Fans are eagerly awaiting Peter Capaldi’s last series as the Doctor, which premieres on April 15th. One notable factor for the 53-year-old show is new companion Bill, played by Pearl Mackie. In a recent interview with the BBC, the actress confirmed that her character is to be the first openly gay Doctor Who companion, casually dropping, “Yeah, Bill’s gay. It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st century. It’s about time isn’t it?” into the interview.
She’s absolutely right. Then again, Doctor Who has never really been a stranger to gay characters – or even openly gay companions. John Barrowman’s omnisexual space lothario Captain Jack Harkness was famously up for shagging anything that moved (and a couple of things that didn’t), and Alex Kingston’s recurring character River Song was bisexual. But then again, though those characters travel with the Doctor, they’re not strictly companions (naturally, Whovians debate this viciously).
In addition, it’s long been rumored that Adric, companion to the fourth and fifth Doctors was in the closet. This might be borne out by Big Finish audio drama A Full Life in which he dodges death (he heroically sacrificed himself trying to stop the dinosaurs going extinct, go figure) and goes on to live a life in which he engages in a relationship with a man.
Despite all that, Bill will be the Doctor’s first openly gay companion. According to Mackie, her sexuality will be revealed “pretty much straightaway, in her second line of dialogue.”
“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 recognize yourself on screen is important. “[But 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.”
Series 10 (or series 36 depending on how you count it) of Doctor Who airs at 9pm on April 15th.