Comedy star Aisling Bea leaps into the TARDIS to help save the world in Eve of the Daleks. With her winning this year’s BAFTA Breakthrough Award for her series This Way Up, Blogtor Who runs down his career so far
Doctor Who’s festive specials since 2005 have often aimed to increase the star power on screen with some well known faces. Since such specials often taking a breezier tone than the average episode these names often come from a comic background. In the tradition of Catherine Tate, Claire Skinner, Nick Frost, and Matt Lucas, Eve of the Daleks’ main guest star is Aisling Bea as Sarah. Sarah is the owner of ELF Storage who finds something nasty in one of the units on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately the Doctor and co are on hand to save the day. But before that let’s look back at her enviable career in both drama and comedy.
Irish actor and comedian Aisling Bea comes from Kildare, and originally studied French and Philosophy at the prestigious Trinity College – Ireland’s equivalent to Oxbridge. It was while involved in the student comedy groups there that she discovered her love of acting and new career. A move to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) followed. Early roles include RTÉ’s urban soap opera Fair City, and guest starring on other Irish shows like Roy (a mockumentary about a cartoon boy struggling for acceptance in a live action world), and sketch show The Savage Eye.
Bea has shown an ability to slip effortlessly between farcical comedy like Come Fly with Me, sitcoms like Trollied, and hard hitting drama like The Fall
Increasingly Bea began to split her time between Ireland and the UK. Guest roles on the likes of Holby City, Inspector Lewis and Matt Lucas and David Walliam’s Come Fly with Me followed. But her progression up cast lists was swift, and soon she was a regular fixture of both drama and comedy series. She was regulars in shows that ran the entire spectrum. There was comedy with sketch shows like Cardinal Burns and Fit, sitcoms like fellow Irishwoman Sharon Horgan’s prison set Dead Boss, midwife based Delivery Man and supermarket set Trollied. But there was also comedy dramas like Trivia, about a pub quiz team, and harder edged material like crime dramas The Town and The Fall.
Last year she also took a supporting role as Claudia Rosencrantz, one of the pivotal figures behind Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in ‘coughing major’ drama Quiz alongside Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant. Eve of the Daleks also isn’t her first time appearing alongside Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker, having appeared in the Whittaker-starring CIA drama The Assets.
But in recent years more and more of Aisling Bea’s roles have seen her move out of supporting roles and take centre stage. In 2019’s Netflix comedy drama Living With Yourself, she took one of the lead roles as Kate, alongside Paul Rudd and Paul Rudd as her husband and the clone of himself he’s commissioned by accident. But it’s This Way Up, which Bea both writes and stars in that has just seen her named a Breakthrough Talent by BAFTA. The comedy drama stars Bea as Áine, and reunites her with Sharon Horgan as her sister. Áine is a woman rebuilding her life after a nervous breakdown, and she attempts to find love, happiness, and a life purpose across two series.
Aisling Bea’s also one of Ireland’s most popular stand up comedy exports, and a regular presence on the UK’s panel show circuit
Remarkably, all this represents just one half of Bea’s career. She’s also a stand up comic who’s been selling out gigs for over a decade. This aspect of her work has seen her appear on shows like Live from the Apollo and the Netflix Comedy Lineup. It’s also made her a regular feature of panel shows like QI, The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, and 8 Out of 10 Cats Do Countdown, while she was one of the Series 5 contestants on Taskmaster.
Aisling Bea can also be seen this Christmas is festive quasi-remake Home Sweet Home Alone. But considering the reviews of that, you might be just as well sticking to Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks.
Doctor Who will return on New Year’s Day with Eve of the Daleks
Sarah (Aisling Bea) owns and runs ELF storage, and Nick (Adjani Salmon) is a customer who visits his unit every year on New Year’s Eve. This year, however, their night turns out to be a little different than planned as they find themselves joining forces with the Doctor, Dan and Yaz in a fight against the Daleks.