Anna Barry ("Anat")


As freedom fighter Anat, Anna Barry helped to save the world from the Day of the Daleks.

[Published in The Essential Doctor Who Issue #9 INVASIONS OF EARTH (Panini UK Ltd, October 2016), pp. 44-45. Posted here by kind permission of Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury.]

“I was working on a short film,” recalls actress Anna Barry. “I was having my make-up done and the girl doing it said, 'Did you have an accident when you were a child?' You see, I had this tiny scar on my forehead. So I said, with a sigh, 'No, I just heal quickly. But three years ago I was in a major car crash – a drunken driver smashed in my head. I've had six operations and I'm blind in one eye.' I'd made a full recovery and didn't want a fuss, but this make-up girl's boyfriend heard me sort of making light of it and said, 'I'd think you'd do for a part that I'm casting...'

This was Paul Bernard, director of Third Doctor story Day of the Daleks (1972), in which a team of desperate freedom fighters travels back in time from the 22nd century to assassinate Sir Reginald Styles (Wilfrid Carter), a politician whose death – they think – will prevent the Daleks from conquering Earth. The freedom fighters are led by Anat.

“I think Anat was one of the first women in uniform to be seen leading a gang on TV,” says Anna. “It was very unusual for the time – though it wouldn't be unusual now, with all the leading women detectives and these Scandinavian series which all have strong women in them.”

So was the director looking for someone who looked like she'd been in the wars? “Well, I didn't, I don't think! I'm someone the medical profession would say makes good scars – in that you hardly see them. When people learned I was blind in one eye, they'd say, 'The glass one's very good.' But it's not a glass eye, it's just that the optic nerve is severed so it doesn't work any more.”

She says this so briskly, so matter-of-factly, it's clear why Paul Bernard cast her.

“Paul then had to run me by [producer] Barry Letts, and Barry happened to have worked with my mother, Judith Gick, in his days as an actor at Bristol Old Vic. He'd known me as a 10- or 12-year-old, and thought it would be fun to use somebody from his past. So that's how I got the part.”

Anna's character, Anat, seems to have been inspired by Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who made headlines when she took part in the hijacking of planes in 1969 and 1970. “Right,” says Anna. “No, I wasn't aware of that. But then I don't think we ever saw the writer [Louis Marks] while we were doing it. There were no rewrites. It was Paul [Bernard, the director], Jon [Pertwee, playing the Doctor] and the cast and the camera crew. We just got on with it.”

“I did think the script was clever,” she continues. “The guy we were trying to kill [Reginald Styles] was running this peace conference, working in the right cause, but not an easy man to work with. I thought that was much more interesting than making him nice – and more real. Doctor Who didn't exactly find him pleasant but knew he had to be saved for the sake of the world.”

But, because of that link to the real Middle East, Anat was named after a Canaanite goddess of war from the early Bronze Age. Was she not asked to play the part with an accent, or made up to look more Middle-Eastern? “Oh no. I had a bit of a tan – I was always out in the sun – but for this I wore minimal make up: a little lippy, some mascara and a tiny bit of eyeliner. I don't think there's much foundation at all. That was good for who she was, but also it doesn't date. And uniform fatigues are still uniform fatigues. So the only thing that looks old is my having rather long hair, which sometimes looks a bit hairdressery.”

It's the men's moustaches that really give away when the story was made. “Oh, I know!” laughs Anna. “But Jon looks wonderful, still, in that beautiful velvet jacket. He was a lot of fun; it all was – it was a good job.”

“The only thing I'm ashamed of,” she adds, “is that terrible scene where I'm running. I just sort of lumber along. If I could go back and do it again, I'd ask for weeks – a month – of runs every morning so I'd look the part on screen. If you're saving the planet you should know how to run.”