TV Scoop interview: Velile Tshabalala, Doctor Who

As we all know, there’s a Doctor Who Christmas Special again this year and, from what I’ve seen, it looks pretty good. Full of Victoriana, and Cybermen with new bits and colours (man, they were so due a makeover), it also stars David Morrissey as another Doctor. Quite from where this new, other Doctor came from is still a mystery, but as his assistant is Rosita, played by newcomer Velile Tshabalala. I managed to grab a few words with her a week or so ago, and this is what she told me about her amazing Doctor Who experience. Have a gander after the jump…

For all our Doctor Who news and reviews, go here.

TV Scoop: Your known more as a comedy actress, so how in blazes have you ended up on Doctor Who? Velile Tshabalala: I’m still asking myself that question now!

TVS: You must be pinching yourself… VT: I am. I’ve been pinching myself since I got the part in March. I’m black and blue from the pinching! It’s really funny because when I’m talking about Doctor Who my friends really laugh at me. They say that I just seem so laid back about it all, but if I really let it all sink in and think about how big this is I’ll just freak out. I’m just trying to stay calm!

TVS: How did you get the part? Was it the normal way… you auditioned etc? VT: Yeah, just the normal way. There was talk of Russell T David seeing me on something – I think it was Tittybangbang – and that as fantastic to hear. I was in Manchester at the time doing a little tour, and I got a phone call from my agent, who was very excited, who told me that I had to make it back on Friday for an audition for Doctor Who. I read the script, and I didn’t realise how big the part was. Oh my God, it was a really big deal, and being such a geek I learned the lines off by heart. I went to the audition, i was only in there for 20-25minutes and the next Friday I got the call. It was so quick! I was so shocked! My agent rang me very early in the morning when I was still half asleep. I was just shocked!

TVS: So… so.. so… tell us about your character… VT: My character is called Rosita, and she’s a lady of the night.

TVS: You saucy devil! VT: I know! Haha!

TVS: We’ve had Rose, we’ve had Catherine Tate and Freema, what is Rosita all about? VT: She’s very feisty and mouthy. She’s the other doctor’s companion, and she really stands her ground. She does argue back a lot and she’s such a great character to play.

TVS: I know you can’t give too much away when it comes to the storyline… but tell us anyway. VT: The Cybermen are going to be back, and they’re scary. And there’s a new creature on the show called the Cybershades. We’ll see quite a bit of them, and we have a fantastic villain called Ms Hartigan played by Dervla Kirwin. David Tennant’s Doctor arrives in 1851 and the place has been taken over by the Cybermen. There’s also a mysterious death. They all basically try to figure out what’s going on. There’s a lot of surprises too.

TVS: Obviously David Tennant has now announced that he’s going to leave, and David Morrissey is in it as another Doctor. Does that get explained? Why there are two Doctors? VT: Yeah. It is a big moment in the episode when things get explained, but obviously I can’t say too much. I’m so cruel!

TVS: Back in March, you turned up in Cardiff, you walked on-set and there was David Tennant. And there was David Morrissey. Two of our best actors, right there in front of you. Everyone I’ve spoken to about David Tennant says that he’s a really lovely guy but also quite intense. Not in a bad way. But what did you think? What was the first thing that you saw that made you think, “This. Is. Doctor. Who”? VT: They managed to find this very small, little alley way… a great little location. It was really hidden – you come off a street and there it was, but it was all covered up. They pulled back this big blanket covering and it was just like walking into another world. The first scene you’ll see is the first place we filmed in, and that was the first place I walked into. It was so surreal. And then David Tennant came walking up to me. But he gave me a massive cuddle.

TVS: That’s really cool. There’s nothing like seeing some on the telly who seem like nice people actually turn out to be nice people. VT: Yeah, exactly. After that David Morrissey came over and said hello. I don’t think I said much – I just stood there.

TVS: You’ve worked with the Chuckle Brother before. Is working with the two Davids comparable? Are they sci-fi’s answer to the Chuckle Brothers? VT: It was different, actually. Hahahaha! Don’t make me say horrible, please! Yeah, it was different. Hahaha!

TVS: Do you get to do lots of action stuff? VT: Yeah! She’s really in the thick of it all, and there’s one point when Rosita helps the Doctors out of a bit of a pickle. I was running around with an axe, I got to punch someone and bash some doors down. Bring it on! I love it! It’s all really energetic and great fun, and whenever there’s a big, action scene you’ll see David Tennant running on the spot and doing star jumps. I was too lazy, and my hair and boobs were bouncing around too much.

TVS: Talking of boobs… did you wear a proper Victorian-style corset and that kind of stuff? VT: Yeah, it was so cool. It looked great. Every girl would love to dress up like that, it’s so much fun. It was such a novelty at first, but the one big mistake I made on the first day was having a big, fat fry-up. When I put the corset on I thought I was going to bring it all back up again, but I managed to keep it down. When I first put it on, I thought to myself, “Where did this cleavage come from?”, but some days when there wasn’t a lot going on I’d go back to my nice, little trailer… but I couldn’t sleep! I had the wig squeezing the life out of me, the corset squeezing the life out of me… it was difficult to eat lunch too! It wasn’t all glamour, glamour, glamour!

TVS: Is this it for you and Doctor Who? Will Rosita be hanging around after this episode? VT: It depends on whether she lives or dies…

TVS: You’re such a tease! VT: I’m getting annoyed with myself because I can’t tell anyone! Hahaha!

TVS: But you wouldn’t say no if other Doctor Who opportunities presented themselves? VT: Oh, I’d be crazy if I said I didn’t want to work on a show like that again. I had the time of my life. When you get a taste for it, of course you want more. But whatever happens afterwards is a bonus. I’m just happy to have been a part of it.

Velile stars as Rosita in the Doctor Who Christmas special: The Next Doctor, Christmas Day on BBC One

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *