Doctor Who actor Pearl Mackie confirms new character is first openly gay companion

Jacob Stolworthy

New Doctor Who companion Pearl Mackie has confirmed that her character Bill Potts will be openly gay in the beloved BBC series.

Mackie confirmed the news, telling the channel: “It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century. It’s about time, isn’t it?”

“It’s important to say people are gay, people are black,” she continued, stating that “representation is important, especially on a mainstream show”.

“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,” she added.

London-born Mackie wanted to make it clear that Bill’s sexuality isn’t what mainly defines her character but that it’s a groundbreaking move for the long-running sci-fi series.

“[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.”

Bill is the show’s first LGBTQ companion. Gay and bisexual characters have featured as part of the series before – Torchwood character Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and River Song (Alex Kingston), but they aren’t considered one of the Doctor’s full-time sidekicks.

Peter Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat will be bowing out after this years’ Doctor Who Christmas special after deciding to call time on his Time Lord tenure last year.

Doctor Who returns to BBC One on 15 April.