“I think representation is really important for people in areas that might not be as open-minded,” says Pearl Mackie about playing Bill Potts in “Doctor Who,” which is currently airing on Saturday nights on BBC America. Bill is the first openly gay companion in the half-century history of the British sci-fi series. Regarding the fans’ response, she adds, “I was lucky enough to grow up in South London, which is very diverse … but a lot of people aren’t from backgrounds that are as open-minded … I think it’s a great thing to allow people to identify with her.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Mackie above.
Bill’s curiosity intrigued the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) when she attended his classes — even though she wasn’t even enrolled. The 2,000-year-old time traveler has been teaching in a university while guarding a mysterious vault underneath the campus, and he took her on as a tutor through space and time, “sort of an ‘Educating Rita’ kind of vibe, but for the modern day,” Mackie describes.
The Doctor and Bill’s adventures so far this season have run the gamut from the future to the past, from the Earth to the depths of space. And most recently a threat to the entire planet has led to the possible enslavement of the human race. “I love the journey of going from quite raw emotion to something quite funny … It’s lovely for me as an actress to be able to explore all those emotions within one character in the parameters of one program,” says Mackie. “There are a lot more very exciting adventures to come, and Bill is definitely a very big part of those, so read into that what you will.”
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