Dr Who companion Louise Jameson on challenging new role at Stratford’s Theatre Royal

British actress Louise Jameson.

British actress Louise Jameson. - Credit: Archant

Former Dr Who companion and EastEnders star Louise Jameson stars in a gritty drama premiering in Stratford next week that seeks to humanise the dysfunctional lives of troubled families.

British actress Louise Jameson playing like Bridie with actor James Farrar at "Gutted", an upcoming

British actress Louise Jameson playing like Bridie with actor James Farrar at "Gutted", an upcoming show at Theatre Royal Stratford East. - Credit: Archant

Readers may recognise Louise from her days co-starrring alongside Tom Baker in the ‘70s as leather-clad barbarian warrior Leela in the cult BBC show, or for her many TV roles including Rosa di Marco in EastEnders, Emmerdale, Doc Martin, and Tenko.

But Louise is returning to the stage where she discovered her passion for acting.

She said: “I played Little Miss Muffet when I was four in the school play and I was a triumph.

“But seriously, I remember waiting by the curtain and hearing the people outside and I caught the bug.

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“I thought ‘I could carry on doing this forever, actually’.”

Growing up in Woodford Green, Louise would often come to Stratford to take poetry exams as a young student but now she’s playing a much darker, adult role in Gutted, a new play by Theatre Royal Stratford East favourite Rikki Beadle-Blair.

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Louise said: “I think it’s one of the most beautiful theatres I’ve ever seen.

“The Theatre Royal and the Hackney Empire are two places London should be very proud of.”

Louise plays Bridie Prospect, matriarch of a family from south east London trying to deal with many dark secrets in a play that tackles taboo subjects such as incest, sexual abuse, parental violence, masculinity, and attitudes towards transgender relationships.

She said: “It’s very dark and it deals with a lot of themes such as incest, and abuse, and poverty but I think there is an overall moral and that is that we are in the driving seat and we cannot let life make our lives s**t.

“Particularly at the moment with all the cuts, there’s something for everyone to take away from it.

“Rikki has this mantra that, when you go into the theatre, you should come away from it slightly altered by what you’ve seen.”

The play has been a welcome challenge for dedicated Louise who makes the two-hour journey to rehearsals from her home in Kent where she’s really put through her paces by director Rikki.

He has high expectations for the play, describing it as “the play I have waited all my life to write.”

Louise added: “It’s just extraordinary writing. It’s a phenomenal piece of work. I am so privileged to be working with Rikki. His enthusiasm and demand on you as an actor is extraordinary.

“It’s almost like being back in drama school, it’s like getting a classical training.

“We’re doing a lot of breathing exercises and improvisation and we’re even doing an hour of aerobics every morning. And I’m 62 next week!

“But I never see work as a pressure, I see it as another adventure.”

In her downtime, Louise is narrating a light-hearted novel for the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) to provide a nice contrast to her hefty role in Gutted.

Afterwards, Louise will be touring her self-penned play My Gay Best Friend which she’s touring in Manchester and Chicago, appearing in a short film, and she will be holding out for the possibility of reprising her role in a Gutted movie - a project director Rikki hopes will come to fruition off the back of the play’s success.

But her days as Leela have also opened up a mystery opportunity as the 50th anniversary of Dr Who approaches.

She said: “I’ve been told to keep three days free for it but I’ve not been given locations, or times, or what I’m doing.

“I’ve just been told not to accept anything for those three days. I’m also floating the idea of doing a one-woman show in which I play a female doctor, a companion, the monsters.

“It would definitely be a send up. It could be played around the fan conventions - I think it might go down very well, actually!”

Gutted will run at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, Stratford, E15 1BN from Friday April 26 to Saturday May 25. Suitable for audiences aged 16 or over.

Newham Discount Night is on Tuesday April 30 with tickets available from £2.50 for residents who are first time bookers.

Tickets range from £5.50 to £21 available from the Box Office, from calling 020 8534 0310 or www.stratfordeast.com.

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