Polly is a character from the television series Doctor Who
, played by Anneke Wills.
Polly's last name was never stated in the TV series, so fans know her as just "Polly." The production material says her surname is Wright - they chose not to use it because they thought people might get confused with the character Barbara Wright. The myth is that her last name is Lopez, which is because an alien using her face gave the name Polly Lopez at an airline check-in desk - and a website I read claims that this was people mishearing a different name. Anneke Wills reportedly preferred "Brettingham-Smith" which does sound appropriate.
Polly was written into the series quite well, rather than being a side player caught up in events her everyday job as secretary to Professor Brett in The War Machines lets her get into the action properly, though by "get into the action" we mean "start screaming" - She's the typical screaming helpless girl. The story goes like this: With the popularity of The Avengers the standard for female characters in the 60's was set by Honor Blackman kicking the crap out of people all the time, and so Anneke thought it would be good to make Polly a screaming posh bird rather than copy Cathy Gale - and at least when she/they realised Polly this way that was the plan, which means we don't see a stronger character going against their established characterization by screaming when they see the monsters (which
just about every all female companions do to necessitate cliffhangers). Anneke also had to take screaming lessons to get that good old-fashioned shrill scream that's a hallmark of a Hammer Films production, and can still manage it - interviewers always seem to ask former Doctor Who actresses to do this, and probably regret it.
The most interesting thing about Polly is that we really don't have much of her to watch. Out of 40 individual episodes only 12 remain (plus some clips that the Ausralian censors removed from other episodes, usually of Polly geting menaced or in one case, eaten). Though the incomplete stories have been released as audio recordings (with Anneke doing the linking narration for some) it's really no use, since we want to see Anneke act. In fact most of Anneke Wills early television work is gone, but she says it lets her move on without looking back and is happy that at least some of it survived.
Okay, I have to admit something now: the initial character outline is crap - she's a cardboard cutout.
24, private secretary to scientist. Father, country doctor in Devon,
four brothers (one older - three younger). Happy and conventional
middle-class background, she has never been tied to her mother's
apron strings - they never know when to expect her home but when
she arrives they are happy to see her. Has been, in turn, a travel courier
- done a small amount of modelling (which she found irksome to her
intelligence and feet).
She loves sports cars, watching motor racing, skiing, clothes, swimming
- pet hates: pomposity, deb's delights, conforming and officials (police to
Intelligent, imaginative, impulsive, inclined to act first, think later. She is
totally undomesticated, cannot sew, knit or cook.
Basically they were trying to mine an audience share by presenting a free spirited girl who didn't conform to the expected norms. Does this sound familiar? Why yes it does! Some things never change in television.... What happened though was the fact that most of these attributes were not used. When you create a character then farm out all your writing to others you should really send them the character outline as well. How bad was it? She got told to make coffee in one story and tea in another.
This is embarassing.
Aside from that Polly got some more interesting traits than her outline suggests: In the course of her travels we find she speaks French, Spanish and German (presumably fluently), knows enough chemistry to knock up a solvent capable of dissolving plastic instantly, is devious enough to play on people's supersitions in the past, and um.... well that's all I can think of (I'll add more if I find them). They really weren't ashamed of using her as the hapless girl.
So what does Polly get to do? Well she gets to be hypnotised by a mad computer, pass herself off as a cabin boy in late 17th century Cornwall, Have the first ethical debate with Cybermen on Doctor Who, gets confused by the Doctor's first regeneration,
helps defeat screams at an army of cardboard Daleks (I shit you not), help save the world from being destroyed by a mad scientist who wanted to turn her into a fish, melt some other Cybermen (It is actually pretty rare for a companion of the Doctor to come up with a way to kill the monsters), get eaten by a gigantic crab and spat back out again, and finally have her face stolen by aliens before haring off with Ben for more nookie.
I'm pretty sure this is what happens even if we are never told.
"Put the kettle on." - Ben, winding up Polly in The Smugglers
If you're a Doctor Who fan then consider Anneke Wills important for this above other things: She is not afraid to talk about the real William Hartnell, who was cantankerous during her time on the show due to his illness and just generally domineering regardless. Other than that she's an interior decorator and painter, and has also done the narration for the audio recordings of her Doctor Who stories. Oh and recently she played some kind of lizard thing in an audio drama called The Sandman.
Here are various pictures of Anneke Wills as Polly (yum):
Here is Anneke Wills' page, which has popups and is very slow:
Character profile was nicked from the Anneke page but only because I was too lazy to type it in from "The Sixties" by Howe, Stammers and Walker and the webmaster/Anneke fan had already done it - yay!
Various pages for The Sandman: