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In a recent interview with Newsweek, Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi has commented on the need for diversity within the program:
“The thing about Doctor Who is, it’s at its best when it reflects the culture and the times that it’s in. Because it’s a very successful show, sometimes it just digs its own groove of success, and I think it’s time for us to be more recognizable as being in the 21st century.”
Capaldi went on to state that candidates from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds have auditioned for the role of the Doctor’s new companion, replacing previous companion Jenna Coleman. It’s recently been indicated by Capaldi in other interviews that the new companion has been cast – and RadioTimes has a suggestion.
Ex-Eastenders actress Rakhee Thakrar, known for playing Shabnam Masood, is rumoured to be a frontrunner on the current casting shortlist. Thakrar would be the first companion of an ethnic minority since Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones in 2007 (depending on, of course, whether you consider Samuel Anderson’s Danny Pink to count as a companion).
Though Thakrar’s casting would not necessitate a Muslim companion (obviously; it’d be like saying casting Peter Capaldi necessitates a politician Doctor) the fact that she has gained much acclaim for playing a Muslim character may indicate this is a possibility. Capaldi did recently state that “it could easily be” time to see a Muslim companion.
Personally speaking, I think this is great news; though I’ve never seen Thakrar on Eastenders, some cursory research shows that her performance was met with great acclaim, and she’s a very talented actress. It’s also wonderful to hear that Doctor Who is committed to portraying a diverse range of characters.