The hunt for the Doctor’s newest girl to explore the galaxy with is over. London native Pearl Mackie has been officially signed off and announced to play the next Doctor Who companion opposite Peter Capaldi in the upcoming season, BBC reported today. Mackie replaces Jenna Coleman, who played the controversial role of Clara from 2012 through 2015.
It’s no secret that despite its ups and downs in its ratings and its worldwide fan following, Doctor Who is as much of an iconic British staple as the Queen, tea, or football clubs. So of course, the new companion had to be announced in the most British fashion possible; during the half time of the highly-watched FA Cup semi-final match between Manchester United and Everton, BBC One aired a teaser trailer, introducing Mackie, who stood beside Capaldi’s Doctor with a big, neat afro, an artsy black and white t-shirt, and, of course, a leather jacket that like all companions before her will be essential to every one of her outfits.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be joining the Doctor Who family,” said Mackie in a BBC press statement. “It’s such an extraordinary British institution, I couldn’t be prouder to call the TARDIS my home.”
Though not much is still known about Mackie’s character, the Londoner gave a little hints about this new addition to the Doctor Who legacy, Bill. Mackie describes her as “cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in.” As of now, nothing is known about Bill’s background—what part of England she’s hailing from, nor what her profession is, which are oftentimes essential aspects to the Doctor’s companions. After all, the Doctor has had anywhere from retail workers from London to medical students (also from London), and usually, those job histories come in handy.
Mackie herself is a bit of a freshman in the world of acting. After graduating from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2010, she has nabbed only two professional roles, which are Anne-Marie Frasier in Doctors two years ago and a current spot in the play ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ Capaldi, on one hand, has rolling IMDB page includes major roles in the comedy The Thick of It (2005)—for which he received several BAFTA nominations and one award for best male actor—and the short film Frank Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1993), for which Capaldi picked up an Oscar in the US.
Said Capaldi of his new acting partner, “It’s a genuine delight to welcome Pearl Mackie to Doctor Who. A fine, fine actress with wonderful zest and charm, she’s a refreshing addition to the TARDIS and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to the Doctor’s adventures.”
Mackie’s mostly untested and budding career could be exactly what Doctor Who needs. In recent years, its prominence among pop culture has waned, even before Capaldi took over.
Mackie certainly, at least, brings some much-needed diversity for the mostly-white show. According to a report by USA Today, there have only been two other major non-white characters in the Doctor Who revival—aka, since 2005—Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith, companion Rose Tyler’s (Billie Piper) boyfriend and Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones, the companion to 10th Doctor (David Tennant) from 2006 to 2010.
Mackie’s first appearance as Bill will be in the 10th season of Doctor Who, whose air date is still to be determined.