Lalla Ward

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The Honourable
Lalla Ward
BornSarah Ward
Years active1972–1993 (as an actor)
1985–1988 (as an author)
Spouse(s)Tom Baker (1980–1982)
Richard Dawkins (1992–present)
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The Honourable
Lalla Ward
BornSarah Ward
Years active1972–1993 (as an actor)
1985–1988 (as an author)
Spouse(s)Tom Baker (1980–1982)
Richard Dawkins (1992–present)

Sarah Ward, known as Lalla Ward, is an English actor, author and illustrator. As an actor, she is known for playing the part of Romana in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. She is married to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.


Early life

Sarah Ward is the daughter of Edward Ward, 7th Viscount Bangor, and his fourth wife Marjorie Alice Banks; as such, she is entitled to use the courtesy title "The Honourable".[1] Her father was the BBC's war correspondent in Finland at the beginning of World War II, while her mother was a writer and BBC producer specialising in dramatised documentaries.[2]

She has a brother, Edward, two years her junior; and a half-brother, William, who is the 8th Viscount Bangor, three years her senior.

Through her father she is descended from George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV, via John Mordaunt, 1st Earl of Peterborough, John, 1st Viscount Mordaunt, and Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor.

Her great-grandmother Mary Ward was a talented illustrator and amateur scientist, and is documented as the first person in the world to die in a motor vehicle accident.


Early career

Ward's stage name, "Lalla", comes from her attempts as a toddler to pronounce her own name.[2] She left school at the age of 14 because she "loathed every single minute of it", and took her O-levels on her own.[2] After spending a few years painting, Ward auditioned at London drama schools "as a sort of dare" to herself:

It was a 'see if you can do it' sort of thing, because it was the thing I hated most — just like somebody who's scared of heights might go rock climbing, or, I don't know, go potholing if they're claustrophobic.[2]

Ward studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama from 1968 to 1971.[2]

She began her acting career in the Hammer horror film Vampire Circus (1972), and played the teenage daughter of The Duchess of Duke Street in the popular BBC drama series of the 1970s. She appeared in films such as Matushka, England Made Me (1972), Rosebud (1974), and The Prince and the Pauper (1977) and on television featured in Van der Valk (1973), The Protectors (1973), Quiller (1975), Who Pays the Ferryman? (1977), The Professionals (1978) and Hazell (1979). She acted in a film called Got It Made in 1974 which was later recut with sex scenes featuring other actresses and reissued as Sweet Virgin.[3] Club International magazine ran nude pictures from the film, claiming they were of her and Ward successfully sued the magazine.[3] In 1980, she played Ophelia to Derek Jacobi's Hamlet in the BBC television production.

Doctor Who

She is best known as the second actress to play the Time Lady Romana (Romanadvoratrelundar) in Doctor Who. After a guest appearance as Princess Astra in the Doctor Who story The Armageddon Factor in 1979, Ward was chosen to replace Mary Tamm, who had decided against continuing in the role. She appeared in all of Season 17's stories and then her character was written out in the third to last story of Season 18 in the story entitled Warriors' Gate.

After Doctor Who, she appeared in Schoolgirl Chums (1982) and The Jeweller's Shop and The Rehearsal on stage.

Ward decided to end her acting career after marrying Dawkins.[3] However, she has since reprised the character of Romana in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time, the 2003 webcast version of Shada, and in several Doctor Who and Gallifrey audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. She also played the 'Mistress' opposite John Leeson's 'K-9' in two audio plays from BBV. In addition, she has appeared at a number of Doctor Who conventions and related special events.


Ward has recorded audio books, including Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct and Shada by Gareth Roberts and Douglas Adams. She co-narrates The Selfish Gene, The Ancestor's Tale, The God Delusion, The Blind Watchmaker and The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution with her husband.

In the 1980s, she also wrote two books on knitting and one on embroidery. Ward is a keen chef, and she contributed a recipe to The Doctor Who Cookbook which was edited by Gary Downie.

Charity work

For almost twenty years, Lalla Ward has served on the committee of the Actors' Charitable Trust, TACT, and as a trustee for ten years. Alongside Richard and Sheila Attenborough, she led a successful £7.5 million redevelopment of the actors' care home, Denville Hall.[citation needed]

Personal life

Ward was in a relationship with her co-star Tom Baker whilst working on Doctor Who, and they lived together in a flat in Deptford. The couple married in December 1980, but the marriage lasted only sixteen months.[4] Ward attributed the separation to work commitments, different lifestyles and conflicts of interest. Regarding her marriage to Tom Baker, Ward is quoted as saying:

It's something I still feel sad about. I loved — and, in many ways, still love — Tom very much. The trouble is, our careers came to be just as important as each other, and we grew apart. I was angry at suggestions that it didn't work because I was too young, or that Tom was unreasonable to me. We just irritated each other occasionally — we weren't close enough, I suppose. It was a decision we discussed and felt was for the best.[5]

Ward said in 2004 that her long friendship with Douglas Adams, with whom she worked on Doctor Who, meant more to her and was "more valuable and more enduring" than her marriage to Baker.[3] In 1992, at his 40th birthday party, Adams introduced her to his friend Richard Dawkins (biologist and author of such books as The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker and, later, The God Delusion).[3][6] Ward and Dawkins married later that year.

Aside from acting, her other talents include book illustration, and she is particularly adept at sketching animals. One example of this was the 1985 Shell Calendar, which features embroidered pictures of sea birds. Ward also illustrates Dawkins's books, and has also been known to help create material for his lectures.

See also


  1. ^ Mosley, Charles (1999). Burke's Peerage and Baronetage (106th ed.). Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd..
  2. ^ a b c d e Cook, Benjamin (3 March 2004). Doctor Who Magazine (Tunbridge Wells) (340): pp. 14–19..
  3. ^ a b c d e Cook, Benjamin (31 March 2004). Doctor Who Magazine (Tunbridge Wells) (341): pp. 14–18..
  4. ^ "No title" (scanned clipping). Daily Telegraph. 14 December 1980. Retrieved 18 April 2009.[dead link]
  5. ^ Parker, Kevin. "Lalla Ward". Doctor Who Companions. Retrieved 2007-07-19.
  6. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2001-09-17). "Lament for Douglas". Edge. Edge Foundation. Retrieved 2007-07-19.

External links