Freema Agyeman, the actress who starred as companion Martha Jones during the Tenth Doctor era on television, and may do so again in audio, has described working on Doctor Who like “standing right in the eye of the storm”.
The character of Martha Jones was introduced in Series 3 of the revived show, and her unrequited love storyline with the Doctor followed two series of blossoming romance with Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), the titular character of the first episode when the show returned in 2005. There was no doubt a lot of pressure on Agyeman’s shoulder as successor.
Martha returned in a part-time presence in Series 4, alongside working with UNIT and the team of Torchwood Three in television spin-off Torchwood. This opened the door to cameos later in the Doctor’s timeline, including comic stories Don’t Step on the Grass and Escape to Penhaxico, the first Doctor Who writing credit of future executive producer Brian Minchin.
In an interview with the Metro advertising her new television role in Amazon’s New Amsterdam, Agyeman described the effect portraying Martha had on her career, including the way she picked subsequent jobs.
“Now I am only just getting back to the point where I am looking just from the inside out – do I like this character? Can I see potential for this character? Can I make it work for me?
“Fundamentally, if I can, then it has the ability to resonate out, rather than looking from the outside in and predicting what people are going to want to see or want from you.
“But Doctor Who, at the time, you are standing right in the eye of the storm of it and you’re not aware of the magnitude and I am glad I wasn’t, and then when it explodes it’s how you deal with that afterward.”
With the show getting ever larger in popularity after its 2005 revival, it was in the years immediately after taking the role of Martha that Agyeman realised that it carried responsibility despite her not continuing to portray the character.
“First you think how will it [a new role] be received, what kind of exposure will it get, and the marketing aspects… and then it can also affect your decision in the roles you pick – how will my fanbase receive this?
But really we are just artists and you feel like you want the opportunity to experiment and to find new things.”
Agyeman has a been a regular in six television shows since her Doctor Who departure, which may end soon if this quote is anything to go by:
“Big Finish are brilliant and the stuff they do really fills the timeline gaps for the fandom. I have been asked by them a couple of times but timing wise it hasn’t worked out – I think there might be something coming up soon but I can’t say what.”
Let’s hope she does indeed return for new audio adventures soon!