In a year that all but went without a new episode of Doctor Who, it’s only natural for there to be plenty of questions about what the upcoming season will bring, especially since it will include the Doctor’s new companion. Bill Potts is played by Pearl Mackie, and although the announcement of her filling the spot left by Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald was announced some time ago, details on her character and the adventures she’ll embark on with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor have been limited, to say the least. But as the season 10 creeps ever closer to its spring 2017 premiere, there is not only a new episode of the series to help tide fans over until then, but a brand new trailer as well.
The new trailer was technically attached to the abovementioned new episode – i.e., the 2016 Christmas Special, ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’ – but since there’s such a thing as time zones, those of us in North America got a glimpse at the new season before the holiday festivities. It’s a little like getting a stocking stuffer hours ahead of the big present left under the tree. Nevertheless, the new trailer is a definite treat, and a terrific (if cursory) introduction to Mackie’s Bill.
To the trailer’s credit, it gets down to answering a few basic questions about Bill right off the bat. Mackie delivers the introduction in the form of a hasty voiceover that lets everyone know she works in a cafeteria and that she knows the Doctor through his role as a professor or lecturer – or as she calls him: “Doctor What?” There are certainly plenty of details still left to fill in, but the promo nicely establishes the broad strokes of introducing a new companion and defining her relationship with the Doctor. Considering that Capaldi’s Doctor is (presumably) the first iteration Bill has met, there is a noticeable dearth of baggage between the two – something that always lingered with Coleman’s Clara following the departure of Matt Smith.
Instead, the two seem ready to go off on all sorts of journeys together, journeys that, from the look of it, Bill is most definitely ready to take part in. To a certain extent, that’s the sort of quality Doctor Who is looking for in its companions: someone who’s always game for jumping in the TARDIS and being whisked away to unknown corners of the universe and the time-space continuum, and who is willing to encounter a Dalek or two. And while there’s not much to go on regarding Bill beyond her job serving “chips” and her penchant for asking questions – like the very prudent one about a bathroom on the Doctor’s flying time machine – Mackie appears to bring a certain amount of exuberance to the role.
Beyond the welcome introduction of a new companion, though, the season 10 trailer also raises a few interesting questions of its own. For starters, is the Doctor really working as a professor or lecturer or is it just a brief one-time thing he’s doing to kickoff the season? It would be interesting to see the Doctor take on a profession in the real world, especially that of a professor, essentially making him a time-traveling Indiana Jones. While giving the Doctor responsibilities to return to Earth for might make for an interesting change of pace, the good money is that his job is really just a way to facilitate meeting Bill.
Either way, it looks as though Doctor Who season 10 will get off to an exciting start, one that will also feature an expanded role for Matt Lucas’s Nardole, perhaps to add a bit of comic relief to what looks like an action-packed new season.
Doctor Who season 10 premieres in April 2017 on BBC America.