Since it returned to the airwaves in 2005, Doctor Who has never shied away from issues of sexual orientation. Now the show is taking things a step further, as it has been revealed that the Doctor’s new companion will be openly gay.
Bill Potts, played by actress Pearl Mackie, will join the show beginning with the Season 10 premiere.
She replaces Jenna Coleman, who spent three years as the mysterious companion, Clara Oswald.
In a new BBC interview, Mackie reveals that Bill is gay, and her sexual orientation will be clear to viewers from the very beginning of the episode.
“It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century. It’s about time isn’t it?” says Mackie.
In fact, several LGBT characters have spent time in the TARDIS over the past 12 years, but none of them were considered the “main” companion to the Doctor.
Most notably, actor John Barrowman played Captain Jack Harkness alongside the 9th and 10th Doctors. Barrowman is gay in real life, but Harkness was presented as something of an “omnisexual” — attracted to pretty much anything that moved.
It’s a role that Barrowman then played for four seasons on the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, a show that was even more open regarding sexuality and adult situations.
The Doctor’s wife, River Song, played by actress Alex Kingston in a recurring role, was also revealed to be bisexual.
Mackie’s first season on Doctor Who will also be star Peter Capaldi’s last. The actor behind the current 13th Doctor revealed earlier this year that he would depart the series when this season ends.
Current showrunner Steven Moffat is also leaving at the end of this season, to be replaced by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall. There’s no word yet on whether Mackie will be invited to stick around when the show resumes.
Season 10 of Doctor Who premieres April 15 on BBC One in the UK and BBC America in the US.