Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy Early Birthday,Katy Manning!
                            In writing this it just rather occurred to me that this is the first birthday blog I've done for one of the people to portray a Doctor Who companion. But this is a very special one for me anyway. Having said goodbye to Caroline John earlier this year I actually realized with the passing of her,Elizabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney all within a years time (not to mention Jon Pertwee's passing in 1996) that Katy Manning is one of the last survivors of the third doctor era of Doctor Who. Her brash,in your face personality and general good nature have certainly given her a shot in the arm in terms of being not only a spokeswoman for her era of Doctor Who but for the accompanying Children In Need charity as well. Here's a little more about her and my reflections on the character she bought to life:the third doctors second and often misunderstood companion Josephine "Jo" Grant.

                        The daughter of a sports columnist,Katy attempted an American acting career through MGM following a year long recuperation from a car accident she was involved in at age 16. Perhaps this made her closer than others to injured and afflicted youth.  After a five year stint at MGM Katy returned to England to study at the  Webber Douglas Academy Of Dramatic Arts.  That was followed by a three year stints with the Wolverhampton repertory company. She joined the cast of Doctor Who in 1971 as a replacement for Caroline John. She along with Courtney (as the Brigadier) John Levene (a Sgt. Benton) and Richard Franklin (as Mike Yates) are often known as the UNIT family,the core part of the doctors task force on Earth. Known for her occasionally clumsiness on set due to her poor eyesight,she became close to the cast as she continued. In particular with Jon Pertwee. This led to a similar interaction between the doctor and her character Jo Grant.

                  Though Katy Manning herself didn't consider feminism a particularly important element for her character to contend with,as would be the case with Elizabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith,Jo Grant is often written off as a companion who seemed to exist primarily to be at every villains mercy and therefore always in need to be rescued by the doctor. What I notice about the character is a certain similarity to another unlucky fictional character: Charlie Brown. Though Jo is often viewed as a one dimensional character,Katy's terrific performance in the role helped me to realize that Jo Grant's character was all about developing a strong reputation. Even when your considered bad luck by some people. She probably had the most personal growth of any Who companion up to that point as a result. So happy 66'th Katy on the 15'th of this month! Hope,as with many Whovians out there,that you have fun!


One of my favorite Katy Manning moments caught on tape:


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