Who's that girl? New assistant for the Doctor lands in West Sussex

TIME travel is getting to be second nature for Velile Tshabalala.

At Christmas, the upcoming actress will be on our TV screens as the latest assistant in Doctor Who and last weekend she materialised at Amberley Working Museum to help bring history alive as part of Off The Buses! - a family theatre trail staged as part of the Walking West Sussex Festival.

Tshabalala portrayed a young Jamaican woman battling to sort out her new life after moving to post-war Britain.

This has been a great year for the 24-year-old, who started working professionally at the age of 18, initially in the CBBC sitcom Kerching! and later the BBC3 comedy series Tittybangbang.

"It's a small world, I have found," she says. "It's a bit like networking, and I have been lucky to keep working, job after job, especially this year."

And 2008's crowning moment for Tshabalala will be in December when she goes out to the nation as Rosita in the Doctor Who Christmas special – which the BBC has announced is called The Next Doctor.

Reappearing as the monsters are the Cybermen, and Tshabalala said: "I am just so excited about it. We filmed it in April in Cardiff and Gloucester and Monmouth and so it has died down a bit, but now it is getting closer and I just can't wait.

"It is just a one-off Christmas special but out of all the episodes I could have been asked to do it is far better that it is this one."

Just what it will lead to remains to be seen. "A lot of people have been saying that it hasn't yet been decided who the next assistant will be. But obviously I would love to do more. At the moment I am just being positive about it, that I did it and that I had a great time. But I would love to be in it again if I can."

Her character is a feisty creation. "I have to be very careful what I can say and can't say about it all. You have to bear with me! But she is an East Londoner, very Cockney.

"The Doctor is faced with another Doctor. Rosita is the assistant to the other Doctor but as the episode goes on she starts helping the Doctor we know."

When it goes out, Tshabalala will be seeing it for the first time. "A lot of the time you were acting with nothing in front of you. They put all the monsters and creatures in later. We were doing a lot with green screen. That was a real challenge to act scared when there is nothing there!"

Check out the Gazette website's Doctor Who in West Sussex section where, among our Time Lord-related stories, you'll find a fascinating feature on county locations that have been used to film the cult sci-fi hit.