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The life and time travels of Dr Who's sexy new assistant

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With chaperone Maureen, right, and costar Michelle Crane, above in Summer Holiday AS Doctor Who's sexy new sidekick, Jenna- Louise Coleman must prepare for a bumpy ride when she steps into the Tardis - but it is one she is more than ready for.

Because in real life, the 26-year-old, who lit up the new series of the BBC sci-fi hit, has endured cruel bullies, weight issues and watched her parents declared bankrupt.

But the brunette beauty is made of stern stuff - and has based plucky Clara Oswald on herself.

She reveals: "Clara looks a little bit cutesy but she's got biker boots on.

"She's the kind of girl who sits in a library reading but she's actually quite a go-getter, action fighter. She'll take you by surprise." For those who know her best, like Maureen Vidoretti, who was her chaperone as a youngster, it is a soldier-on attitude they know all too well with Jenna.

Maureen, 59, recalls: "Jenna was very cool. Things would fall down on stage but she just carried on. Nothing fazed her especially when things went wrong."

She also remembered what a "bubbly girl" Jenna was, as can be seen in our exclusive pictures of the star aged 10 playing in her dressing room before going on stage at the Opera House Theatre in her home town of Blackpool to perform in Summer Holiday with Darren Day.

Last Saturday, six million viewers watched her play flirtatious Clara alongside her new main man Matt Smith.

But behind the perky performance lies family heartache which has toughened up Jenna.

Determined to become an actress she was a keen student at dancing and acting schools in Blackpool and excelled academically. She became head girl at Arnold School, but with her good looks and A- grades came catty resentment from classmates.

Fellow pupil Sarah Williamson, 26, says: "She was always very pretty and some of the girls called her 'Little Miss Perfect' as she was head girl. But I always found her really nice.

"However there were some bitchy comments when she put on a bit of weight once. Some loved that and started calling her 'Miss Piggy'."

Jenna herself has admitted her weight ballooned from a size eight to 12 at the time. She said: "During exams, I was stuck at a desk and couldn't do any dancing. My shape really changed. I didn't like it - I just didn't feel like me." She overcame her diet demons and bullies but was faced with an entirely different challenge six months ago when her mum and dad, battling a crippling recession, were declared bankrupt.

Unfortunately, it is not the first time Keith and Karen Coleman, both 49, have found themselves in the midst of a financial nightmare. In 2007, their family business Coleman Interiors Ltd was shut down with debts of just over Pounds 250,500.

In 2009, dad Keith set up new firm Coleman & Son Shopfitting Ltd with son Ben, now 29. Keith resigned his directorship on October 2 last year - the same day he and wife Karen were declared bankrupt. Their five-bedroom home in a leafy part of Blackpool, which is on the market for a reduced price, now lies empty and boarded up after a break-in.

Metal pipes were stolen in the raid last year, which led to substantial water damage. A man, 25, will stand trial next month for two counts of burglary.

The Colemans' neighbour says: "They just disappeared overnight. It's really sad - Keith and Karen were so happy after their son gave them a grandchild."

But friends insist "auntie" Jenna will help her family through the misfortune. Maureen says the Colemans have always been a close, strong unit adding: "Her parents are lovely - they weren't pushy. They just wanted Jenna to have a good time."

Her career success has always been a ray of sunshine for the family. But, again, she had to battle her way to the top after struggling to get into drama school which forced her to get a job as a barmaid.

However, in 2005 she auditioned for Emmerdale and won the part of teenage lesbian Jasmine Thomas. She was involved in a host of shocking plots, which included having two affairs and an abortion before exiting the ITV1 soap when she was jailed for killing Shane Doyle with a chair leg.

Jenna dated Dales co-star Karl Davies, 30, who played Robert Sugden, for three years. She is now seeing Game of Thrones actor Richard Madden, a pal of Matt Smith's, whom she met two years ago on the set of ITV1's Titanic.

After Emmerdale came a part in the BBC drama Waterloo Road followed by a small role in blockbuster movie Captain America. She also starred in Room at the Top and Dancing on the Edge before Doctor Who came calling.

Her gran Marion Coleman, who named Jenna after Priscilla Presley's character in Dallas, says: "Jenna is going to be great in Doctor Who. Acting is all she ever wanted to do. She started singing and dancing aged two and did little routines in the front room for us.

"Mind you, she was scared of ghosts and monsters as a little girl."

Now, as the Time Lord's strong companion, it is the turn of the monsters to be scared of her.

Things would fall down on stage but she just carried on. She wasn't fazed YOUNG JENNA'S CHAPERONE killing a chair Jenna


Caption: Star Jenna with her mum Karen; HEROIC J Captain America

BARNSTORMER J As Dale's Jasmine COOL FOR SCHOOL Jenna in Waterloo

Road MAID IT J Titanic role; COUPLE J With actor boyfriend Richard Madden

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