Tonight sees the return of Doctor Who for its tenth series, and with the new era comes a new companion for The Doctor. The newest comes in the form of Bill, portrayed by Pearl Mackie of London, who was shown in her new role during a trailer released last year. However, the secrecy which has historically surrounded the role of a Doctor’s companion kept her largely away from press. However, Mackie sat down with Variety prior to tonight’s premiere to discuss the unique casting process, a little about what her character means for television, and getting to work with the current Doctor.
While performing local theatre in London, Mackie was propositioned with a secret audition (titled “Mean Town,” an anagram for “Woman Ten”) and recalls nearly calling it quits right there. “There’s no way I’m going to get that. It’ll just be a nice jolly outing for me to audition.” However, after a read with current Doctor Peter Capaldi, Mackie’s chemistry lined up well and she was secretly cast.
The next two months were very hush hush prior to the official announcement from BBC One. “I avoided all my friends because I was terrible at lying. I thought the best thing to do was fall off the radar,” said Mackie.
When it was announced through the official trailer, Mackie celebrated and received plenty of positive feedback. Her favorite came from a mother on Twitter. “A mom tweeted that her little girl was mixed race and had an afro. When the trailer came on, the girl said ‘Hey mom, she looks like me.’ If (I) can help young children recognize [someone like] themselves on prime-time, then that’s amazing.”
She also gave a nod to co-star Capaldi who is going into his final run as The Doctor. “I just feel so grateful that I was able to work with him. He’s so creative to work with. He’s so generous on set and in rehearsals and generous with his own experiences, which help with some of the abstract situations we find ourselves in on Dr. Who.”
Pearl Mackie’s Bill makes her debut on Doctor Who Series 10’s premiere tonight at 9 ET on BBC America. Stay tuned with mxdwn Television for more information regarding Dr. Who Series 10 and Pearl Mackie’s big breakout role.