Along with Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill joins new Doctor Jodie Whittaker’s Tardis team in Doctor Who series 11, with the trio following the new Time Lord across time and space.
And in an exclusive interview (extended from her chat in the latest issue of the Radio Times magazine), we caught up with Gill to find out how it felt to be cast in the sci-fi series, why she’s embarrassed to show her Doctor Who run to friends and family and why she’s more than happy to leave more serious roles behind.
So, Mandip – how did you feel when you got the part of Yasmin?
I was so excited. It was a long, complicated process and I really wanted it, so it was a tense time. I remember going for a walk to get it out of my head when my agent phoned. The minute she told me I burst out crying.
But then I just wiped my tears and went to Sainsbury’s. I got it out of my head and went back home, but couldn’t tell anyone, so just stayed in my room.
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And when it was announced?
It was nice. I was at a wedding and obviously my social media got a bit excited for a while. But it died down quite fast.
The other day there was a lady opposite me on the train reading Doctor Who Magazine with a picture of me in it. I was like, “Oh, my God, that’s me!” But she didn’t have a clue.
Was it tough keeping it a secret?
No, not really. You can get a job, but you have to actually start doing it before you can be like ‘Yeah, I’ve really got that job.’ Because you just don’t know in this business.
I could start telling everyone I’ve got it and they’re like ‘Oh no sorry we didn’t mean you. Oh I’ve got mixed up.’
It’s happened before, or it just didn’t work out. So for me it’s not hard not telling people. I really like to sign something and start it and then say you’ve got a job.
What was the first day like?
Really nerve-racking. But I’d worked with Tosin before on Hollyoaks so it felt like I had a friend on set. And I instantly got on with Jodie.
Was it nice to have a familiar face on set?
Yes. Jodie and Brad are absolutely amazing and really welcoming, but [with Tosin] it felt like I had my friend. So it’s not as scary.
It wasn’t just like I’m coming to a different place, I’ve got to move into a different place, they’re all brand-new people, I don’t know what they’re like.
How does it feel now that filming has nearly finished?
What I find the weirdest is, I could have carried a baby in that time!
In a way, you have!
Yeah I have. Not single-handedly. But it’s weird that we’re coming to the end. I remember doing the first readthrough, and thinking ‘Wow – we’re doing this for nine months, this is gonna be so long.’ And now we’ve got a matter of weeks!
Has it lived up to your expectations?
Absolutely. Absolutely, ten times over. I’ve had such a laugh, it’s been so fun on set.
When I went up for this job, I just wanted to have fun. I’d done so many other parts that were serious, I do a lot of dramas and stuff. I just wanted to run, I wanted to scream, and I wanted to chase things. And we’ve done all that.
Where will you be watching it?
I do actually like to watch my stuff. I don’t have too many friends and family in London, but I’ll gather my three people together for the first episode — I’ll have to pre-warn them about my weird run.
I’ve obviously never seen myself running and when I did, I was like, “Oh no, not like that!”
You’re a diverse cast — when you were growing up, would you have liked to have seen more people of colour on screen?
When I was younger I didn’t feel I was represented in popular culture — you couldn’t get a brown doll in the shops and you didn’t see many brown people on TV.
I thought I was going to be the first brown person on The Bill! And now there’s going to be millions of other people watching me and relating to my character.
What’s really exciting for me is I’ve got a two-year-old niece — who does have a brown doll — and I am going to make her dress up as my character. Is that weird? I wanted her to be a mini-me and she has no choice.
A condensed version of this interview, along with other exclusive Doctor Who interviews, pictures and behind-the-scenes secrets, is in the latest edition of the Radio Times magazine, on sale now