Who did Katy Manning do next? - Bette Davis

JON PERTWEE was at the controls of the TARDIS when Katy Manning joined the cast of Doctor Who. Years before Rose crossed over into a parallel world with her very own facsimile Doctor, it was Jo Grant who made Saturday night TV sexy.

Just 21 at the time, Manning roamed the universe – in reality the BBC's White City Studios or any one of a number of quarries in the south of England – with the third Doctor, battling Daleks, Draconians and Drashigs.

This month, at the Gilded Balloon, however, the actress, who last appeared here in the early 70s, playing a 16-year-old mass murdering Girl Guide at the Traverse, can be found creating a monster of her own, the indomitable Bette Davis.

The Hollywood legend is just one of nine characters Manning plays in her acclaimed one-woman show, Me And Jezebel.

Based on a true story, the piece tells what happened when an ageing Davis invited herself to stay for a night in the New England house of writer Elizabeth Fuller - and didn't leave for a month.

Chaos ensues as their famous house guest turns the Fuller family upside down, almost costing Elizabeth her marriage.

Written by Fuller and directed by Barry Crocker, Me And Jezebel finds Manning on top form, giving what has been described as a 'vocal tour de force' as she slips effort-lessly from character to character.

"I fought very strongly at first when it was suggested that I do this piece as a one- woman show," Manning reveals. "I said, 'Oh you've got to be joking, I'll disappear up my own bottom trying to play all those characters'. But I loved the play because it's a true story and I loved seeing Bette out of her comfort zone – you learn more about someone when you see them without their PRs, eyelashes and sequins."

Pausing for a moment she adds with a laugh, "Actually, it was the perfect show for me because I have a lot of people living inside me. As Barry, my current partner and director said, when all my personalities are employed (which means I should probably do a musical with 25 people in it) I'm much nicer."

Throughout the piece Manning puts that multiple personality disorder to good use in a high-energy performance that finds her constantly interrupting herself in different voices – in one scene she even conducts a four-way conversation between Davis, Fuller, her husband and their four-year-old son.

Having now toured the show across Australia, Yorkshire and the south of England you'd be forgiven for thinking that Manning, herself a bubbling little dynamo of fun, might get lonely touring solo, but she insists, "People ask if I get lonely doing a one woman show because everybody puts me down as a big party girl with demented energy. But I love being on my own. I am happy just wandering around looking for things on the ground. I find things. I love doing that and do so very happily on my own."

Breaking into her big trademark grin, she adds, "It's only when there are other people around that I'm like a kid, I get over excited and behave really badly."

Although Manning says she can relate to Davis, she admits that wasn't the reason for doing the show.

"She was someone I admired enormously, but I can't say that I was a massive fan. The fact that this story actually happened is just as important to me. That's what I'm passionate about. It's such an extraordinary story, and I love extraordinary stories."

Me And Jezebel, Gilded Balloon Teviot – Wine Bar, 4pm, until August 31, 5-10, 0131-622 6552

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JEZEBEL: Katy Manning, and below, with Jon Pertwee