Jacqueline Pearce, best known as Servalan from the cult British science fiction series Blake’s 7, has passed away at the age of 74 on 3 September 2018 after battling lung cancer.
Pearce died at her home in Lancashire. Her passing was announced by her close friend, John Ainsworth. “She was outrageous, she was very honest and very straightforward, which didn’t always go down very well, but you knew where you were with her,” Ainsworth told Press Association.
In addition to her role as Supreme Commander Servalan, she of the sinister intentions, the damaged soul and eccentric costumery, Pearce played the role of Chessene in the Doctor Who story The Two Doctors and Sherilyn Harper in the Big Finish audio play Doctor Who: The Fearmonger .
RADA trained, Pearce’s acting career spanned more than 40 years and saw her become a genre favourite. She appeared in Danger Man, The Avengers, Hammer Horror films, anthology series including Armchair Theatre, Haunted and Theatre 625, all before the 1970s. Her distinctive cut glass voice would see her appear in period pieces, including The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, The Edwardians and the 1970s adaptation of David Copperfield, though she was also seen in grittier roles in TV series such as Callan, Special Branch and New Scotland Yard.
Often she’d appear on our screens with her customary grace and then disappear, only to return and win over a new generation of fans. It was, however, Servalan that would go onto define her career.
Roj Blake’s nemesis, she would stop at nothing to defeat the rebels, even if that meant seemingly changing outfit frequently and being deliciously outlandish as she delivered on her increasingly excessive plans, only to have victory stolen away at the last moment.
This wouldn’t be her last chance to display her villainess side as she would join future Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T Davies, in his children’s series Dark Season, as the chilling Miss Pendragon and Moondial in the dual role of a malicious Miss Vole and the ghost hunter Miss Raven.
Her later career would see few appearances over the decades. She would feature in BBC’s Casualty and Doctors, 2002’s Daniel Deronda as well as The Unexpected Mrs Polifax. It seemed that she was able to choose her moments, and she often chose her projects well.
For a whole generation, however, Jacqueline Pearce will always be Servalan and she delivered with… maximum power.
Image Credit: BBC