Behind some great Time Lords there’s a great gay sidekick.
When Doctor Who returns April 15 to BBC One and BBC America for season 10, the British sci-fi series will welcome a gay companion for the Doctor. This marks the time-traveling extraterrestrial’s first openly gay companion since the iconic show’s 1963 premiere and its 2005 reboot.
Pearl Mackie will play the companion, Bill Potts, opposite Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. Mackie takes over the companion role from Jenna Coleman, who left the show to star as Queen Victoria in Victoria.
Bill’s sexuality will reportedly be revealed in her second line of dialogue in the season premiere, but Mackie tells BBC News that being gay “is not the main thing that defines her character—it’s something that’s part of her and something that she’s very happy and very comfortable with.”
“It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century,” Mackie adds. “It’s about time isn’t it?”
Mackie does, however, see the need for LGBT representation on a mainstream series like Doctor Who. “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,” she continues. “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 recognize yourself on screen is important.”
Fans may note that the omnisexual Captain Jack, played by gay actor John Barrowman, did travel with the Doctor but was not technically his full-time companion—nor, apparently, was bisexual character River Song, played Alex Kingston.
The April 15 Doctor Who premiere will be followed by the season premiere of the Doctor Who spinoff series Class, which also features a major gay character.