Interview with Jacqueline Pearce

Below are some excerpts from my interview with Jacqueline Pearce. The interview took place in the Main Hall at the convention. Two sofas had been set angled towards each other with a coffee table between them, and projected onto a screen behind us was the ‘Eclectic 21’ logo with ‘David Walsh In Conversation With Jacqueline Pearce’ below.

I walked onto the stage in my Alternative Servalan persona, put my clipboard & clutch bag on the coffee table, and gave the following introduction:

“Good afternoon everybody. Well, we all know why we’re here, so without further ado, please welcome to the stage the Supreme Empress herself, Jacqueline Pearce..!”

Jacqueline walked onto the stage to thunderous applause, and sat on the nearest sofa. I sat on the other sofa to conduct the interview, highlights of which follow.

D: “Good afternoon Jacqueline”

J: “Hello David”

D: “Right, lets get the ball rolling, (grin) why acting?”

J: “(laughing) Why not? I think because it was really the only thing I could do, originally I wanted to be a ballerina, and that’s still my greatest love. But I didn’t have the talent; I was fortunate at school to have a wonderful drama teacher, who should have been a great actress herself.”

D: “Did you ever think of doing ballet professionally yourself? Only you said you didn’t have the talent?”

J: “Well I studied it for about 12 years. I find the whole experience of ballet, watching it anyway, quite enchanting. Particularly Russian ballet, and classical ballet. The combination of the stories and the costumes and the theatres, everything is all so… um, it’s a wonderful fairy story that appeals to my imagination and you don’t get the opportunity to work in that degree of ‘bigness’ in theatre, the way you do in ballet or opera.”

D: “Now you were in an episode of ‘The Avengers’ back in the 60’s with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. What would you have said if they had offered you the part of an Avenger girl?”

J: “Well do you know they almost did. I was up for it and decided I didn’t want to do it. Can you imagine? (both laughing) And I went off to America instead. (laughing) I stayed for 3 years and really blew my career big time. I have no regrets about it, I probably would have been hopeless at it, and I’m not a very physical person. I really couldn’t see myself leaping about all over the place in Black leather (both laughing) or leaping around at all really, it would have a very different type of Avengers that’s for sure. (still laughing!)”

D: “Moving on to Blake’s 7, is it true you originally auditioned for the role of Cally?”

J: “No, I didn’t audition at all actually. I would have loved to have played Cally. Thinking about it that’s a wonderful part; I liked all that other worldness and flitting off and doing other things in her mind. But the original part of Servalan was offered to an actress called Mary Miller. She and I were doing a play together in the West End at the time and Mary, if you knew her, couldn’t be more different to me, and she turned it down. I think it was Vere (Lorimer), I don’t know how his thinking went from Mary to me, we couldn’t be more different actresses. Perhaps it was because we were in the same show and he didn’t have far to go. But they offered it to me and that’s how I got it.”

D: “(smile) Well I’m glad you did.”

J: “(laughing) So am I!”

D: “The film ‘White Mischief’ umm, the bath scene – were you embarrassed at having to stand up in the bath?”

J: “No not remotely embarrassed, I have no embarrassment about nudity at all, depending on the context. I worked as a artist’s model in Cornwall, which I absolutely adored and was one of the best periods of my life. I could say I went through a load of anxiety, but I couldn’t get my kit off quick enough really.”

D: “You were in ‘Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head’, would you like to do more comedy?”

J: “Oh yes I love it, it’s what I really want to do now. It has to be well written, all good comedy comes from the truth.”

D: “If somebody said we are going to film your story, who would you want playing you?”

J: “(laughing) Me, darling”

D: “Now, Snap Quiz – Pepsi or Coke?”

J: “Coke”

D: “Sweet or Savoury?”

J: “Sweet”

D: “Indian or Chinese?”

J: “Indian”

D: “Chocolate or Sex?”

J: “Chocolate Darling (laughing)”

D: “Cinema or Theatre?”

J: “Theatre”

D: “Romantic meal or Party?”

J: “Romantic meal”

D: “Coronation St or Eastenders?”

J: “Eastenders”

D: “Television or Radio?”

J: “Radio”

D: “Madonna or Cher?”

J: “Madonna”

D: “George Michael or Ricky Martin”

J: “George Michael”

D: “Paul Newman or Paul Darrow?”

J: “(laughing) Who’s Paul Newman?”

D: “Servalan or Sleer?”

J: “Servalan! I loathed Sleer, I really can’t tell you.”

D: “What did you say when they told you about Sleer?”

J: “(laughing) Nothing I can say in polite society!”