Nadia Albina joins the extended Doctor Who Fam as Diane Curtis in The Halloween Apocalypse. But who is Diane to Dan? And who is the actor and advocate who plays her?
The Halloween Apocalypse introduces John Bishop’s Dan Lewis as the new companion. But like all companions of the modern era, he’s no conveniently star-shipwrecked orphan or rootless traveller. He comes from somewhere, with a life he’s torn from, and which he must then balance with his life on the TARDIS. So the premiere of Flux tonight also introduces Dan’s own supporting cast. Dan’s circle of friends seems centered around the National Museum of Liverpool, but there’s one woman who stands out. We know from trailers and publicity photos that Nadia Albina appears in several scenes as Diane Curtis. And there’s even a hint that she’ll appear in multiple episodes of the six-part epic. Could she be Dan’s love interest? Could she even be part of his motivation for involving himself in the Doctor’s world? And what about the actor that plays this potentially significant role? Who is Nadia Albina?
Nadia Albina is Vice Chair of the Act for Change project, dedicated to advancing diversity in productions
Albina decided on acting as her future profession at a young age, studying at LAMDA. There she was warned that her disability, having no right hand or forearm since birth, would limit her choice of roles. Yet she only became more determined to show that advice wrong. Across her career, Albina has embraced both sides of the casting challenge for disabled actors. She’s advocated not just for more roles that relate to the experience of this large cross-section of British life, but also for a greater appreciation by casting directors that an actor’s disability can be completely incidental to the character they’re playing. It’s this advocacy that led to her becoming Vice Chair of the Act for Change project. The project is a lobby group devoting itself to increasing diversity in acting roles, whether in race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.
From Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams, Albina has had a powerful career on stage, including several roles originally written for men
Nadia Albina’s own choice of roles over the years have reflected those same principles. On stage, her extensive CV includes working with the Royal Shakespeare Company as Portia’s maid and co-conspirator Nerissa in The Merchant of Venice, and also as Desdemona’s father, the Duke of Venice, in Othello. There was more Shakespeare at the National Theatre. There she was in the same production of Macbeth that featured ‘lone Cyberman’ Patrick O’Kane as MacDuff. She’s also returned to the same plays for the iconic Globe Theatre, this time as Bianca in Othello and the Porter in Macbeth.
She was also in Mark Gatiss’ Madness of George III at the NT too, as the pragmatic Captain Fitzroy, who delivers perhaps the play’s most iconic line about kindness and kings, and where she shared the stage with Louise Jameson’s Dr. Warren and War of the Sontarans’ Sara Powell as Lady Pembroke. Meanwhile the Secret Theatre cast her in the iconic lead role of Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, where her visible disability (Albina personally eschews prosthetics as uncomfortable and uncomfortable) subtly reframed Blanche’s story even without changing a line of text.
Guest starring roles on television have included Doctors, Innocent, and The One
On television, she’s played roles that more directly address such issues. In daytime soap opera Doctors she was part of a three episode arc as a soldier who’s adjusting to losing her arm in an IED attack. And in Alan Davies’ comedy vehicle Whites, she plays the beleaguered chef’s date for a cringe inducing dinner. He stumbles through trying to find the right thing to say, hitting every ableist cliche on the way.
Nadia Albina may be one of the few Doctor Who actors who can honestly say it’s not the strangest job they’ve done (after all, she once played an apparition of the Virgin Mary come to bless a garden’s water feature). But this weekend still sees her take on an adventure like no other. And it’s not long now until we can enjoy the journey with her.
Doctor Who returns tonight with Flux: Chapter One – The Halloween Apocalypse on BBC One at 6.25pm and on BBC America at 2.25pm ET
On Halloween, all across the universe, terrifying forces are stirring. The life of Dan Lewis is about to change forever. Why is the Doctor chasing Karvanista? What is the Flux?