A Law Unto Herself; Bubbly Actress Freema Agyeman Talks to Kate Whiting about the Pressure to Maintain the Success of Law & Order: UK and Why She'll Always Feel Part of the Doctor Who Family

Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), March 6, 2011 | Go to article overview

A Law Unto Herself; Bubbly Actress Freema Agyeman Talks to Kate Whiting about the Pressure to Maintain the Success of Law & Order: UK and Why She'll Always Feel Part of the Doctor Who Family


FREEMA Agyeman is definitely not engaged and she's in hysterics to hear that her Wikipedia entry says she is. "Oh my God, no! That's hilarious," says the 31-year-old.

"I'm going to look at that, that's so funny, my boyfriend's going to panic!" Overcoming her giggles, the actress best known for being given the unenviable task of replacing the hugely popular Billie Piper as David Tennant's sidekick on Doctor Who puts the record straight.

"I'm in a really great relationship for the first time ever, but I've never been a massive marriage fan.

"But of late, I'm really happy, so you start entertaining the idea. Maybe it would be quite nice... but it's definitely not happening any time soon," she finally confirms, laughing again.

Not that Agyeman would have time to plan a wedding anyway. She's filming the fifth and sixth series of Law & Order: UK while promoting the fourth one which is about to start on ITV1.

The original US show may have begun 20 years ago, but the UK version only came to our screens in 2009 with Agyeman playing junior Crown prosecutor Alesha Phillips.

"We've been really pleased with the response," she says. "You hope it will do well because the American one's gone on for so long, but they're not exactly the same, so you do wonder if it'll be as popular on this side of the water."

Luckily for Agyeman, the show has been a hit with viewers, but she admits there's now a new fear of maintaining its success. But if her previous work is anything to go by, imminent failure is highly unlikely.

When she appeared as Martha Jones on Doctor Who in 2007, wearing that trademark red leather jacket and her hair in a spiky ponytail that only served to emphasise those Nefertiti cheekbones, she certainly made people take notice.

She continued to tackle subsequent roles in sci-fi show Survivors and BBC period drama Little Dorrit with the same level of crackling energy.

Yet Agyeman says she didn't catch the acting bug until quite late, when she performed in her first sixth form play.

"It was only when I went to uni to study performing arts that I started discovering this different world. Up until then, I didn't know about drama school because none of my friends were doing it, no-one in my family or at my school had any idea," says the east London-born actress who grew up on a council estate.

After parts in Casualty and The Bill, she auditioned for a part on what she thought was sci-fi drama Torchwood and was given the role of Martha Jones in Doctor Who instead.

She left the show two years later in 2008 and then returned for David Tennant's final episode last year. But she still feels she's part of the Doctor Who family, especially now Peter Davison is joining Law & Order in the fifth series.

"Working with him feels like I'm back in the family again. That Doctor Who experience is constant, once you're in it, it stays with you.

"I enjoyed doing the job, but I'm loving Law & Order and I don't feel like I've had to turn my back on one in order to do the other."

In the UK version of the show, each episode of the crime drama is divided into two parts. …

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