Indira Varma ‘thrilled’ to live out Regency-era dream in new Doctor Who episode

Indira Varma has said she was “thrilled” to live out her dream of acting within the Regency era in the upcoming Doctor Who episode.

The Game Of Thrones actress feels she did not previously land period drama roles due to being mixed race, crediting shows like Netflix’s Bridgerton for breaking down racial boundaries.

She will star as the mysterious Duchess of Pemberton in the sci-fi series’ new episode, which is set in Regency-era England.

Titled Rogue, the episode will see the Doctor and his companion Ruby, played by Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson, land in 1813 where guests at the duchess’ party are being murdered.

(James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios/PA)
(James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios/PA)

Ahead of the episode airing on Saturday, Varma said: “I’ve always wanted to be in Jane Austen so I was thrilled that it was Regency.

“I thought it was sort of a happy irony that because when I was growing up, they were always filming the Jane Austen adaptions, and being mixed race, I could never ever be in those shows.

“Now, it is all changing which is fantastic, with shows like Bridgerton, and similarly Doctor Who, it can do what it wants.

“We are in a different time now and I was just so thrilled that I was going to be in a period drama from that time.”

The actress said she had “so much fun” playing the duchess, who she described as “whimsical, greedy and playful”.

Varma has plenty of experience within the sci-fi genre, having previously starred in Torchwood as Suzie Costello and she played agent Tala Durith in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.

While she noted these shows have their own “huge history”, she feels Doctor Who “stands on its own within the genre and it’s uniquely British”.

She added: “I feel really proud to be in a British show. I really love the way that the companion is written as one of the viewers, an ordinary person, and they get to go on all these adventures.

“They are the eyes and ears of the audience and I think that’s brilliant. Also the fact that the Doctor can go anywhere in time and space – anywhere, any universe, anytime in history.

“It’s not just the world that becomes your oyster, it’s the universe and beyond, isn’t it? And I just think that’s amazing.

“It can be silly and fun, and it’s also quite profound. There’s such humanity in it, and it can be incredibly moving. It’s got it all.”

The episode will also feature an alien bounty hunter called Rogue, played by Jonathan Groff, who is “about to change the Doctor’s life”.

(James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios/PA)
(James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios/PA)

Groff said jumping into the world of Doctor Who was a challenge, but praised Gatwa and Gibson for being “so warm and welcoming” to the new cast members.

He also hailed Gatwa as “one of the most exciting actors working today” after working with him closely on set.

“I think he is such a star. He’s so unpredictable and thrilling to act with because you never see the same thing twice,” he added.

“He’s so spontaneous, and yet so deeply connected to what he’s doing. He really cares. He’s really in it fully, and he’s got this force and positivity that is completely unique to him.

“It’s just phenomenal. I just adore him. I think he is one of the most exciting actors working today.”

Groff also revealed the pair got on so well that they attended Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour together amid their filming schedule.

The new Doctor Who episode, titled Rogue, launches on BBC iPlayer at midnight on Saturday and airs on BBC One later in the day at 6.45pm.