Doctor who won't be lonely this Christmas
When: Christmas Day, 5.15pm.
Where: BBC One.
D octor Who's festive episode is always one of the biggest events of the TV calendar, but there is an extra reason to watch this year. It is the first time fans will see Jenna-Louise Coleman as the Doctor's new sidekick, Clara.
The actress made a surprise appearance in September in the role of Oswin, who was in fact a Dalek, but she insists Clara is another entity.
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"I'm not Oswin. I'm a different person," says Coleman. "The connection is that it's me playing them both, but this is the mystery. This is where the series goes ..."
She tails off, at pains not to reveal too much. As usual, the episode, titled The Snowmen, is shrouded in secrecy.
The show features the villainous Dr Simeon, played by Richard E Grant, who controls an army of snowmen.
The Doctor (Matt Smith) first meets Clara as a barmaid, but viewers later discover she is a governess to the children of Captain Latimer (Tom Ward).
The episode also sees the Time Lord joined by familiar characters Silurian Madame Vastra, her human friend Jenny and the friendly Sontaran Strax.
Downhearted and reclusive after the departure of Amy Pond and Rory, the Doctor is initially reluctant to engage with the problems of the universe, but Clara wants his help and won't back down until she gets it.
Coleman says: "She's up for adventure and knows what she wants and is very witty. She's not intimated by the Doctor – she finds him amazing and ridiculous in equal measures."
Faced with the inevitable question of a possible romance, she says: "There's a flirtation between them and they're definitely drawn to each other."
For any actress, taking on the coveted role of the Time Lord's sidekick is a huge deal. There is huge pressure to keep details under wraps.
"I wasn't allowed to say what I was auditioning for, I had to call it Men On Waves And we had different character names – Jasmine was one of them," says the actress, who is best known for playing Emmerdale's Jasmine Thomas.
For his part, Smith says meeting a new "hot chick" will have an interesting effect on his alter ego, who's feeling lonely and glum in a post-Ponds world.
"He's presented with this young beautiful woman and that does strange things to the Doctor."
Smith, who has played the demanding role for three years, refuses to be drawn on when he will eventually hang up his sonic screwdriver, but says he hopes to be around for next year's Christmas special.
But, for now, he's thrilled to be involved in the 2012 festive episode. "I'm very proud to be a part of it," he says. "It always feels special."