Matt tells us what he thinks of Doctor Who’s latest assistant, played by Emmerdale and Waterloo Road’s Jenna Louise Coleman…

What can you tell us about the Christmas episode, which is set in Victorian London?
“We meet the Doctor’s new companion, a headstrong governess called Clara (played by former Emmerdale and Waterloo Road star Jenna Louise Coleman) and she’ll be sticking around for at least the next year. Richard E Grant plays the dastardly villain Doctor Simeon, who is going to try to help an old enemy of the Doctor’s settle a grudge. I’m really excited about it.”

What sort of mood is the Doctor in, having only recently lost his previous assistant the Ponds?
“Obviously that’s had a grave effect on the man. I think he’s quite lonely really, and not really engaging in the way that he was when Amy and Rory were around. So, handily, he meets a jaunty new companion!”

So Clara she perks him up, does she?
“Of course, being presented with this young, beautiful woman does strange things to the Doctor – again. That’s what is so brilliant about the show, it reinvents itself all the time.”

You say she ‘does strange things to the Doctor’. Can you elaborate on that – does he fancy her?
“I think the Doctor is always attracted to his companion in one way or another. Yeah, he’s certainly taken by this striking young lady. But I still haven’t read the scripts for the first two episodes next year, so I genuinely don’t know what happens next. Jenna looks stunning on camera.”

Assuming the Doctor feels guilty about the way Rory and Amy departed, would you say he uses Clara as a distration?
“The burden of that loss will always be with him, as it always is when an assistant leaves. For my Doctor, Amy and Rory were so significant. But I think it’s important that the grieving takes place and then the show moves back into adventure mode. I felt that when Rose Tyler (assistant to both Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant’s Doctors, played by Billie Piper) finally left, it affected Martha’s journey too much – he was always talking about Rose.”

Apart from Clara’s appearance, how’s she shaping up as an assistant?
“Clara is instantly likeable which is important for the Doctor’s companions. I think she’s in with a good chance of being really popular.”

Were there any memorable moments while filming the Christmas special?
“Actually, we filmed in Bristol and hundreds and hundreds of people turned up to watch us film through the night on occasions, and quite a few photos from the set ended up in the local paper. It’s always wonderful when loads of people are cheering you on at 3am!”

Was anyone nerdy enough on set to point out that Richard E Grant has played the Doctor himself?
(Richard first played the unofficial ‘Tenth Doctor’ – aka ‘The Quite Handsome Doctor’ – in a 1996 Comic Relief sketch, then again in 2003 for the online animated series Scream of the Shalka)

“Yeah me actually!”

Well done! Did you talk about what it’s like playing that role?
“Not in any great detail to be perfectly honest. But he’s got wonderful credentials to be a great Doctor, Richard, because of how he is. He’s also brilliant at being villainous, and looks so wonderful in the Victorian garb.”

Can you give us any more info about his character Doctor Simeon?
“He looks great in a hat and has some fur on his jacket, I can tell you that!”

Doctor Who is one of a handful of TV shows that thrived after being axed and then relaunched years later. Are there any old shows you’d like to see back?
“Blind Date. Let’s get Cilla Black on the telly for one. That’s a good question. What do I miss? I loved Men Behaving Badly. I remember watching it during the 1990s with my parents – on a Friday I think. And then I’d watch Harry Enfield and Chums. If I could bring anything back, though, it would be Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.”

Really!?
“Yeah, I think Michael Crawford (as Frank Spencer) is a total genius. I mean, the stunts he does! You wouldn’t get anywhere near doing that now. It’s whole flat buildings falling on him. It’s incredible. I was also a big fan of Blackadder, I loved his brilliant grumpiness. Also, Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. What’s so brilliant about him is that he never apologises for his mistake, so he’ll knock a load of snooker cues over and then he’ll go, ‘What do you mean, you fool?’ Clouseau and Blackadder both have huge egos, whereas Frank Spencer is unaware of how ridiculous he is.”

Do you believe there’s a limit to how long an actor should play Doctor Who?
“All good things come to an end. My mum is aghast at the thought of me ever quitting Doctor Who! But the show is the star and it will be infinitely successful without me. Who knows? At the moment I’m committed to the show next year and we’ll be marking the 50th anniversary. After that I’ll sit down with Steven Moffat the writer and see where we go next. Maybe someone could play the Doctor for seven years like Tom Baker, but… it’s 10 months a year.”

*The Doctor Who Christmas special screens on BBC1 on Christmas Day at 5.20pm