Who is Lalla Ward?
Lalla Ward is a successful British actress, best known for her role of Romana in the popular English television production, ‘Doctor Who’. That apart, she is equally successful as an author, a textile artist, a ceramist and a narrator. Born as Honorable Sarah Jill Ward to 7th Viscount Bangor and his fourth wife,she developed an early interest in acting, drawing and painting,. At the age of seventeen, she entered Central School of Speech and Drama and graduated from there at twenty. In the same year, she debuted in film, taking up Lalla as her professional name. Thereafter for two decades, she continued to work extensively on stage, films and television productions, making a name for herself. But, she gave up acting soon after her second marriage and began to concentrate on narrating and painting, providing illustrations for books like ‘Climbing Mount Improbable’, ‘Astrology for dogs (and owners)’ etc.
Childhood & Early Life
Lalla Ward was born on 28 June 1951 in London, England. Her father, Edward Henry Harold Ward, 7th Viscount Bangor, was an Anglo-Irish peer, journalist, war correspondent, and author. Her mother, writer and BBC producer Marjorie Alice Banks, was her father’s fourth wife.
Sarah was born elder of his parents’ two children, having a younger brother named Edward Nicholas Ward. From his father’s earlier marriage, she also has a half-brother named William Maxwell David Ward, now the 8th Viscount Bangor.
As a toddler, she could not pronounce Sarah and so called herself Lalla, which later became her professional name. She also hated school and stopped attending her classes at the age of fourteen, later taking her O-level examination on her own.
In 1968, she was enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama, studying there till 1971. Although a little overawed in the beginning, she soon began to enjoy herself at the School.
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In 1971, Sarah was cast as Helga in the British horror film, ‘Vampire Circus’, being credited in it as Lalla Ward, a name she continued to use throughout her career. The film was released in UK on 30 April, 1972.
In 1973, she appeared in two films; in the title role of Matushka in ‘Matushka’ and as Young Kate in ‘England Made Me’. Also in 1973, she debuted on television, appearing as Davina Seacroft in six episodes of ‘Upper Crust’ and one episode each in ‘Van der Valk’ and ‘The Protectors’
In 1974, she had her fourth film, ‘Got It Made’ released, appearing in it in the star role of Tessa Carmichael. The shots from this film would later be reused under the title of ‘Sweet Virgin’ with love scenes being enacted by new actors and released in 1978.
On March 24, 1975, she was seen in the movie ‘Rosebud’ appearing in it in the role of Margaret Carter. Also in the same year, she appeared as Tracy Fischer in the ‘Thundersky’ episode of the British drama television series, ‘Quiller’.
In 1976, she was cast as Princess Elizabeth in ‘The Prince and the Pauper’, which was released in UK on 3 June 1977. Also in 1977, she appeared as Lottie in five episodes of ‘Duchess and Duke Street’ and as Jo Hebden in one episode of ‘Who Pays the Ferryman?’
On 17 March 1978, ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ was released in the USA as ‘Crossed Swords’. In the same year, she appeared in two television productions; as Jill Haydon in one episode of ‘The Professional’ and as Sarah Courtney in the ‘Hazell Meets the First Eleven’ episode of ‘Hazell’
In January 1979, she guest starred as Princess Astra in the ‘The Armageddon Factor: Part One’ episode of ‘Doctor Who’. It led to her being chosen to play Romana in the same television production, replacing the original actress, Mary Tamm; she continued to play the role till 1981.
In 1980, she appeared as Ophelia in the BBC television production of ‘Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark’, directed by Rodney Bennet. Also in the same year, she provided illustrations for ‘Astrology for dogs (and owners)’ by William Fairchild.
In 1980s, she wrote two books on knitting and one on embroidery, publishing ‘Beastly Knits’, knitting pattern book, in December 1985. Concurrently, she continued to act, appearing as Anastasia Devine in the 1982 television film, ‘Schoolgirl Chums’.
In 1990s, she decided to give up acting and instead concentrated on illustration works, illustrating books like ‘Climbing Mount Improbable’. Concurrently, she continued appearing in audio plays and started recording audio books like ‘The Selfish Gene’ and ‘The Language Instinct’ etc.
Also in 1990s, she began working with textile and ceramic, holding number of exhibitions in reputable galleries. The themes varied from evolution of animals on islands as in ‘Stranded’ (2010) to camouflage as in ‘Vanishing Act’ (2013).
Lalla Ward is best known for her role in ‘Doctor Who’, appearing in it in the role of Romana from September 1979 till March 1981. She later reprised the character in the 1993 charity special ‘Dimensions in Time’ and also in the 2003 webcast version of ‘Shada’.
Family & Personal Life
On 13 December 1980, Lalla Ward married her ‘Doctor Who’ costar, Tom Baker. The couple divorced in early 1982, sixteen months after their wedding.
In 1992, she married evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins. The couple separated amicably in 2016 after twenty-four years of marriage. However, as of 2019, they remain married, often sharing their marital home in Oxford.