Actress, author and comedienne Meera Syal fulfils a lifelong ambition this week when she joins the cast of Doctor Who as strong-willed scientist Nasreen Choudhary…

Are you excited to be in Doctor Who?
“Totally! It’s one of those things I needed to tick off my list – along with the RSC, the West End. I am thrilled.”

Tell us about Nasreen – how does the Doctor meet her?
“She’s a geologist. She’s been on a drilling project in Wales. She’s very bright, having devoted her whole life to this job. She’s on a mission to drill to the centre of the earth, which of course has typical Doctor Who consequences.”

Fans are very excited by the baddies in your two episodes – it’s the return of the Silurians!
“I didn’t even know they’d been in it before! They’re fantastic – the costumes are just beautiful.”

What do the Silurians want?
“They’re not totally evil. They have wisdom and they are only defending what is theirs. They aren’t like the Daleks or the Cybermen, but you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of them. The make-up is amazing, the actors were in at 4am every day to have it applied.”

How does Nasreen get on with the Doctor?
“She doesn’t take well at first to this young man ordering her about but she comes round in the end. They do have a shared passion of adventure that links them.”

This story is over two episodes – can we expect you in both of them or do you meet a grisly end?
“I have to say I did flick through my script and looked for where I died but I was surprised to see I’m still there in episode two!”

Before they announced Matt as the Doctor there was a strange rumour…
“That I was the Doctor! I know! I don’t know where that came from – probably my agent. I can’t see a woman playing that part for a while, it would be a very bold move. Maybe in the future I could do it… but I might be in a wheelchair by then so maybe not!”