Freema Agyeman hasn’t travelled in the Tardis since 2008 but the actress says fans still ask about Doctor Who all the time. “It was seven years ago and I did it for about a year and a half – it’s the part I played for the least amount of time in my career – but that’s the nature of it and I know that’s the obsession with the show,” she says (at which point I guiltily glance at the floor).
The actress – who’s gone on to star in Law & Order UK and Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries – adds, “you hope that some of those fans stick with you and follow you to your next project, but you’re under no illusions. The machine is the machine – these are institutions and they’re quite immense.”
Agyeman – who recently lent her voice to Six Degrees of Assassination, a new radio drama from Audible – may have bid farewell to the Whoniverse, but she’s got plenty to keep her busy, including a role in new Netflix drama Sense8, directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski, creators of the Matrix trilogy.
“I’m a massive Matrix fan,” says Freema. “Lana’s just adorable – so laser smart and cripplingly intelligent but so non-condescending with it because they’re interested in people. So when you’re talking to them, they’re all ears.
“It’s this global thing so they’ve been in Berlin, London, Iceland and my stuff was in San Francisco and Chicago.”
When it comes to high-profile series like Sense8, does her experience on a show like Doctor Who help deal with the pressure?
“They’re great baptisms of fire in so many ways. You get a perspective on scale that you often don’t have to then live up to or emulate because it’s so full on. It’s not exhausting in a negative way but it can be all-encompassing.
“I always liken Doctor Who to this locomotive going at a million miles per hour. You jump on it, you’re exposed to all of that and you can just get off – it keeps going, the show is a big deal. For you as an actor, you can have the positive and negative experiences of that and then you can move on – it doesn’t have to overshadow or affect the jobs you do afterwards.
“Of course, the exposure helps because everyone knows who you are and it might increase your chances of getting work, but it’s not something that has to oversee every other choice you make.”
Six Degrees of Assassination sees her join actor Andrew Scott who you may recognise from a little-known series called Sherlock. “I don’t watch Sherlock and I feel terrible about that,” she winces, before turning to her co-star: “Do you hate me?” “Not even one slight bit,” he replies.
The coming together of the two fandoms is sure to create an audience for the pair’s audio drama – a political thriller following an MI5 investigation into the assassination of the British Prime Minister.
“It’s thrilling and exciting for people to experience that from the safety of their own home,” says Freema. “It’s not too heavy on the political side of things so you’re going to get a mainstream audience that can come on board with it. It’s a brilliant whodunit.”