Doctor Who's new assistant Jenna-Louise Coleman looks set to melt hearts this Christmas - Features - TV & Radio - The Independent

Doctor Who's new assistant Jenna-Louise Coleman looks set to melt hearts this Christmas

The actress, whose companion to Matt Smith's Time Lord is as yet-unnamed, says the characters 'really like each other' in an interview with Neela Debnath

Despite the snowy winter scenes the chemistry on this year's Doctor Who Christmas special looks set to be sizzling. Jenna-Louise Coleman, new assistant to Matt Smith's Time Lord, says the pair "really like each other and can't help that they like each other".

The television actress, 26, is recognisable from a long stint on ITV1 soap opera Emmerdale as well as from Julian Fellowes' adaptation of Titanic (unkindly nicknamed 'Drowntown' for its similarities to a sinking Downton Abbey).

Despite her experience you might expect the actress to find filling the shoes left by Karen Gillan intimidating? But, no. Instead the actress is unfazed, calling Smith "amazing and ridiculous in equal measures", adding: "It really is an interesting dynamic and it's something that we're still working on with but it is a kind of push-and-pull."

The trailer for this year's Christmas special The Snowmen shows Smith and Coleman sharing a kiss. Could sexual tension to rival David Tennant 's Doctor and Billie Piper's Rose be on the cards? Or is this just part of the new Doctor Who tradition where the Time Lord shares a smacker with all of his companions? Could the situation bear a closer resemblance to the unrequited love from Freema Agyeman's assistant (Martha Jones) for Tennant (who was pining for Rose)?

Coleman is under strict orders to remain tight-lipped, but she does say: "I think it's one of these things where she meets this guy that she's incredibly interested in and by and wants to know more but there's also something - he has answers that she wants. She wants answers. She's on her own mission."

She added: "[My character is] the kind of girl who lives by her own means, she doesn't need other people as much to get by, so she's a bit more of an equal. As soon as she meets him - and he's not the kind of guy that you meet every day-, she's interested and wants to know who he is and where he's come from and she doesn't give up and follows that track."

The last couple of Doctor Who series have been largely devoid of flirtation. Amy Pond (Gillan) did share a smooch with the ancient Gallifreyan on the night before her wedding, but her heart truly belonged to Rory (Arthur Darvill) whom she eventually married.

Saying this, Smith's Doctor has encountered some romance on his journeys through time and space in the form of Alex Kingston's River Song, whom he married and shared many a kiss. Therefore, a blossoming romance with Coleman's companion would not be unusual for Doctor Who but can it live up to the epic love between their predecessors?

The pair have already been seen sharing flirty exchanges during Coleman's surprise appearance as a different character called Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, the first episode of the current series, which ended in tragedy when it emerged that she had been turned into a Dalek. 

But it seems the tension that appeared between them was just the result of good acting as Coleman explains that she did not film those scenes with Smith. Instead she spent two days on set talking to a circle that represented the Doctor while her co-stars were on another set filming the rest of the series.

"It's one of these things about it being all about chemistry and about us bantering with each other but in reality I was talking to a green screen and myself in a camera. It was a strange two days talking to myself in my pod. Steven Moffat's writing is so good that it's there already for you on the page," she says.

The entrance of Coleman's character in The Snowmen is the start of a new era for the eleventh Doctor, who has been mourning the loss of his previous assistants Amy and Rory Pond after they were "killed" by the Weeping Angels in an epic mid-series finale back in September.

It was announced earlier this year that the actress from Blackpool would be taking on the role of new companion. She was shopping in Marks & Spencer when she got the call. She says she had to put her basket down and walk out of the shop so that she could take it all in.

Her family couldn't believe it either: "I think [my mother] thought I was lying for a second, I think she thought I was winding her up."

Due to the scrupulous levels of secrecy on the show she had to tell her friends initially that she didn't get the part then go back and tell them that she did when the announcement was made.

Has she noticed a change in the way people have been treating her since it was announced that she was the new companion?

"I've been a Google ban but it's funny because I live really near the Doctor Who experience and see it from my bedroom."

On filming, she says: "You can basically be as silly and ridiculous as you like and also some of the scripts are so emotional and really heartfelt as well, it really does give you everything."

"You walk into the studio and every two weeks whole new sets have been built. I don't know how on earth they do it, it's like magic. You suddenly pop up in one era, you open the Tardis doors and [you're] suddenly in this era. It does make you feel like a big kid."

She admits that she accidentally ended up performing a stunt when she ran too fast and has even headbutted the camera a few times. She sounds like she could rival Smith in the clumsiness on-set stakes.

Coleman sums up her character neatly: "She's feisty, she's curious, she's up for adventure. She knows what she wants, she's very witty."

The Christmas special will see her and the Doctor join forces, along with some familiar faces including Madame Vastra, Jenny and Commander Strax to battle against Richard E. Grant's villain du jour and an army sinister snowmen (who have some decidedly pointy fangs).

"It's one of the shows that can do Christmas properly. It can really go the whole way," says Coleman, who will be watching with her family next Tuesday.

This year's 'Doctor Who' Christmas special 'The Snowmen' will be shown on Tuesday 25 December at 5.15pm on BBC 1

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