Catherine Tate’s 2007 interview on being Doctor Who companion Donna

We're celebrating ten years of modern Doctor Who by looking back at our favourite Doctors and their trusty companions...

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Rose has gone, but the Time Lord remains. Surely he can’t be lonely this Christmas?

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“Well, the Doctor’s in mourning, really,” says David Tennant. “Although Rose is alive and well, she’s dead to the Doctor. He can never see her again. And this is someone who not so very long ago lost his entire people [when the Time Lords were wiped out]. So he’s coming to terms with that, and at the same time dealing with Donna, who’s a bit of a handful.”

There’s the answer: no. He won’t be lonely. Quite the opposite. Donna, the title character of Doctor Who’s festive special, The Runaway Bride, is played by Catherine Tate. Fans will recall her surprise appearance in the Tardis right at the end of series two.

“I got a call from my agent saying [writer] Russell T Davies had been in touch and would I be interested?” recalls Tate. “I said, ‘Yes, absolutely, whatever it is!’ I thought I might be a Cyberman on the corner of the screen or something.” Instead, she plays one-off companion Donna in a Christmas tale that sees the return of last year’s robot Santas and a huge new monster, the arachnid Empress of the Racnoss, played by Sarah Parish.

This is an adventure, Tennant explains, that “happens at breakneck pace”. Tate agrees. “There was lots of running for the Runaway Bride,” she says. “David would be off like a whippet and I’d be lagging behind going, ‘Can’t you just pretend to run fast?’ Then wardrobe would go, ‘We can see your trainers. Can you put the satin court shoes on again?’ I think what they’ll do in post-production is slow him down and speed me up. Get an average speed.”

A wedding dress: not the ideal running gear? “No, but at least I didn’t have a constant change of costume. I never had to say, ‘Box pleats don’t suit me.’ But it was a very pretty dress. It was like dress-up!”

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Russell T Davies has also giant spider, the show’s largest non-computer-generated monster yet.