PRO­FILE

The Doc­tor’s lat­est – and quite in­de­pen­dent – com­pan­ion takes time out to de­scribe to Colin Vick­ery her trip from pe­riod drama to time-trav­el­ling sci­ence fic­tion.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - CELEBRITY - Jenna-Louise Cole­man

DR WHO Sun­day, 7.30, ABC1

JENNA-LOUISE Cole­man hasn’t had time to draw breath. The 27-year-old Bri­tish ac­tress is busy try­ing to save the planet.

Cole­man (pic­tured) plays Doc­tor Who’s (Matt Smith) new com­pan­ion Clara Oswald and her time is taken up with trav­el­ling across time – ev­ery­where from a dam­aged Rus­sian sub­ma­rine to the planet Akhaten.

The world of Doc­tor Who and sci­ence fic­tion is quite a leap for Cole­man, who has been star­ring in pe­riod dra­mas for the past few years.

Cole­man sprang to fame when she played Jas­mine Thomas for four years on UK soapie Em­merdale.

She fol­lowed that success with roles in BBC drama Water­loo Road, a tele­vi­sion adap­ta­tion of John Braine novel Room At The Top, and a fea­ture role in Ju­lian Fel­lowes’ mini-se­ries Ti­tanic.

Lead writer and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Steven Mof­fat picked Cole­man for Clara af­ter a set of se­cret au­di­tions along­side Smith.

‘‘Au­di­tions start with you telling the ac­tor about the char­ac­ter – and some­times they end with the ac­tor telling you,’’ Mof­fat says. ‘‘That’s what hap­pened with Jenna.’’

Things were so hush-hush that Cole­man had to pre­tend she was au­di­tion­ing for a pro­gram called Men On Waves.

‘‘I was quite re­laxed about the whole au­di­tion process,’’ Cole­man says. ‘‘I knew Matt was a really cool ac­tor so I thought I’d just go in and en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘I would de­scribe Clara as very re­source­ful. She is a match for the Doc­tor and she holds her own.

‘‘She does her own thing. She doesn’t fol­low. She har­bours quite a lot of se­crets. She is a dreamer and an ex­plorer at heart.’’

Cole­man made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance in the first episode of the sev­enth sea­son, Asy­lum Of The Daleks. She made her de­but as a se­ries reg­u­lar in the Christ­mas episode The Snow­men.

Now it is all sys­tems go as Cole­man ac­com­pa­nies Smith through­out the sec­ond half of sea­son seven.

‘‘There was a daunt­ing as­pect to step­ping into a show that is so well loved but once you’re in it there is no time for anal­y­sis.

‘‘This is a unique show be­cause characters and re­la­tion­ships aren’t so much de­fined by di­a­logue as ac­tion. All the con­ver­sa­tions are on the run.

‘‘I would de­scribe Clara as very re­source­ful. She is a match for the Doc­tor and she holds her own. She does her own thing. She doesn’t fol­low. She har­bours quite a lot of se­crets. She is a dreamer and ex­plorer at heart.’’

‘‘There is the tech­ni­cal as­pect (spe­cial ef­fects) too. The first episode I did, I spent two days in a pod by my­self talk­ing to a piece of green fab­ric, which was meant to be Matt.

‘‘In the past, I’ve worked on two or four-part se­ries where you have time to an­a­lyse the scripts and you know the be­gin­ning, mid­dle and end.

‘‘On this I don’t know what to ex­pect be­cause we are shoot­ing out of se­quence. You are on your toes all the time.’’

So was she ever a big Doc­tor Who fan?

‘‘I’ve al­ways been aware of it but when I started film­ing I hadn’t seen a great deal,’’ Cole­man ad­mits. ‘‘That has worked be­cause Steve wanted me to go into it very fresh – as though Clara is see­ing ev­ery­thing for the first time.’’

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