The internationally-acclaimed sci-fi series Doctor Who comes back on April 15. The Doctor will have a new companion, Bill Potts — and she’s gay! And don’t worry about the show beating around the bush about it — she comes out in her second line of dialogue.
Bill is played by Pearl Mackie, an actress, dancer and singer. Most of her career has been in the theater — she’s had roles in The Comedy of Errors, A Mad World, My Master and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Ironically, her only other major television role was in a soap opera named Doctors. (Hopefully, this doesn’t mean that Mackie’s typecast to only appear in shows with “doctor” in the title.)
“It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century. It’s about time isn’t it?” Mackie told the BBC. She added:
Representation is important, especially on a mainstream show. It’s important to say people are gay, people are black – there are also aliens in the world as well so watch out for them.
I remember watching TV as a young mixed race girl not seeing many people who looked like me, so I think being able to visually recognise yourself on screen is important.
Thankfully, Mackie says it’s been a warm reception. “My Twitter follower count went from 400-and-something to 16,500 in about two hours, so that was pretty mental. But it’s been really nice, everyone seems to be really excited.. All the fans have been really welcoming.”
Doctor Who has always been an inclusive show, and she’s far from the first LGBTQ character on the show. Captain Jack Harkness and River Song are both queer characters and fan favorites.
The show is queer behind the scenes as well. The relaunch of Doctor Who in 2005 was led by Russell T Davies, the openly gay creator of Queer as Folk, Cucumber and Banana. Similarly, the new season features Matt Lucas’s character Nardole more prominently — you might remember Matt Lucas as the Little Britain character Daffyd Thomas, the only gay in the village. (Lucas is gay in real life as well.)
In the debut episode of the new season, Bill Potts, Nardole and the Doctor fight the Daleks. We’re sure the trio will ably handle the shopping cart-esque monsters.