Born: 14th October 1946 (as Catherine Ann Manning)
Katy Manning was born in Guildford, Surrey, and was a dancer and a model during her teenage years. A friendship with Liza Minnelli brought her into contact with a variety of stars, such as Noël Coward and James Mason. However, when she was sixteen, Manning was involved in a terrible car accident; her back and both legs were broken, and she required facial skin grafts. With her dancing aspirations at an end, Manning convalesced in America with her sister, model Jane Dressler. While there, she was offered a contract with MGM Studios. When her father insisted that she instead return to England, Manning enrolled at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.
After completing her training, Manning worked in repertory theatre and made her television debut in a 1970 episode of Softly Softly: Task Force. Two installments of Man At The Top followed but, by the time they aired in 1971, Manning had already been cast as Jo Grant in Doctor Who. Although she had arrived at her audition late -- having gone to the wrong building -- and without the glasses she needed to read the script -- since she suffered from extreme near-sightedness -- Manning nonetheless charmed Doctor Who producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks with her scatterbrained personality and her ability to improvise.
Manning made her debut in Terror Of The Autons. When teasing by a crewmember regarding her myopia nearly convinced Manning that she was on the verge of being fired, series star Jon Pertwee came to her defense. Pertwee and Manning quickly forged a bond which was as indelible on-screen as off. She remained on Doctor Who for three years, becoming the longest-serving female companion to that point in time. Manning left in The Green Death, in which Jo fell in love with the Doctor-ish scientist Clifford Jones -- played by her own long-term boyfriend, Stewart Bevan.
Manning's next project was an arts programme called Serendipity. Her career then focussed on the theatre, with rare television appearances including Target and the Pertwee-hosted quiz show Whodunnit?. Manning also had roles in the films Don't Just Lie There, Say Something! and Eskimo Nell. However, scarcity of work -- which she partly blamed on being typecast after her years on Doctor Who -- led her to work in a florist's and even appear naked, and draped over a Dalek, for an issue of the magazine Girl Illustrated.
In the late Seventies, Manning's relationship with actor Dean Harris resulted in the birth of twins Georgie and JJ. Her children suffered from health problems associated with their premature arrival, so Manning elected to move with them to the warmer climate of Australia. She made occasional appearances in Australian film and television, such as the children's movie Frog Dreaming and the animated series Gloria's House. In 1990, she began a relationship with Australian entertainer Barry Crocker which endures to the present day. Manning obtained her Australian citizenship in 2004. Although her Antipodean residence prevented her from accepting invitations to return to Doctor Who, she was able to voice the time-travelling Iris Wildthyme for Big Finish Productions, starting with Excelis Dawns in 2002. Manning then began reprising Jo Grant for the company with 2008's The Doll Of Death, an installment of The Companion Chronicles.
In 2009, Manning made the decision to reside more regularly in the United Kingdom. The same year, she appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in her own one-woman show, Me And Jezebel. In 2010, Manning brought Jo -- now billed under the character's married surname, Jones -- back to television for the first time in thirty-seven years, when she appeared alongside Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith and her successor as companion, Elisabeth Sladen, in Death Of The Doctor for the fourth season of The Sarah Jane Adventures. In 2013, she enjoyed a cameo in the comical fiftieth-anniversary celebration The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Other television around the same time included an episode of Casualty, while Manning could also be seen in the movies Run For Your Wife and Evil Never Dies.
|Updated 1st August 2020|
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