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Feature: Doctor Who (2000s)

Head to Head

David Tennant and Freema Agyeman

We went to see the start of the Doctor and Martha’s travels together and spoke to David Tennant and Freema Agyeman

You might think that, three years into its life, some of the anticipation surrounding Doctor Who might have faded away. Yet the Season Three launch on March 21st put paid to such doubts: the evening at London’s Mayfair Hotel was a glittering event to rival any Hollywood première. There were fans gathering around at the entrance for autographs, news cameras conducting interviews in cordoned off areas and countless stars in attendance. Look – there’s Catherine Tate! And Dawn French! Not to mention Jonathan Ross, Adam Woodyatt, Noel Clarke, Shaun Dingwall…

In fact, Freema Agyeman’s introduction to the nation’s press couldn’t have been more nerve-racking. But joined by co-star David Tennant, the actress who is Martha Jones took it all in her stride. After all, a lead role in the BBC’s flagship series was always going to be accompanied by an astonishing degree of attention.

“You’re told your life is going to change but I didn’t have a basis for comparison,” admits Agyeman. “I don’t know how to prepare for that, but if it carries on the way it has then everyone has been nice and encouraging.

“I’ve had a really good experience and the fans have been really warm and really welcoming, and that has made it all so much easier. If fame just means more of that, I’m ready for it. There are a lot of good people around me that are supportive and giving me all the advice and everything. So I will embrace it.”

Martha comes into the Doctor’s life in the season’s opening episode Smith and Jones, introduced as a trainee medical doctor who has a ton of family problems and a strange man with two hearts on her ward. Whisked off to the moon by a bunch of no-nonsense monstrous cops for hire, Martha gets a crash course in the existence of alien life and becomes the Doctor’s new companion. Temporarily, of course, because he’s still not over the loss of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).

“I think the Doctor thinks he doesn’t need a friend,” muses Tennant. “He thinks he’s moved on and that he’s better on his own. But Martha quite rightly intuits that he does, that he needs her more than he realizes. But their story will develop and twist and turn as we go through 13 episodes.”

“It’s an interesting sort of journey they go through,” Agyeman agrees. “He does influence her and there are times the Doctor is the teacher and she’s the student, or he’s the parent and she the child, but there are times when that role is reversed. He might not think he needs anybody, but clearly he does!”

With mentions of Rose still peppered through the series, did Agyeman feel any added pressure to live up to her predecessor? “You know, hand on heart, I didn’t,” she says. “And then I kind of look at [the episodes] now, I can kind of see it. Billie did an amazing job and Rose is a phenomenal character and she got taken into the nation’s hearts and rightfully so. I think it’s great what [executive producer] Russell [T Davies] did: it’s right that we don’t start the new series going, ‘Out with the old, in with the new, let’s never mention Rose’s name again’.

by David Richardson

Read the full interview in
Cult Times #140

Doctor Who © BBCtv
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #140
May 2007
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