Beloved British television show Doctor Who, though it has spawned a rabid fandom akin to Harry Potter, is not necessarily known for its diversity. For example, so far, all twelve reincarnated doctors have been played by white, male actors – including the current doctor, Peter Capaldi. But, since Capaldi announced he’ll be leaving the show, there is more opportunity for unorthodox casting choices.
And it looks like Doctor Who has already taken a step in the right direction with its first openly gay companion.
Actress Pearl Mackie will play Bill Potts in the upcoming season of Doctor Who, which debuts April 15. WE ARE PUMPED.
This is Mackie’s biggest role to date. And Mackie has already told the BBC how important she thinks it is to have an openly gay character as a companion.
She explained, “It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century. It’s about time isn’t it? 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.
She said, “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.”
And though Doctor Who has featured LGBTQ characters before (like River Song and Captain Jack Harkness), Mackie wants to make sure sexuality is not the focal point of her character.
She said, “[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.”
Even though LGBTQ characters are on TV more than ever, it’s still common for showrunners to pigeonhole gay people.
It’s so crucial that representation is more than tokenizing marginalized people. LGBTQ people are more than just the acronym.
So here’s to hoping Doctor Who gets it right. If Mackie is any indication, we think they’re definitely on the right track.