The hunt is still on for a new companion to join Peter Capaldi in the Tardis for the next series of Doctor Who – and one name who could be in the frame for the part is Rakhee Thakrar, known to EastEnders fans as Shabnam Masood.
It is understood that Thakrar, who left EastEnders in February, is on a list of actresses in the frame to replace Jenna Coleman in the coveted role.
According to a source, auditions are poised to begin for the part with Thakrar – who won plaudits from the soap’s producers and fans – in line for an audience with the producers.
Neither the BBC nor Thakrar’s agents would comment on the speculation, but if – and it’s a big if – she gets the gig, she would be the first non-white main companion since Freema Agyeman’s medic Martha Jones left David Tennant’s side back in 2008. But time will tell. As it so often does with Doctor Who…
32-year-old Thakrar earned herself a National Television Award nomination for Best Serial Performance earlier this year, but lost out to EastEnders co-star Danny Dyer. The actress made the shortlist following a traumatic 12 months for Shabnam that saw her deliver a stillborn baby in emotional scenes that won praise from both critics and viewers.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com about the impact of the storyline, the actress said: “It was handled so sensitively. It wasn’t sensationalised and the script was really simple and true. It was one of those rare times when you see a day play out as it would in real life.
“And I had a lot of feedback from parents saying that what they saw Shabnam and Kush experience was exactly how they themselves felt.”
As for the future of Doctor Who, RadioTimes.com revealed last month that Steven Moffat will be overseeing at least 12 new episodes for series ten in spring 2017 and a Christmas special which will air this year. It is believed he is planning to bow out with a special episode for Christmas 2017 after which he will be replaced as showrunner by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall.
When asked about casting for his new companion at the Radio Times Covers Party in January, Capaldi remained tight-lipped.
“We’ve just had some brief talks about it, we haven’t actually chosen someone yet — that I know of,” he said. “I would expect that I would meet them before we finalised all that… we’re looking for someone different.”
Doctor Who series ten will begin filming in May
And you can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below