Louise, 68, who has also starred in Doc Martin, EastEnders and Bergerac, said she was “inappropriately groped” early in her career. Rada-trained Louise got her big break as Leela, companion to Tom Baker as Doctor Who in 1977, but is still bothered by what happened to her on the way to stardom. “I was very inappropriately groped,” she says. “I walked away from it unscathed, but my older self is p***ed off that my younger self couldn’t have been more assertive.
“If I had this head on that body, I should have reported it. But I wouldn’t dream of naming and shaming. The gentleman is no longer with us, so there’s no point in going there.”
Last week, shamed Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault.
The conviction was hailed as a success for the #MeToo movement, which initial reports of Weinstein’s behaviour had helped start.
Louise says her own experience helped shape her support for #MeToo.
“I think it’s amazing, and that those who criticise it have never been there and don’t understand what it is to be on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour,” she says. “I think the whole 50/50 Movement is fantastic. Women seem to be finally having a voice.”
Louise, who appeared nude in the BBC TV drama Tenko in 1981, is also relieved that today’s young actresses who strip on screen are better protected than in those days.
“I think it’s entirely their decision,” she says. “In the days when I got my kit off there wasn’t all this internet stuff going on.
“I think they now have an observer to make sure nothing untoward is happening and that it’s a closed set – a kind of chaperone.”
She also says that the changing approach to women on screen has given her a second lease of professional life.
“My career consisted of being somebody’s companion as in Doctor Who, or someone’s partner like in Bergerac,” she says.
“It’s always been attached to a man except for the amazing Tenko which I adored doing.
“But that’s been the nature of female parts through the ages until very recently. Last year my phone didn’t stop ringing and it was like being back in my 20s with a choice of jobs. I don’t know if that’s to do with having let my hair go white, but I was astounded and delighted.
● Louise is directing the thriller Revenge, which is on tour, ending at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, March 24-28 (crimeandcomedytheatrecompany.co.uk)