Doctor Who Convention Encounters: Janet Fielding

The last couple of times I’ve written about going to a convention sometime in 1985 or 1986, and meeting Doctor Who stars like Carole Ann Ford and Jon Pertwee. Another one of the celebrities in attendance was Janet Fielding.

(Daily Doctor Who #81)

Janet Fielding is one of Doctor Who‘s longer lasting companions, having played Tegan Jovanka starting at the end of Season 18 and going until about halfway through Season 21. She appeared in Tom Baker’s last story as the 4th Doctor, and all but two of Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor stories.

Janet Fielding was one of about half a dozen main guests at this convention. As I mentioned previously, they all appeared in-character in a skit that kicked the convention off, which I wandered in on part way into. There was a bit where she gave an impressive blood-curdling scream which I’ll talk about another time, and also she and Carole Ann Ford (Susan) spent occasionally whining “If my Doctor were here…!” loudly in unison.

During her on-stage presentation, I remember that a fan asked Janet Fielding to do her “Mara-laugh”–the evil laugh she gave in Kinda and / or Snakedance when she was possessed by the villainous Mara. But the actress refused–I got the impression it was the sort of thing she was always being asked to do and always refused.

I remember he on the autograph line being friendly and congenial. She noticed that I was wearing a pin of Katy Manning (because I liked Jo Grant) and asked me if I’d ever met her, which I hadn’t.

I don’t know if it came up because Katy Manning lived in Australia, where Janet Fielding was born. (And of course none of knew that eventually, I’d live in Australia and be a citizen of the country.)

There must have been some sort of per-person or per-item limit on autographs, because she noticed when I tried to line up a second time and politely declined. Still, I was able to get a signature in my autograph book, where she offered me, “Best of British”…whatever that means, precisely.

And of course I had a nice photograph of her signed as well, which did with “Rabbits!”, an occasional epithet that Tegan used in a couple of stories written by Christopher H. Bidmead, the character’s creator.

It’s not something I’ve ever heard anyone say in real life, either in my short visit to England or in my years in Australia. But now living in Australia and knowing what a pest the creatures are here, it does make a certain sort of sense!


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