Louise Jameson

Born: 20th April 1951 (as Louise Marion Jameson)
Episodes Broadcast: 1977-1978, 1993


Louise Jameson was born in Wanstead, London and grew up a few miles to the north, at Woodford Green. From a young age, she was encouraged by her mother to become involved in amateur dramatics, and Jameson had already joined the Wanstead Players by the time she entered her teenaged years. After graduation, she took the time to complete a secretarial course, but soon enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The stage remained Jameson's abiding love, and she spent two years as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company starting in 1973. By that time, she had already had minor television roles in programmes such as Tom Brown's Schooldays and Z Cars, as well as a more significant four-episode stint on the soap opera Emmerdale Farm. Jameson's movie debut came in a 1972 horror called Disciple Of Death.

Upon leaving the RSC, Jameson was determined to win a starring role on television. After appearing in the children's serial Dominic, she spent some time working in a typing pool before successfully auditioning for Doctor Who. Jameson had been recommended for the role of new companion Leela by director Pennant Roberts, who would introduce the character in 1977's The Face Of Evil. Although Leela's longevity was initially in doubt, Jameson's contract was soon extended for Doctor Who's fifteenth season. Unfortunately, she was met with a frosty reception from Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor. He had hoped that producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes would agree with his plan for the Doctor to travel alone in the TARDIS. Baker was also critical of the savage Leela's flesh-baring attire and her propensity for wielding a dagger.

Jameson left Doctor Who after her first full season

Jameson's unhappy relationship with her co-star contributed to her decision to leave Doctor Who after her first full season. New producer Graham Williams was fruitlessly optimistic that he would convince Jameson to change her mind; as a result, Leela's decision to leave the TARDIS to marry Gallifreyan guard Andred in The Invasion Of Time struck many as an arbitrary development. Jameson spent the rest of the decade on stage, with the notable exception of a starring role in the thriller The Omega Factor.

In 1980, Jameson was approached by Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner about reprising Leela to bridge the transition from Baker to the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. Jameson declined, and instead took on a starring role in two seasons of Tenko, which she would later consider to be her career highlight. After giving birth to sons Harry and Tom, she enjoyed a regular role in The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ and then spent five years on Bergerac.

In 1990, Jameson married artist Martin Bedford, although their relationship would not survive the decade. After a prominent role in Rides, she struggled to find more substantial work than guest appearances, in programmes such as Casualty, Wycliffe and the Agatha Christie adaptation The Pale Horse. At the same time, however, Doctor Who began to take on a renewed prominence in Jameson's life. In 1993, she played Leela for the first time in fifteen years for the thirtieth-anniversary charity special, Dimensions In Time. Jameson then began to appear in a number of semi-professional video productions featuring Doctor Who alumni, notably the PROBE series from BBV. She also started teaching drama. Jameson rounded off the Nineties with a thirty-month stint on EastEnders.

With the turn of the century, Jameson began playing Leela for Big Finish Productions' range of Doctor Who audio dramas, starting with the multi-Doctor story Zagreus in 2003. When Tom Baker began working with Big Finish in 2012, he was frequently paired with Jameson -- the two having become good friends over time. In 2014, she and Nigel Fairs co-wrote The Abandoned for the third season of The Fourth Doctor Adventures. Jameson continued to enjoy regular work on both the stage -- amongst which was a 2007 national tour of her one-woman show Face Value -- and the screen, including programmes like The Bill, River City, and the first of five different roles in Doctors.

In the 2010s, Jameson had a regular role in the fifth season of Doc Martin, and could also be seen in Holby City, Toast Of London and Secret Life Of Boys. In 2013, she made a cameo appearance in the fiftieth-anniversary Doctor Who spoof, The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Run For Your Wife was a rare movie role. Jameson continued working into the Twenties, including an appearance on Silent Witness.

Actor, Leela
The Face Of Evil
The Robots Of Death
The Talons Of Weng-Chiang
Horror Of Fang Rock
The Invisible Enemy
Image Of The Fendahl
The Sun Makers
The Invasion Of Time
Dimensions In Time

Updated 6th January 2021