When "Doctor Who" returns in April, the Time Lord will bring with him companion in the form of Pearl Mackie. While we don't know much about her character, Bill Potts, outside of what has been revealed in the Season 10 trailer, the BBC has now confirmed she will be first openly gay companion in the show's long history.
"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," Mackie told BBC News. "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."
"[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," she said. "It shouldn't be a big deal in the 21st Century. It's about time isn't it?"
What's likely to vex "Who" fans far more than Bill's sexuality is the question of whether the BBC is right to refer to her as the first openly gay companion: Recurring characters Captain Jack Harkness and River Song, played by John Barrowman and Alex Kingston, respectively, were both openly bisexual, but do they count as companions? Apparently not, according to the BBC.
The actor has already described fan response to her as being "kind of insane," adding, "It's been really nice, everyone seems to be really excited. It's sort of like being welcomed into a family and all the fans have been really welcoming."
Starring Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts and Matt Lucas as Nardole, “Doctor Who” returns to BBC One and BBC America on Saturday, April 15.