Amid rumours that Freema Agyeman was to be axed from the next series of Doctor Who, the Timelord will in fact get two assistants.

Freema, 28, will be absent from the first half of the fourth series. And a mystery new companion will join the Doctor for the entire 13-week run of the next series and is expected to be announced shortly.

Freema will guest-star in three episodes of Torchwood, the sci-fi spin-off on BBC Two, before returning to Doctor Who as sidekick Martha Jones.

The former Crossroads actress was spotted after auditioning for the smaller Doctor Who role of alien expert Adeola, and was called back to test for the part of David Tennant’s sidekick when Billie Piper quit at the end of the second series.

Freema, who has called rumours she was being axed ‘horrible’, said: “I can’t wait to start filming on Torchwood and the new series of Doctor Who.

“It’s a huge new challenge for me and I’m delighted Russell [T Davies, writer] has decided to expand the character of Martha Jones.”

The final episode of the third series, screened on Saturday, saw Martha leave the Doctor to care for her family.

The fourth series of the BBC show goes into production next month.

This will not be the first time the Doctor has enjoyed more than one sidekick – he often had three in the early shows.