Doctor Who is renowned for its pairing of the Doctor and his companion, and since the departure of Clara Oswald (played by Jenna Coleman) at the end of season nine, the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, has been flying the TARDIS solo. Various rumors surrounding a new companion for the Doctor have surfaced and then, last month, Capaldi confirmed that the companion had been cast, and that he had been working with them already.
Just a few days ago, the BBC announced that it would be revealing the name of the companion on BBC1 during the half time break in the soccer match between Manchester United and Everton, and simultaneously revealing the name via all social media outlets so that Doctor Who fans across the globe could all find out at the same time.
The BBC has now announced that the name of the actor joining Capaldi in the TARDIS for season ten is Pearl Mackie, who will play the role of Bill.
Mackie is a relative newcomer, having previously only played small roles in music videos and BBC daytime soap, Doctors. She is currently part of the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which has received much critical acclaim. Capaldi went to watch the show on April 7, leading to the odds on Mackie becoming the new companion being slashed to make her the favorite.
The tardis stopped by the Gielgud Theatre this afternoon and look who came to watch the show...Mr Peter Capaldi! pic.twitter.com/KbOKV1qytk— Curious Incident (@curiousonstage) April 7, 2016
When asked previously about just what current showrunner Steven Moffat and the Doctor Who creative team were looking for from a new companion, Capaldi gave an emphatic, “Yes, definitely” when asked if the BBC was looking at actors from a diverse range of backgrounds, adding:
“The thing about Doctor Who is, it’s at its best when it reflects the culture and the times that it’s in. Because it’s a very successful show, sometimes it just digs its own groove of success, and I think it’s time for us to be more recognizable as being in the 21st century.”
Coleman’s character, Clara Oswald, was a strong companion for the Doctor, and was often the one to solve the conflicts or dilemmas the pair found themselves in. As Capaldi himself said:
“Clara had prior knowledge of the Doctor. It was conceived as a human connected to your timeline, and so had access to the cosmic nature of the Doctor. She understood a little about how he was. And as she was already with [Eleventh Doctor] Matt [Smith], she knew the Daleks and the TARDIS.”
This time around, Capaldi acknowledges that “We have a companion who knows very little about the Doctor,” so it will be an interesting change to the dynamic. Certainly from the footage the BBC released of the two, Bill seemed to be entirely in the dark about the existence of the Daleks, and had severely underestimated the threat they pose. What’s also worth noting is that it’s rumored that Capaldi will leave Doctor Who at the end of season 10, when Moffat steps down as showrunner.
Incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall has asked Capaldi to stay on, but interestingly Capaldi said he had yet to make up his mind. There’s plenty of time to reach a decision, of course, given that season 10 won’t be on our screens until 2017, but many feel like it would be the right time for Capaldi to step down, given that he will have done three seasons by then. If that happens, then the dynamic will alter yet again with the regeneration of the Doctor. For now, though, all eyes will be on Pearl Mackie when she makes her debut.
Doctor Who will return to BBC1 and BBC America with a Christmas Special in December 2016. Season 10 will air in 2017.