.

And while she never had any aspirations to become a Doctor herself, Janet did fancy playing a villain because “they look rather fun”.

Janet and Peter Davison, 1983. (Credit: Getty)

Of all the Doctors Janet worked with, Peter Davison remains her favourite. Their partnership is considered one of the show’s most memorable pairings and they are still working together all these years later, on Doctor Who audio dramas.

Janet jokes that the science-fiction drama has become a family affair for Peter.

His daughter Georgia is married to David Tennant. Georgia has also appeared in the show, as has one of her and David’s children.

“I think Doctor Who is going to go for 100 years, at least, and somebody connected to Peter will be involved,” Janet predicts.

“When we come to the 100th anniversary, it will involve one of his descendants, perhaps even playing the Doctor.”

Janet returned home to Australia earlier this year for a series of low-key Doctor Who fan events. She also caught up with her three brothers who still live here.

Aside from Tegan, Janet’s favourite companions are Rose (played Billie Piper) and Donna (Catherine Tate). (Credit: Getty)

The actress loves attending these fan conventions, as she gets to spend time with many of her former co-stars and travel the world.

However, she does try and limit her appearances.

“You could do one a week!” Janet tells us.

“But I try and do three or four a year maximum.”

When her first stint on Doctor Who ended Janet worked as a theatrical agent for seven years. She even represented the Eighth Doctor Paul McGann!

She also helped found the UK branch of Women in Film and Television. Janet now runs an arts charity for youth in the UK.

“I turned 70 this year and I want to slow down a bit,” she says.

Even so, she would jump at the chance to go into space if it was ever offered.

“I’d be there like a moonshot,” Janet promises with a twinkle in her eye.

Related stories