As the Doctor's companion, Jenna Coleman's killer cocktail of cherubic beauty and on-screen feistiness was the perfect foil to Matt Smith, and now Peter Capaldi’s, Doctors. Ahead of Doctor Who season 9 (which is also set to guest star Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams) we grabbed a moment with Jenna Coleman to chat about the more surreal aspects of being in Doctor Who, a show so popular and long-running it’s practically a national treasure, and why she’ll never touch a bottle of blonde hair dye ever again.
Doctor Who is such a massive show. Have you ever had any weird super-fan encounters?
“Peter [Capaldi] and I went to promote it in South Korea and when we landed at the airport I was really shocked by how many people there were waiting for us, dressed up, singing and waving banners. When you’re filming in this bubble in Cardiff it’s so easy to forget how many people love it!”
What do you think is the biggest difference in your relationship with Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s versions of the Doctor?
“I think it’s that Peter’s Doctor doesn’t even register the fact that Clara’s a girl, whereas with Matt’s Doctor it was more of a flirtatious relationship.”
You’re only 5’2”. How do you negociate the height difference with Peter on screen?
“I often have to stand on an apple box when we’re filming. It’s called ‘Jenna’s Box’ and it gets brought out when I need to fit into a particular shot - like the Yellow Pages!”
Jenna Coleman chats with co-star Peter Capaldi chat in between takes on the Dr Who set
Do you get excited when guest stars come on set?
"You know what I’m really impressed with. On Doctor Who at the moment we've got this little girl who is the voice of Peppa Pig, which I think is hilarious. I keep getting her to do little voice bits to send to people. Of all the guests we’ve had in she's the one I'm most struck by. Also the great thing about being on Doctor Who is you get people coming in who normally play a certain type of role and they totally can break out of that."
Are you in touch with any previous Dr Who assistants?
"I see Billie Piper around and Karen Gillan was over - she actually lives in LA now - last summer. The main Karen told me is to just enjoy it, it goes so quickly so make it your own and have fun."
Why do you think so many people love the show?
"I think it’s the adventure of it, the way it captures your imagination. The idea that an alien can land on your doorstep and say ‘where do you want to go? You can go anywhere in time and space.' Nobody’s going to go ‘I’m better off here, thanks.' I think it's also unique because your grandma can watch it and your kids can watch it."
Jenna Coleman out and about in London
Where would you go if you could leap into the Tardis right now?
“I’ve just read Patti Smith’s book Just Kids. It’s SO good! It makes me want to be in the Chelsea Hotel in New York back when Jimi Hendrix was chilling out there. That would be a pretty cool place to spend a day earwigging and peeping around.”
Have you always wanted to act?
“It’s something I started doing at school. There are no other actors in my family; my Dad is a joiner and so is my brother, so they don’t really understand what’s happened!”
Ever had a beauty disaster?
“On New Year’s Eve in 2000 I accidentally dyed my hair yellow. It was around the time when everyone was experimenting with those colourful wash-out hair dyes. I didn’t know the one I’d put in was permanent and it went a nasty gold-copper colour. My Mum cried.”
Do you wear much make-up in real life?
“On a daily basis I’m quite barefaced, but I am a sucker for new products. It’s funny I’ve spent most of the last year not doing my own make-up as I’ve been working. After a while you forget how to do it!”
Jenna Coleman at Comic-Con with Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez
What’s the most decadent thing you’ve ever done?
“On the Doctor Who world tour I had twenty-two different outfits to pack. It felt pretty extravagant travelling with four suitcases of clothes.”
What are you up to next?
“There are no grand plans. I’d like to do some theatre, get back into the rehearsal room. I think it’s all about surrounding yourself with really clever, talented people so you can soak up some of their brilliance!”
Jenna Coleman on the red carpet at the BAFTAs earlier this year
Watch Jenna Coleman's best beauty tip in the video below...