Anneke was born on October 1941, in Berkshire. Her parents Anna and Alaric Willys (she later changed her name to Wills) had planned to buy a house in the South of France but World War II ended that idea. Alaric was a gambler whose debts forced Anna to take on a string of jobs while he became a captain in the British army and an absent figure. Anna worked as a companion to a blind aristocrat, gardener, teacher – moving Anneke and her brother Robin around the country several times. Anneke won her first role at the age of 11 while she was living on a houseboat in Bray, Berkshire. The film was called Child’s Play and she gave the £9 fee to her mother. Deciding she wanted to be an actress she then studied drama at the Arts Educational School in London and quickly became one of the busiest actresses of her generation, early roles included an appearance as Roberta in the first TV version of The Railway Children in 1957.
She appeared in Doctor Who from 1966 to 1967 alongside William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton as the Doctor – the first in a long line of glamorous Doctor Who girls. Other television credits include appearances in The Avengers and as Evelyn in Strange Report. However she left the latter series when it was planned to switch filming to Hollywood.
At 17 she began a relationship with Anthony Newley while working on the TV series The Strange World of Gurney Slade. Later, she married Michael Gough, the distinguished actor who played The Celestial Toymaker in Doctor Who. During the Sixties Anneke spent much of her time at the famous Troubadour Coffee Shop and The Establishment, and was part of the so-called Chelsea Set, counting among her close friends many of the leading lights of the Sixties.
In 1966 she was offered her role in Doctor Who and life seemed perfect for the young actress. In 1970 Anneke gave up acting and moved to Norfolk, throwing herself into motherhood and gardening. During this time she travelled to Vietnam and Laos, and spent a lot of time at Poona, India, at the ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. She and her son Jasper visited the ashram many times in the 1970s and early 80s.
Anneke remarried twice and lived in California and in an artists colony on Hornby Island in Canada before returning to the UK in the mid-1990s. She is still involved in the worlds of Doctor Who, being a popular guest at conventions around the world, and recording various Doctor Who related audio dramas and DVD projects for the BBC and Big Finish Productions.
2016 saw the 50th anniversary of Anneke being cast as Polly in Doctor Who, plenty of appearances and events took place in the UK and the US to celebrate. This year sees Polly return to Doctor Who in Peter Capaldi’s final story Twice Upon A Time, this time played by Lily Travers. Will Anneke appear? Wait and see…
Check out the News section for details of where you can meet Anneke.