Image Credit: James Ashworth
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James Ashworth looks back on the career of Jackie Lane
In many ways, the role of Dodo Chaplet was fitting for Jackie Lane. Though shying away from the limelight, both her Doctor Who character and her real-life personality give off a sense of fun which belied their resourcefulness and independence. When Dodo was cut off before her time, Jackie established herself as a successful businesswomen, who never quite left behind the time she spent in showbusiness.
Jacqueline Joyce Lane was born in July 1941 into a theatrical family. According to her interview with Reeltime Pictures’ Myth Makers series, this gave her the acting bug from a young age, performing in amateur dramatics and later repertory theatre. She subsequently migrated into television, with roles in rival soap operas Compact and Coronation Street.
Her foray into Doctor Who could have come much sooner, auditioning for the role of Susan but backing out when she realised it would be a long-running part; not wishing to tie herself down at that time. While Susan is, of course, the Doctor’s grandchild, it is arguably later companions, in the form of Vicki and Dodo, who embody the role of relative more closely. If Vicki is the loving tween, Dodo is perhaps the slightly more rebellious teenager, who still loves her grandparent but is beginning to strike out on their own. Jackie Lane threw herself into this role, bringing life to a character who acquaints herself with space travel without missing a beat, even if she does almost bring about the end of the human race. The playfulness that she lends to the character hides a sharper edge, ensuring that whether she’s holding Doc Holliday at gunpoint, or threatening the Elders, she’s much more than just a Susan stand-in.
Unfortunately, this agency was taken from Jackie when she left unceremoniously during The War Machines, following Innes Lloyd’s decision to end Dodo’s time on the show – something she described as an “anti-climax”. Though she spent some time outside the industry, she would later return to showbusiness as a theatrical agent, representing Tom Baker among other Doctor Who alumni. Jackie went on to establish her own agency, where she ensured that Innes Lloyd received his just desserts for his decision to end her time on Doctor Who. As quoted in Doctor Who Magazine‘s 30th anniversary special, when the former producer came looking for work, she reminded him of Dodo’s ignominious end, and sent him on his way with “a very firm ‘no’.”
Though her work as an agent never saw her fully re-enter in the world of Doctor Who, she occasionally popped her head through the door. She took part in one convention, and subsequently took part in some private signings for Fantom Films as well as a brief appearance in their Time-Space Visualiser virtual convention. Perhaps her most memorable recent appearance was as part of Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty, adding a charming moment to the otherwise rather chaotic proceedings.
Jackie Lane passed away in June 2021, leading to an outpouring of love for an actor who made her short role in Doctor Who a memorable one. Not one to be defined by her life on screen, she led a life just as she chose it. She will be much missed.