Since Jenna Coleman left Doctor Who at the end of series 9, we’ve all been on pins and needles (sonic screwdrivers and Dalek eyestalks? Is that something?) waiting to find out who will be joining Peter Capaldi‘s Twelfth Doctor in the TARDIS for series 10, and possibly beyond. On Saturday, at halftime of the very widely watched FA Cup finale, the BBC ended our months of speculation by telling us who the new Companion is…
Pearl Mackie! The BBC shot a special scene between the Twelfth Doctor and his new companion that aired after 10 agonizing minutes of old geezers talking about soccer. In it, the Doctor and Bill–her name’s Bill, folks–run afoul of some Daleks and have to run through a corridor to get away. It’s funny, and it shows Bill will apparently be a fun-loving yet incredulous type of companion.
If you’re wondering who Pearl Mackie is, it’s because she’s a newcomer, with only a couple of credits on screen to her name, but several plays in the London theatre scene. She is currently performing in the National Theatre’s West End production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
“I’m incredibly excited to be joining the Doctor Who family,” Mackie said in her official statement. “It’s such an extraordinary British institution, I couldn’t be prouder to call the TARDIS my home.”
“Reading the script at the audition I thought Bill was wicked,” she added. “Fantastically written, cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in – I can’t wait to bring her to life, and to see how she develops through the series.”
Capaldi said: “It is a genuine delight to welcome Pearl Mackie to Doctor Who. A fine, fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm, she’s a refreshing addition to the Tardis and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to the Doctor’s adventures.”
The casting of Mackie is actually a fairly monumental one. She becomes only the second full-time companion to be a person of color since Freema Agyeman played Martha Jones beginning in series 3. She’s also just the third person of color period, if we’re counting Noel Clarke’s Mickey Smith, who briefly traveled with the Tenth Doctor for an arc in series two.
For a show that has, at least since its 2005 return, strove to be a progressive and inclusive series, it has a pretty poor history of casting outside the typical white British standard. However, with more and more fans calling for diversity in the TARDIS–a woman and/or not-white Doctor is not far away, I’m sure of it–it’s nice to see the makers of the show are thinking a little more 51st Century about things.
I for one am very happy about this casting. I can’t wait for 2017 when we finally get to see Capaldi and a new companion take to the skies for Steven Moffat’s final year at the helm. Whether Capaldi continues on thereafter is up to him, but here’s hoping!
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Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor and the resident Whovian for Nerdist. Follow him on Twitter!