Jacqueline Pearce dead: Doctor Who star dies aged 74

Blake's 7 and Doctor Who star Jacqueline Pearce has died at the age of 74, shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer, a friend has said.

The actress, best known for playing villain Supreme Commander Servalan in the popular BBC science fiction series, died at her home in Lancashire.

John Ainsworth, who had been her friend for 25 years and was with her at the time, said: "She was outrageous. She was very honest and very straightforward, which didn't always go down very well, but you knew where you were with her.

"She liked a glass of champagne and liked everyone to have a good time with her, and of course she was a brilliant actress and everyone who worked with her remembered her very fondly."

He added that Pearce had been diagnosed "a couple of weeks ago" and chose to be cared for at home after leaving hospital.

Alongside her role in Blake's 7, which was expanded from a single episode to a regular role over four series due to her popularity, Pearce was also known for her guest role as Chessene in The Two Doctors episodes of Doctor Who in 1985 - opposite Colin Baker's Time Lord.

After training at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts alongside Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt, she appeared in episodes of Danger Man and The Avengers, as well as children's dramas Moondial and Dark Season, written by Russell T Davies.

In a statement, Davies said: "It was a joy, working with Jacqueline on the first drama I ever wrote, Dark Season.

"She was glorious, vivid, passionate, filthy and the most wonderful company. And underneath the style and the laughter, a truly fine actor."

Her film roles included White Mischief with John Hurt, How To Get Ahead In Advertising with Richard E Grant and Princess Caraboo with Kevin Kline.

After moving to South Africa for several years, initially to care for orphaned monkeys, Pearce returned to the UK in 2015.