Playing the part of Samantha Bloom, Gugu (short for Gugulethu, meaning "Our Pride") Mbatha-Raw was born in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, in 1983 to South African doctor Patrick Mbatha and his wife, nurse Anne Raw. Her parents separated when she was a year old, though she is still close to her father, and she was brought up by her mother in the town of Witney, Oxfordshire. Here she joined the local acting group Dramascope and, from the age of eleven, appeared in the pantomime at Oxford Playhouse every year. A talented singer and dancer as well as playing the saxophone, she joined the Oxford Youth Music Theatre in her teens. In 2001 she won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Since graduation in 2004 she has appeared in all media, including as an acclaimed Juliet in 'Romeo and Juliet' at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre and on television in such varied series as 'Bad Girls', 'Marple' and was a recurring cast member in season 3 of 'Doctor Who' as Tish Jones.