'Velile Tshabalala' may not trip easily off the tongue but, before too long, the name of this actress could well be on everyone's lips. DAN COOMBS caught up with her before her first pantomime appearance at the Compass Theatre and explains why
AS CAREER-ENHANCING opportunities go they don't get much better; earlier this year Velile Tshabalala got the type of phone call from an agent an actress can only dream of - a casting for Dr Who.
"I thought it would be for only a couple of lines - I would have taken that. The next thing I knew I was cast as Dr Who's new assistant," says Velile.
She was in Manchester at the time, doing a small job, but rushed back down to London.
"When I told her the good news, my mum said 'I hope you're not a Dalek or one of those horrible monsters'."
This month is a big one for Velile, 24, for as well as appearing in the Dr Who Christmas Special, she is Rowena Ratface in Dick Whittington, this year's Christmas pantomime at the Compass Theatre, in Glebe Road, Ickenham.
It is her first venture into the world of panto, but an opportunity which the actress, who has starred for several years in the children's BBC show Kerching, is keen to make the most of.
"I can't wait, I'm really looking forward to it. I'm enjoying the chance to play a baddie. I've always wanted to do a panto, and the Compass is a lovely theatre.
"The thing I love about theatre rather than the television is the instant reactions you get from the audience," Velile says.
"I'm also looking forward to it because Danny from Kerching (Jamie Sweeney) is also in it and it feels like I've grown up with him. It'll be great for us to catch up."
The show begins on Saturday and runs through until December 31, but the cast have a day off on Christmas Day, which will allow Velile to watch herself spinning in the Tardis alongside David Tennant and David Morrisey.
"I'll be with my family in Ilford at Christmas, and I'll be watching the television through my eyes, I can't watch myself back.
"It feels like so long ago I filmed the episode - it was in April. It's a good one with lots of unexpected things happening, which I can't say too much about, but my character is really feisty and gives as good as she gets."
She plays Rosita, assistant to an alternative Doctor in Victorian times, played by David Morrisey, whom David Tennant meets when he travels back in time for another battle against the Cybermen.
"I spent the whole time before filming swotting up on Dr Who. When I was there it was brilliant. I was really nervous working alongside such big people, but everyone was so welcoming and Ifelt like I'd be there forever.
"I've no idea what the future might bring. I still live with my mum. I just want to still be doing what I'm doing now, as many different and varying parts as possible.
"This role may change everything for me, but I don't know what to expect. I'm glad to be here doing what I'm doing and I'm just taking each day as it comes.'
Velile, born in Whitechapel, has starred in children's TV favourite Chucklevision as a librarian as well as being several characters in the BBC Three comedy sketch show Tittytittybangbang.
"Being on Chucklevision was fantastic - I watched it when I was younger. When I told my older brothers they were amazed; they couldn't believe it was still going.
"My parents had their doubts about me going into acting at first because all my brothers have trained to be doctors or lawyers, but I feel I'm showing them it was the right thing for me to do.
"I got the job on Kerching when Iwas 18 but it seems like longer, probably because I was playing a character who was a lot younger, and I was doing that for four series.
"I wouldn't swap it for anything."