Doctor Who is finally returning to television on April 15th, and between a thrilling new trailer and the anticipation that comes with a new companion joining the Doctor in the Tardis, excitement is reaching a fever pitch. However, the BBC announced on Friday that there is yet another exciting development this season: Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) will be the first openly gay full-time companion.
“It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century. It’s about time isn’t it?” Mackie told the BBC. “That representation is important, especially on a mainstream show. 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 recognise yourself on screen is important.”
While Doctor Who has featured important queer characters before, like Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and River Song (Alex Kingston), their sexuality was often their main characteristic and lead to some stereotypical representation. However, things will be a little different for Bill.
“[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.”
Realistic representation of LGBTQIA characters in popular culture can be really helpful and important, so this is a great step for the show. Doctor Who has been criticized fora lack of diversity in the past, so this is definitely a welcome change.