Freema Agyeman

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Freema Agyeman
Freema Agyeman 2012 (cropped).jpg
Agyeman in 2012
Frema Agyeman

(1979-03-20) 20 March 1979 (age 40) [1]
London, England
Alma mater Middlesex University
  • Actress
  • model
  • singer
Years active2001–present

Freema Agyeman ( /ˈfrməˈɑːəmən/ ; [2] born Frema Agyeman; 20 March 1979) is an English actress who is known for playing Martha Jones in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who and its spin-off series Torchwood , and Amanita Caplan in the Netflix science fiction drama Sense8 .

Martha Jones fictional character from Doctor Who

Martha Jones is a fictional character played by Freema Agyeman in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who and its spin-off series, Torchwood. She is a companion of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, after Rose Tyler. According to the character's creator and executive producer Russell T Davies in his non-fiction book Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale, the character was developed from the beginning with the intention of appearing for a whole of the 2007 series, and to later make guest appearances in subsequent series and crossover appearances in the show's two spin-offs; Martha subsequently made guest appearances in Torchwood series two and in Doctor Who series four in 2008 and special episode The End of Time in 2010. Martha was also intended to make guest appearances in the 2009 series of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, but could not due to the actress's other work commitments.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas."


Following her departure from Doctor Who and a role in the BBC series Little Dorrit , Agyeman held a starring role as Alesha Phillips in the crime procedural drama Law & Order: UK between 2009 and 2012. In 2013, she made her US television debut on The CW's teen drama The Carrie Diaries as Larissa Loughlin, a style editor at Interview magazine. Other television appearances include Old Jack's Boat , Silent Witness , and Survivors . Agyeman also appeared as Penny in the 2015 film North v South . In 2018, she became part of the main cast of the NBC medical procedural series New Amsterdam .

<i>Little Dorrit</i> (TV series) television series

Little Dorrit is a 2008 British miniseries based on Charles Dickens’s serial novel of the same title, originally published between 1855 and 1857. The screenplay is by Andrew Davies and the episodes were directed by Adam Smith, Dearbhla Walsh, and Diarmuid Lawrence.

<i>Law & Order: UK</i> UK version of the legal/police procedural series (2009-2014)

Law & Order: UK is a British police procedural and legal television programme broadcast from 2009–14 on ITV, adapted from the American series Law & Order. Financed by the production companies Kudos Film and Television, Wolf Films, and Universal Media Studios, the series originally starred Bradley Walsh, Freema Agyeman, Jamie Bamber and Ben Daniels, with lead actors Dominic Rowan, Georgia Taylor, Paul Nicholls and Ben Bailey Smith joining the cast subsequently, alongside supporting cast members Harriet Walter, Sharon Small, Peter Davison, Bill Paterson and Paterson Joseph. This is the first American drama television series to be adapted for British television, while the episodes are adapted from scripts and episodes of the parent series.

The CW American broadcast television network

The CW Television Network is an American English-language free-to-air television network that is operated by the CW Network, LLC, a limited liability joint venture between CBS Corporation, the former owners of United Paramount Network (UPN); and AT&T, whose WarnerMedia subsidiary is the parent company of Warner Bros., former majority owner of The WB. The network's name is an abbreviation derived from the first letters of the names of its two parent corporations.

Early life

Agyeman was born in London. Her mother, Azar, is Iranian, and her father, Osei, is Ghanaian. They divorced when she was little. Agyeman has an older sister, Leila, and a younger brother, Dominic. [3] Although her mother was raised Muslim and her father was raised Methodist, Agyeman grew up to be a practising Roman Catholic. [4] Agyeman attended Our Lady's Convent RC High School, a Catholic school in Stamford Hill and during the summer of 1996 she studied at the Anna Scher Theatre School in Islington and studied performing arts and drama at Middlesex University, graduating in 2000. [3]

Methodism Group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity

Methodism, also known as the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their inspiration from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley were also significant early leaders in the movement. It originated as a revival movement within the 18th-century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley's death. The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond because of vigorous missionary work, today claiming approximately 80 million adherents worldwide.

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Catholic schools are parochial schools or education ministries of the Roman Catholic Church. As of 2011, the Church operates the world's largest non-governmental school system. In 2016, the church supported 43,800 secondary schools, and 95,200 primary schools. Catholic schools participate in the evangelizing mission of the Church, integrating religious education as a core subject within their curriculum.


Agyeman pictured at the press launch of the third series of Doctor Who in March 2007. Freema Agyeman 2007.jpg
Agyeman pictured at the press launch of the third series of Doctor Who in March 2007.

Early work

When Agyeman began her professional acting career, she chose to use a different spelling of her birth name, Frema, as her professional name, to avoid pronunciation problems. [5]

Before securing the part of Martha Jones, Agyeman's most famous television role was playing Lola Wise in the revived series of ITV soap opera Crossroads . She also had small guest roles in other TV series such as Casualty , Mile High and The Bill , in which she appeared on two occasions as two separate characters. In 2005, Agyeman played Mary Ogden, a scene of crime officer, in an episode of Silent Witness .

ITV (TV network) TV network in the United Kingdom

ITV is a British free-to-air television network with its headquarters in London, it was launched in 1955 as Independent Television under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to BBC Television, that was established in 1932. ITV is also the oldest commercial network in the UK. Since the passing of the Broadcasting Act 1990, its legal name has been Channel 3, to distinguish it from the other analogue channels at the time, namely BBC 1, BBC 2 and Channel 4. In part, the number 3 was assigned because television sets would usually be tuned so that the regional ITV station would be on the third button, with the other stations being allocated to the number within their name.

A soap opera is an ongoing drama serial on television or radio, featuring the lives of many characters and their emotional relationships. The term soap opera originated from radio dramas being sponsored by soap manufacturers.

<i>Crossroads</i> (UK TV series) British soap opera

Crossroads is a British television soap opera that ran on ITV over two periods – the original 1964 to 1988 run, followed by a short revival from 2001 to 2003. Set in a fictional motel in the Midlands, Crossroads became a byword for cheap production values, particularly in the 1970s and early 1980s. Despite this, the series regularly attracted huge audiences during this time, with ratings as high as 15 million viewers.

Agyeman starred as Nana in the independent film Rulers and Dealers, written and directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson. [6]

Doctor Who (2006–2010)

Agyeman auditioned for three roles in the 2006 series of Doctor Who. On 24 June 2005, she auditioned for the part of Sally Jacobs in "The Christmas Invasion", but the role went to Anita Briem, who better fitted the production team's concept of the character as an "ice cool blonde". [7] Agyeman later auditioned for the roles of Esme and Adeola Oshodi, in the "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" and "Army of Ghosts", respectively. Esme was ultimately cut from the final script, [8] but Agyeman was successful in her audition for Adeola. She filmed her role in the series in December 2005[ citation needed ] and appeared on screen as Adeola on 1 July 2006. Agyeman studied dance and practiced horseback riding, martial arts and gymnastics, a fact that the producers exploited in order to provide her with more physically arduous action scenes. [9]

"When we cast the character of Adeola, I met Freema [Agyeman] for this part—actually, I met her for two parts—and when I met her, as soon as she walked through the door, I knew she was going to be quite exceptional. When she walked in, I thought I was looking at Halle Berry English-style..."

Graeme Harper [10]

The production team were impressed by the versatility shown by Agyeman across her three auditions and called her back as a serious candidate for the new companion. She attended another audition (ostensibly for an episode of Torchwood) [7] before a final screen-test with Tenth Doctor actor, David Tennant. Tennant left a reassuring note under the door of Agyeman's hotel room, and this helped calm any nerves the actress had. [11] Following extensive speculation on who would replace Billie Piper, Agyeman was confirmed to the press as new companion Martha Jones on 5 July 2006. [12]

"I'd like to think that there will be more for Martha Jones, because Doctor Who has been one of the biggest experiences of my life, both in terms of my career and in terms of how it has changed my life over the last two years. I dare say a great number of people will always associate me with Martha, and that really makes me smile. It means that she lives on. That's so flattering. It's an honour. I'd love to do more with her, definitely..."

—Freema Agyeman, July 2008 [13]

Agyeman began filming for the third series in August 2006 and finished in March 2007. She made her screen debut as Martha on 31 March 2007 in the episode "Smith and Jones". [14] A line of dialogue explains that Adeola was Martha's cousin. Agyeman continued to portray the character Martha throughout every episode of the 2007 series. Agyeman returned as Martha in series 4 for five episodes. Following the final episode of the fourth series, Agyeman stated that she would be open to reprising the role. [13] She later returned to the series along with several other former cast members to mark David Tennant's final appearance in The End of Time . Concurrent with her appearance on the show, Agyeman read abridged audiobook adaptations of five of the Doctor Who New Series Adventures novels featuring Martha, namely The Last Dodo , [15] Wetworld , [16] The Pirate Loop , [17] Martha in the Mirror [18] and The Story of Martha . [19]

In between series three and series four of Doctor Who, Agyeman appeared in three episodes of series 2 of Doctor Who spin off Torchwood , [20] namely "Reset", "Dead Man Walking" and "A Day in the Death". She also had a starring role in the Torchwood radio play, Lost Souls , broadcast on BBC Radio Four on 10 September 2008 to promote the turning on of the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN research facility. [21] It was later revealed by Torchwood: Children of Earth director Euros Lyn that the production team had intended for Agyeman to appear in that production, but she was already committed to Law & Order: UK . [22] In a video interview conducted at the Law and Order: UK press launch, Agyeman does not rule out a return to Torchwood, stating that "it's always a possibility." [23] Torchwood creator and head writer Russell T. Davies, also responsible for Doctor Who, subsequently affirmed that he would be open to casting Agyeman in a future series of Torchwood. [24]


Agyeman appeared several times on The Bedtime Hour on CBeebies reading the story broadcast shortly before 7.00pm. She narrated the first series of BBC Three's hospital documentary series Bizarre ER which ran from 14 February 2008 [25] to 3 April 2008 and [26] also provided the narration for a second series which began airing on Tuesday 21 April 2009. [27] Agyeman hosted a Doctor Who-themed portion of the BBC Proms on 27 July. [28] A one-hour cut-down version of the prom made its TV début on BBC1, New Year's Day, 2009.

Agyeman played foundling girl Tattycoram in the Emmy Award winning 2008 BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit , which began on 26 October 2008, starring alongside her fellow Torchwood stars Eve Myles and Ruth Jones. [29] Some of Agyeman's scenes for the first episode were shot in the grounds of Deal Castle, Kent, which doubled for Marseille, France. [30] Agyeman was delighted to have appeared in Little Dorrit, as it had always been a dream of hers to appear in a period drama. [31] In 2008 Agyeman also appeared in Survivors , a BBC 1 remake of the cult 1970s TV series, as Jenny Walsh (surname originally reported to be Collins), although her character was killed off in the first episode in a shock twist despite featuring prominently in promotional materials for the series. [32] [33] Between 2009 and 2012, Agyeman starred as Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips in Law & Order: UK , a UK adaptation and spin-off from the US Law & Order franchise. [34] Agyeman is a self-professed "massive fan" of the original Law & Order series, especially Seasons 3 and 4. In preparation for the role, Agyeman sat in on live trials, toured the Old Bailey, and conferred with her law-degree holding sister, Leila: "She's great and really patient at explaining things to laymen, because I was coming at it completely blind. She's been a good source." [35] She remained with the programme for its first six series departing the cast before the seventh series due to other filming commitments. [36]

In March 2012, it was announced that Agyeman would play Larissa, "an easy-going party girl who works at Interview magazine" in the pilot of Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries . [37] In early 2013, she starred in the Cbeebies television series Old Jack's Boat as Shelley. [38]

Agyeman appears in the Netflix series Sense8 , released in June 2015, created by J. Michael Straczynski and Lilly and Lana Wachowski. She is a series regular and plays Amanita, the girlfriend of Nomi, a sensate. [39] [40]

In 2018, Freema became a member of the cast of the NBC medical procedural series New Amsterdam , playing the role of Dr. Helen Sharpe.

Awards and recognition

In June 2007, Agyeman was named "Best Newcomer" at the 2007 "Glamour Women of the Year Awards". [41] The same year she won the 2007 People's Choice category for "Female TV Star" in the 5th annual Screen Nation Film and TV Awards, held on 15 October 2007 at the Hilton Metropole in London. [42]

The Observer had an interview with Agyeman in December 2007 and named her as a "face of 2007". [43]


In 2003, Agyeman was nominated in two categories in the British Soap Awards for her role as Lola Wise in Crossroads, as "Best Newcomer" and "Sexiest Female". [44]

In 2007, Agyeman was one of the top four nominations for best actress in the National Television Awards, for playing Martha Jones in the 2007 series of Doctor Who. She was also nominated for Best Actress in the TV Quick Awards the same year for her role in Doctor Who. [45]

Agyeman was also longlisted for the 2010 National Television Awards for best dramatic performance for her role as Crown Prosecutor, Alesha Phillips.

In 2009, Agyeman was also nominated for Best Actress at the Birmingham Black International Film Festival's Music, Video and Screen Awards (MVSAs). [46]

In 2016, Agyeman was also nominated for "Female Performance in a Film" at the Screen Nation Film and TV Awards for her performance in North v South [47] and for the "Female Performance in TV" Award for her performance in Sense8 [47]

Personal life

The tattoo Agyeman has on her upper arm is symbolic of her ancestry, containing the Persian word "raha", meaning "free", under an image of a butterfly. [48]

Agyeman is a Catholic. [49]



2004Aisha the AmericanShaheenShort film
2006Rulers and DealersNana
2015North v SouthPenny
2016Eat LocalAngel


2003 Crossroads Lola WiseUnknown episodes
2004 The Bill Jenna CarterEpisode: "Episode 232"
2004 Casualty@Holby City Kate HindleyEpisode: "Casualty@Holby City: Part One"
2005 Mile High Girl #1Series 2, episode 26
2005 Silent Witness Mary OgdenEpisode: "Choices: Part 1"
2006The BillShakira Washington2 episodes
2006 Doctor Who Adeola Oshodi Episode: "Army of Ghosts"
2007–2008, 2010 Martha Jones Series 3, Series 4, 2008–10 specials
2007–2008 Doctor Who Confidential HerselfRecurring role
2007 Totally Doctor Who Herself7 episodes
2007 The Infinite Quest Martha Jones (voice)13 episodes
2007 The Omid Djalili Show HerselfSeries 1, episode 3
2008 Torchwood Martha Jones3 episodes
2008–2010 Bizarre ER HerselfNarrator (series 1–3); 30 episodes
2008 Torchwood Declassified Herself2 episodes
2008 Little Dorrit TattycoramMiniseries; 8 episodes
2008 Survivors Jenny Walsh2 episodes
2009–2012 Law & Order: UK Alesha PhillipsMain cast (series 1–6); 39 episodes
2013–2015 The Carrie Diaries Larissa LoughlinMain cast; 22 episodes
2013-2015 Old Jack's Boat Shelly PeriwinkleMain cast (series 1); 12 episodes
2013RubenesqueTrudyOne-off drama
2015–2018 Sense8 Amanita CaplanMain cast
2017 Panorama NarratorEpisode: "When Kids Abuse Kids"
2018–present New Amsterdam Dr. Helen SharpeMain cast

Audio and radio

2007 The Last Dodo NarratorDoctor Who audiobook
2007 Wetworld NarratorDoctor Who audiobook
2007 The Pirate Loop NarratorDoctor Who audiobook
2008 Martha in the Mirror NarratorDoctor Who audiobook
2008 Lost Souls Martha JonesFull cast audio drama
2008 The Story of Martha NarratorDoctor Who audiobook
2014Six Degrees of Assassination: An Audible DramaEllen Townsend


2001–2002When Snow Falls [50] TBy Chris Elwell
2001Twisted Roots [51] [52] Anya StarrBy Emily Nightingale
2002Lords and Ladies [53] Various rolesOriginally by Terry Pratchett
2008 Doctor Who Prom HostMusical celebration, 27 July 2008
2017Apologia [54] ClaireBy Alexi Kaye Campbell

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