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Louise Jameson: 'West End or Fringe? Fringe theatre is up there for me'

Actress and former Doctor Who star Louise Jameson is about to open in Philip Ridley's visceral play about hate crime Vincent River, here she answers our 20 questions about the play and her career

Louise Jameson in Vincent River
© David Monteith Hodge

1. How would you describe Vincent River in five words?
Visceral, provocative, moving, brutal, tender.

2. How would you describe your character, Anita?
A survivor who is on the edge.

3. What do you enjoy the most about starring in this production?
The challenge of sustaining such intense emotions for 90 minutes, the interaction with my co-star Tom Mahy, an extremely talented young man with his whole future before him.

4. Philip Ridley's plays have a reputation for being violent, brilliant and challenging, have you worked on one before?

5. Are you a Philip Ridley fan?
I am now... his poetry I know of course, but I hadn't read this play before director Robert Chevara offered it to me. It's such a brutal subject, bathed in such lyricism. I think it's brilliant.

6. Did you jump at the chance to play Anita?

7. You've worked extensively on screen, stage, West End and Off-West End – do you have a preference?
It's script based, but fringe theatre really is up there for me. Intimate theatre, with audiences that want their lives and thoughts and emotions to be challenged.

8. What do you find hardest about performing in this show?
Keeping emotionally focussed.

9. What's your earliest memory in entertainment?
Aged 4, playing Little Miss Muffet rather brilliantly at prep school.

10. What do you consider to be your big break?
I suppose being Doctor Who's assistant 'put me on the map' but three years with the RSC when I was straight out of college was the best training ground I could have had.

11. What would you have been if you hadn't become a performer?
A theoretical physicist.

12. What is it that draws you to acting?
Knowing that I am debating dangerous subjects in a safe place.

13. Had you always thought you would be an actress?

14.Who are your idols?
I don't really have idols. But I once met Nelson Mandela, and thought, now I can die happy.

15. If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
At the moment it would be allowing Obama to still be President and to still be part of Europe.

16. What have you seen onstage recently?
Barber Shop Chronicles and The Ferryman – both brilliant.

17. What was it like working on Doctor Who? Do you look back on it favourably?
At the time I didn't enjoy it. Now I look on it and Tom (Baker) with huge affection. And, of course, Leela still goes on, with the Doctor Who - Big Finish audio productions.

18. What do you do to unwind in your spare time?
What spare time? I write. I direct.

19. What would your dream role be?
Cleopatra, Lady Bracknell, Mad Meg… I'd love to do a huge blockbuster movie. I'm currently writing a script for one. It's currently called Sister, Sister.

20. What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Leave your ego in the wings.

Vincent River runs at Park Theatre from 23 March to 14 April, with previews from 20 March.