After a lifetime of acting and designing costumes, Laura June talks us through her 30 years at the BBC, and tells us all about that famous Doctor Who costume.
Meet Laura June
Starting with a career in acting, Laura June has spent most of her life in show business, designing costumes for the BBC for over 30 years.
June took some time out of her busy day to tell us more about her life, including the famous Doctor Who costume and whether she’ll ever really retire.
You don’t feel any age then?
No I don’t. I don’t dwell on my age at all. I mean I know my age of course, but to me it is something that is apart from me, and I think to continually dwell upon your age is a bit limiting to be quite honest. I mean, why would you think about your age? Why does anyone think about their age? I certainly don’t.
What do you think about life after 50?
My life now is better than ever. This is the happiest and most fulfilling time in my life and I can say that with complete honesty. I have achieved a lot in my ambitions, both as a designer and an actress.
When you get older, you don’t actually care. I think that whatever time in your life, it is important to enjoy it, to thoroughly enjoy it, and I think often when people are young they don’t enjoy it because apprehension about the future - will they succeed? Are they gonna get that job? Will they be a failure in life? You see those questions have been taken away. You just say ‘Okay. So, who cares what other people think?’ I don’t care. One of the great compensations of age.
Would you consider yourself retired?
Oh no. I’m definitely not retired. I have no desire to retire. I mean, I need to be creative, certainly both in drawing, talking, teaching, acting… I’ve been teaching for the last ten years, at the University of Redlands in California, where I teach aspiring designers about science fiction.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’m a science fiction specialist. I design science fiction costumes. I’ve been invited to Gallifrey in Los Angeles, a huge Doctor Who convention, where I will talk to about 4000 fans, some of them wearing costumes I designed for Tom Baker, which is the red outfit. When John Nathan Turner took over as producer, he told me when I joined the show that he wanted Tom to be transformed. And Tom was kind enough to say ‘I will wear anything you design June’. So I chose a deep maroon red which looked amazing on him, and that is what I talk about to the fans - how I thought of it, my choice of colour and why. So that’s the sort of thing I talk about.
To me, there isn’t an age limit to people dressing. From my way of thinking, clothes come into their own when you’re older, because you are creating your own body. When you’re young, your body is created young and beautiful and blemish free but as you get older you create your own body with your clothes, and you create yourself through your hair and your clothes.
What would you say to being told ‘shouldn’t you be slowing down’?
Well, I wish I could actually! but I’m a bit like an overcharged old engine. The trouble is, when you stop an old engine, it’s liable to conk out, so you see I’ve got to keep moving whether I like it or not. I just gotta keep on drivin, drivin, drivin! (laughs). No, there’s so much I want to do.
I like to think I am a supernova. I just get brighter and brighter as I get older. The only trouble is, a professor said to me ‘yes but you know what happens to supernovas, don’t you? They turn into a black hole!’ and I said ‘WHAT!? then don’t get too close!’ (laughs) which is true! But in the mean time I’ll settle for just getting brighter and brighter, until I go POP! It’s better a bang than a whimper (laughs).
You see I’ve got it together now in a way I never did. Or maybe it’s a delusion of age that you are getting it together. Maybe I’m not! Maybe I think I am! (laughs)
Do you have any pets?
My cats are actually my companions and I do feel responsible. They mean the world to me really, they’re my friends and I try to do the best for them.
Sadly, I had a cat some two or three years ago who developed quite serious illnesses and I could never have afforded to treat him. Thank heavens I had pet insurance. It’s peace of mind really. You know that if the cat was to have an accident or the worst was to happen, at least you know they can be treated.
What would you tell your younger self?
Get on with life. Play the hand you’re dealt to your very best. Be positive and just enjoy it and maybe not take things too seriously. No matter how old you are, don’t take things too seriously. After all, it may never happen.
Posted on 16 December 2016