Virginia Lake, initially an outside contractor from Westbrook Electronics in Los Angeles, who was lead designer for S.H.A.D.O.'s UFO Utronic tracking equipment, later became a Colonel in S.H.A.D.O. who reported directly to Commander Straker.
Utronic tracking equipment, one of whose developers is S.H.A.D.O. Colonel Virginia Lake, is an electronic technology used by S.H.A.D.O. Moonbase to track UFO's as they are approaching Earth. Whilst the inner workings of the equipment, developed (according to "Identified") at Westbrook Electronics, are never disclosed, a utronic beam travels almost instantaneously.
An expert in programming S.H.A.D.O.'s main computer, she was sometimes sent out on special assignments. Self-confident of her abilities, and with good reason, she was a half-serious rival of Colonel Alec E. Freeman, in whose absence she served as S.H.A.D.O.'s second in command, and she was also one of several of Moonbase's commanders.
She was on good terms with Commander Straker, and also had relationships with at least three of her S.H.A.D.O. colleagues; these were the aforementioned Colonel Alec Freeman, Colonel Craig Collins, and Colonel Paul Foster.
NB: Wanda Ventham was first recruited as Colonel Virginia Lake for the UFO Episode "Identified," and when George Sewell ceased to be available for shooting, forcing his character of Colonel Alec E. Freeman to be written out, her character was made a regular in UFO.
Colonel Virginia Lake (played by Wanda Ventham) initially an outside contractor from Westbrook Electronics in Los Angeles, who was lead designer for S.H.A.D.O.'s UFO Utronic tracking equipment. She joined S.H.A.D.O. operations sometime after the successful implementation of the Utronic Tracking Equipment she helped design. Sometime later she would became a Colonel in S.H.A.D.O. who reported directly to Commander Straker.
Colonel Virginia Lake appears in the following 9 UFO episodes:
19 The Cat With Ten Lives
21 The Man who Came Back
22 The Psychobombs
Westbrook Electronics' lead designer for S.H.A.D.O.'s Utronic tracking equipment: Virginia Lake makes it very clear to Colonel Freeman, that he is 'very familiar' ...with the equipment.
Virgina Lake is travelling back to the UK in SHADO's Seagull-Xray aircraft. Colonel Alec Freeman introduces himself to her and makes his feelings about her very obvious.
Col. Lake is updating Cmdr. Straker and Col. Foster about the nature and chemical substances taken and sampled from Col. Foster's knife.
Colonel Lake is rather resentful to Colonel Craig Collins after he implies that she belongs to him and is his property.
Early life and career: Wanda was born in Brighton, the daughter of Gladys Frances (née Holtham) and Frederick Howard Ventham. Originally aspiring to become an artist, she attended art school for a year whilst working as a scenic painter for the Connaught Theatre in Worthing, West Sussex, during her school holidays. The exposure to professional theatre prompted her to leave art school and pursue a career in acting. She trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, as a contemporary of Judi Dench, graduating in 1956.
Acting career: Wanda Ventham's first film role was in My Teenage Daughter (1956). She also appeared in Carry On Cleo (1964) and Carry On Up the Khyber (1968). She starred alongside Mark Burns in the mystery film Death is a Woman (1966). Her best-known role was on television as Col. Virginia Lake, second-in-command to Cmdr. Ed Straker (Ed Bishop), in the cult series UFO.
Wanda's numerous other TV credits include regular roles in Heartbeat as Fiona Weston, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates as Margaret Balshaw, and as Shirley in The Rag Trade. She also played a love interest for Arthur Daley in Minder, Susan's mother in Coupling, and Deborah's mother in Men Behaving Badly. She starred opposite Ian Hendry in the 15-part BBC series The Lotus Eaters (1972–73), and made a guest appearance on the BBC Two sketch show Rutland Weekend Television. She was in an episode of Danger Man, and the series Patrick McGoohan completed immediately afterwards – the allegorical spy series The Prisoner – as well as the sitcoms Executive Stress and Next of Kin, and the sketch show The Two Ronnies. Wanda has appeared in Doctor Who on three occasions over three decades: as Jean Rock in The Faceless Ones (1967), as Thea Ransome in Image of the Fendahl (1977) and as Faroon in Time and the Rani (1987). Her appearance in Image of the Fendahl was opposite Denis Lill. Wanda Ventham and Lill would later play Pamela and Alan Parry in the sitcom Only Fools and Horses. Wanda appeared in Holby City as Sheilagh Chiltern, the grandmother of Lofty Chiltern. In April 2014, People magazine featured her in its "Most Beautiful People in the World" edition.
Personal life: Wanda Ventham married her first husband James Tabernacle in 1957, and they had one daughter, Tracy. They were divorced on 12 November 1974. She met actor Timothy Carlton in 1970 while filming sequences for the drama series A Family at War, and they have been married since April 1976. The couple appeared together in the second series of BBC drama The Lotus Eaters in 1973, and in the third and fourth series of BBC's Sherlock in 2014 and 2017, where they played the title character's parents. with their son, actor Benedict Cumberbatch starring in the titular role of Holmes.