Millie Gibson is going to be a star. Scrap that. Millie Gibson is already a star. Aged just 18, she won Best Young Actor at the British Soap awards for her role as Kelly Neelan in Coronation Street.

Now, with her latest role as the new Doctor Who companion Ruby Sunday, her career is about to go stratospheric. “I’m just bracing myself for the chaos,” says Millie from her new pad in Cardiff before season 14 of the sci-fi classic drops this December.

As we talk dream roles, Who villains, and Cardiff nights out, it becomes clear that she’s more than ready for the adventure… 

Square Mile: Millie, it’s safe to say your life is about to change quite a bit. How are you feeling about joining a show like Doctor Who? 

Millie Gibson: I can’t even picture it being on in my own living room, never mind someone else’s in America. The hugeness of the show, it’s the biggest that I’ve ever done. I’ll just have to try and wrap my head around that somehow. 

I got a text and it was just like, “Hey, this is Jodie Whittaker.” Like what… who? It was such a surreal thing to pop up on your phone. She was so, so lovely, loads of genuine warm words. It was the same for Mandip [Gill] as well. I’m really grateful that they both reached out, because you don’t have to do that. It’s one of those jobs that’s quite unique. And I think to have that community of people that have done it themselves – it’s a nice bonding experience, to relay your time on the show, and their time, and just to talk, right? 

SM: What are your own memories of watching Doctor Who? 

MG: The Weeping Angels are my biggest oh-my-God monster. I love how Doctor Who’s specific monsters intertwine with real life. Like, when you see statues, I still think of Weeping Angels, all those years after that episode came out.

Matt Smith and Amy Pond [Karen Gillan] are my two, which scares the hell out of Whovians because they’re like ‘Oh my God, I’m so old.’ You’re not! That was just my doctor. I rewatched that season whilst I was auditioning, actually. And I was like, “If I don’t get this part, I’m never going to be able to rewatch this season again.”

Millie Gibson for Square Mile

SM: Do you have a favourite companion? 

MG: Amy’s my favourite. I reached out to Karen Gillan on Instagram, just to say how much I love her and respect her, and whether she had any advice. She kindly replied – again, she didn’t have to do that. It was just the most comforting words, and so genuine, just like Jodie Whittaker.  I’m glad I reached out. That was my first chat with one of my heroes.

SM: What makes Ruby different to the companions before her?

MG: She’s obviously the youngest, which is crazy. Most actors or actresses play younger ages to what they actually are. I’m playing my own age, and I think you can kind of see that in Ruby. There’s a certain level of innocent youth, and she’s so energetic. She’s just craving for an adventure. She really balances out Ncuti [Gatwa]’s 15th Doctor traits and humanises him. I think my relationship with the doctor is something no one’s seen before, either. It’s a lot more platonic and playful. 

SM: And how is she different from you? 

MG: She’s a lot more positive than me. Honestly, the amount of things that happen and she’s just like, ‘oh well, it’s fine.’ I’d have a breakdown on those adventures. I was saying to Russell [T. Davies, Doctor Who showrunner] when I first got the description through for the character, “How do I not make her annoying?” You know those really positive people, where you’re just like “Oh, shut up.”I hope I’ve done that.

Mille Gibson

SM: You say Ruby is more positive than you; how do you deal with negativity? 

MG: I think there’s a lot of big personalities in this industry, and it’s just really easy to lose yourself. But don’t. It’s not the case to change. And yeah, don’t go on Twitter. 

SM: You’ve been acting since you were 11; can you talk us through your career so far? 

MG: Oh, gosh. Oldham Theatre Workshop was, I think, the second theatre company I went to? I was about 11 when I joined. I did a production there called Eyam, which is about the first village to be attacked by the plague, so it was a very cheery play.

There was an agent watching that show who asked me to audition for the agency. And I did. Then I got a part on a show called Jamie Johnson, which is a CBBC kids show. I was 12, I want to say? Coronation Street was obviously the thing that lifted my profile the most and I did about four years there. 

And then I thought – my aunty said this phrase to me when I told her I was thinking of leaving Corrie, she said: “It’s like when your school uniform’s too big for you.” That’s exactly what it is. I left on a whim, hoping “Let’s see what’s out there; might go terribly wrong.”

Thank God they didn’t kill off my character, so I could come crawling back. Then I got a call from my agent on my last day at Corrie, saying, “You’ve got an audition for Doctor Who’s companion.” I thought, “Well, that will be a laugh.” And then I got it. So yeah, it’s been a weird few years.

Millie Gibson

SM: You’re now making a habit of acting on shows that are British institutions: Coronation Street and now Doctor Who. What do you think you’ve learnt as an actor? 

MG: I was just laughing about this – both shows are more than 60 years old. I was talking about it to Russell. On Coronation Street you can seem quite wooden if you’re still, so I was trying to ramp up the energy and be a bit more entertaining, because it’s quite a flat camera and not very detailed. 

But then on Doctor Who, the first director I worked with, Dylan Holmes Williams, was like “Just be still!”, because the camera’s so close to any facial expression you do. You can see what everyone is thinking.

But on Corrie, you really had to make an effort or else you’d look a bit wooden. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learnt: you just have to learn to chill a bit.

SM: You grew up watching Russell’s initial seasons of Doctor Who – what’s it like working with him now? 

MG: It’s weird, especially reading his scripts. Russell’s scripts are like reading a book; you can get lost in it. You can picture everything because the stage directions are so descriptive and precise. 

I remember the script I read for the first episode I filmed, which was episode four. I remember closing that and wanting to reread it, because there’s so much information and detail. I’ve never got that much hype from a script before. 

SM: Is there an episode you’d love to be in? 

MG: I’d just love to do an episode of Weeping Angels in the 20s. We could be in this swinger’s jazz bar in a flapper dress… and then there’s a Weeping Angel.

Mille Gibson

SM: What’s new in this era of Doctor Who?

MG: I think Gen Z will like it. I think it’s going with the times, coming of age. Especially with the cast that they’ve gotten this series; people are going to be blown away. 

SM: How do you unwind after such an intense filming schedule? 

MG: When season 1 wrapped, I went through a bad addiction to Sims 4. Also, I love watching films. I have a great group of friends and family around me that completely take my mind off things. It’s like anyone else, really. I think every job is the same when you’re having a stressful day. Talk to your friends or your family. But yeah, Sims 4 … wow.

SM: What kind of Sims player are you? 

MG: I would never look for cheats; I couldn’t figure it out. I played it really innocently. I was just like, trying to get everyone on a good career. And you know what? I got really caught up with design in the house. I’ve just bought a new place. And I was like, I need to stop because I’m getting stressed out about designing my own place.

SM: Seen any films you loved recently? 

MG: Oh my god. I have a whole Letterboxd account. I just went to the cinema to watch Saltburn. Oh, wow. If you go, go by yourself. It’s intense. I don’t know what type of audience I had in my screen because everything that happened, I was literally like, jaw dropping. I was looking around and no one was making any facial expressions. I was like ‘what is wrong with these people!’

I watched Dream Scenario, the new Nick Cage film, too. Yeah, that’s dark. I went in thinking ‘Oh, lovely comedy, get a glass of wine.’ And it went really dark.

Mille Gibson

SM: What would you be doing if you weren’t acting? 

MG: For sure writing. This industry is kind of all I know, it’s all I’ve been bothered to talk about. I was having this conversation with someone on set the other day: “What department would you work in if you weren’t acting?” 

We were saying focus pull – it must be the hardest thing ever. You know when they pull the focus to other actors? But yeah, I’d say writing is my answer. I genuinely can’t do anything else.

SM: If you could write anything, what kind of show would you like to create? 

MG: I think a one-woman show. I put ideas for scripts down all the time. It could be anything. I took such a shine to Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Fleabag. Something like that, but she’s mastered [breaking] the fourth wall, I don’t think I can copy that anymore.

SM: And do you have any dream roles? 

MG: I change my mind about this every single day. But definitely a villain-esque sort of role, more dark-humoured and complex. Also, a biopic figure, just because I can study them and it’ll be a nice challenge.

SM: You’re talking from your new home in Cardiff. What was it like moving to a new city? 

MG: I found it difficult in the first season. I’m definitely better now, but it was like a supernatural university. Everyone my age is going to university, and I was going to Cardiff to play the companion. It was surreal.

But yeah, it was very hard. I didn’t know anyone; I was living by myself. I didn’t even see Ncuti for the first few months – he was doing Sex Education, because he’s just a boss. I was by myself being like: Is this even Doctor Who? And then as soon as he came, I was like, ‘Ah, there it is.’ So yeah, it was… it was a tricky first few months.

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SM: Any Cardiff recommendations? 

MG: Cardiff’s a great place. When you’re used to a bigger city, it’s an adjustment, but such a cool place to explore. I’ve been on many a night out here. I love Thomas by Tom Simmons in Pontcanna – I’m actually going there tonight. Oh, their chips – they chop it all and layer each bit with garlic. Oh my God they’re so good. You need to get a date night going!

SM: You speak so fondly of Ncuti. What do you think you’ve learnt from him? 

MG: So much, I think he’s made me a better actor. To watch him … I kind of forgot I was in the scene, it’s such a masterclass. There’s a scene in the Christmas episode where I cried watching him do his thing, and I wasn’t even on camera, so it was a wasted performance.

People are going to be gobsmacked by this new era. They’re going to go wild for his version of the doctor because he’s so beautiful and so effortlessly great as an actor and as a human being. I’ve just learnt that I will never be Ncuti Gatwa. 

SM: Describe the new season in three words. 

MG: Colourful, musical, dark. 

Watch Doctor Who on BBC 1 and BBC iPlayer.